May came to a close with two smaller releases and June is likely to open with the same as everyone is basically waiting for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel to come out next week, so we’re experiencing somewhat of a filler weekend where any new movie would be lucky to break out. It’s somewhat surprising even to think that because for the second weekend in a row, we have a movie that reunites two big stars that previously had a hit together–actually last weekend, there were two reunions if you think about it–but there’s also a much smaller lower profile high concept horror movie that seems to be finding a younger audience with its marketing that might surprise some people this weekend.
The Internship (20th Century Fox)
Starring Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Max Minghella, Rose Byrne, John Goodman, Dylan O’Brien, JoAnna Garcia, Eric Andre, Josh Brener, Tiya Sircar, Tobit Raphael, Will Ferrell
Directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Date Night, Cheaper by the Dozen, Real Steel and more); Written by Vince Vaughn (Couples Retreat)
Tagline: “Hiring them was a brilliant mistake.” (Making this movie? Just a mistake.)
Back in the late summer of 2005, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson came together for a little R-rated movie called Wedding Crashers, which opened with very little expectations but managed to find a big audience with its premise of the two comic actors crashing weddings. It opened huge with $34 million and had big-time legs, grossing $209 million over its theatrical run – and that’s based on a $40 million budget. At the time, it was the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever (that was before the first two “Hangover” movies), but it also broke open the doors for more filmmakers to do R-rated comedies including one Judd Apatow, whose hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin followed just one month later.
One would think New Line would have tried to come up with some kind of idea for a sequel, but that never happened, and apparently, many producers and studios tried to reunite the duo with one idea or another. It took Vaughn to write something himself, following his co-writing of the hit comedy Couples Retreat with Jon Favreau, to convince Owen Wilson to work with him again. This time, they’re playing out of work executives who enter a competition to become an intern at Google, and no, I have no idea why anyone would think this would be a good idea–for a job, let alone a movie–but apparently, it was a good enough idea to bring them back together after turning down so many other things.
One possible issue facing both Vaughn and Wilson at this point in their careers is that neither of them have really made much of an effort to change their schtick since Wedding Crashers and as we saw with Will Ferrell and even Ben Stiller, audiences get sick of seeing the same thing over and over, especially when it comes to their comedy.
Vaughn’s star has definitely been on the descent in recent years after having numerous big hits like Wedding Crashers and The Break-Up. The Dilemma, which teamed him with the once-hot Kevin James, failed to bring in the audiences expected, and then last year’s star-studded comedy The Watch (produced by Shawn Levy), co-starring Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill, completely tanked. Vaughn could definitely use a hit to show that audiences aren’t tied of his routine.
In some ways, other than the “Fockers” and “Night at the Museum” movies and voicing Lightning McQueen in Cars 2, it’s been even longer since Owen Wilson has had a hit, although he did star in Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s highest-grossing movie to date. He’s actually had a number of even bigger bombs than Vaughn including 2011’s The Big Year, the Farrellys’ Hall Pass and the romantic comedy How Do You Know the year before.
The Internship is directed by Shawn Levy, who has done a lot of family comedies like the “Night at the Museum” movies before branching out with more adult fare like Date Night, but even with a strong comedy director and two stars that doesn’t necessarily mean The Internship is guaranteed to be a hit. As we saw last week with Will Smith, star power doesn’t necessarily mean much when it comes to the summer, and this concept doesn’t seem very funny.
It’s probably been mentioned more than a few times, but the fact the movie is set at Google, where they’re competing for this internship, makes the movie come across a lot like a commercial for Google, which may get in the way of the humor to the point of people not bothering to go see it. There’s enough advertising in the world and people get annoyed by the number of ads in front of movies, so to have a whole movie that’s basically a giant ad can’t bode well.
Maybe not as big a problem, but still out there, is that this is a PG-13 comedy, which means this will be significantly tamer than the comedies America seems to be enjoying right now, though it may also mean it can get lower-aged teens into theaters which is good since most of them will be out of school at this point. Then again, they could just buy tickets to this and sneak into the R-rated The Purge which seems to have way more buzz right now. (see below)
Fox maybe wisely gave the movie sneak peeks on Saturday night in hopes of drumming up some word-of-mouth business from the weekend, but they took their sweet time making that decision so they weren’t very well attended.
We’re calling it right now that The Internship is going to bomb, maybe not as bad as last year’s The Watch, but it probably will do around the same amount as Vaughn’s previous movie The Dilemma in the $17 to 20 million range which means it’s going to be butting up the third week of Fast & Furious 6 to take second place and it won’t have much legs going up against stronger comedies in the weeks to come.
Weekend Est.: $15 to 18 million opening; Est. Total Gross: $45 million
The Purge (Universal Pictures)
Starring Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder
Written and Directed by James DeMonaco
Tagline: “One night a year, crime is legal. Survive the night.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about this new horror movie produced by Jason Blum, one of the masterminds behind the “Paranormal Activity” franchise who has also had hits with Insidious and Sinister, who is hoping to follow suit with this high concept and presumably lower-budget thriller. The Purge takes place in an America where all crime including murder is legalized for 12 hours a year so that the population can get it out of their system, thereby reducing crime the rest of the year. The basic story involves one family in a large gated community who has to fight off masked intruders, so it basically looks a lot like The Strangers on a larger scale.
It stars Ethan Hawke, who was so great in Sinister that horror fans should be thrilled to see him in another genre movie so soon, and his wife is played by Lena Headey from 300 and “Game of Thrones.” It’s hard to determine if either actor will have much of an effect on box office since neither is being featured in the ads, but at least this is a horror movie with two strong actors going for it if nothing else.
Not every movie Blum has been involved with has produced a hit with last year’s Dark Skies being one of the notable bombs, but he has a good partner in Universal who actually released The Strangers (after delaying it for years) into a similar number of theaters and had a huge hit, as it opened almost the exact same weekend in 2008 with $21 million before grossing $52.5 million. They must know they have a strong movie because they’ve been screening the movie in many cities to generate excitement and get word-of-mouth going. It seems to have been working as The Purge has been doing well on social networks like Twitter, possibly because it looks like such an interesting topic.
Because of this, the movie is already tracking significantly better than The Internship although that doesn’t mean very much going by last week’s showing for After Earth which was tracking better than Now You See Me. Still, there’s a lot to be said for original high concept premises opening in a summer where there’s a lot of sequels and reboots, since audiences are always looking for something different and this might offer just that. We’re expecting a surprise weekend win for this low budget horror movie.
Despite the great concept and a lot of online interest in the movie, Universal is only releasing the movie in roughly 2,400 theaters which is significantly less than The Internship but the interest in the movie is coming from the younger 17 to 22 year old crowd who drive box office and most of them are going to be out of school and ready to see something scary on Thursday at midnight on Friday which will help push this over the lame-looking comedy. It could also make the movie significantly frontloaded.
Weekend Est.: $18 to 20 million; Est. Total Gross: $48 million
This weekend last year saw the release of two big movies that both did quite decently but by weekend’s end, the third adventure of the New York zoo animals voiced by Ben Stiller and Chris Rock in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) ended up winning the weekend with $60.2 million, while Ridley Scott’s return to outer space with Prometheus (20th Century Fox), starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, settled for second place with a solid $51 million. The Top 10 brought in $171 million, but with a much softer selection this weekend and neither movie looking to come close to $50 million, this is going to be another down weekend from last year.
This Week’s Updated Predictions –
1. The Purge (Universal Pictures) – $21.2 million N/A (up 2.6 million)
2. The Internship (20th Century Fox) – $17.8 million N/A (up 1 million)
3. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) – $16.5 million -52%
4. Now You See Me (Summit) – $15.5 million -45%
5. After Earth (Sony) – $14.1 million -48%
6. Epic (20th Century Fox) – $10 million -40%
7. Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount) – $9 million -46%
8. The Hangover Part III (Warner Bros.) – $8.2 million -50%
9. Iron Man 3 (Marvel Studios/Disney) – $4.4 million down -48%
10. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) – $3.5 million
Fan favorite Joss Whedon brought together a group of friends at his California mansion to film a black and white version of William Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing (Roadside Attractions) with actors from all his previous works including Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg and Fran Kranz. I saw this at the Toronto Film Festival and I wasn’t even remotely impressed, because it seems to have been made specifically for Whedon’s fans. It’s not a particularly clever take on the Bard’s play–basically just has his ensemble performing in modern day clothes–and since I’m not really that big a Shakespeare fan to begin with, I was pretty bored. But it opens in New York and Los Angeles this Friday if you are a fan of Whedon’s work and want to see his players doing Shakespeare.
From Blue Tongue Films, the Aussie production house behind Animal Kingdom and The Square, comes Kieran Darcy-Smith’s dramatic thriller wish you were here. (eOne Films) starring Joel Edgerton and co-writer Felicity Price as husband and pregnant wife who join her younger sister (played by Teresa Palmer) and boyfriend Jeremy on a vacation to Cambodia, but when something bad happens, they return to Sydney and have to deal with the repercussions.
Filmmaker Brian De Palma is back with Passion (eOne Films), a remake of Alain Corneau’s French film Love Crime, this one starring Rachel McAdams as Christine, the boss at an advertising agency, whose assistant Isabelle, played by Noomi Rapace, is constantly being tested by her boss, a game of manipulation that turns deadly as the stakes increase. I wasn’t crazy about the original movie and I thought this one was a stylishly-filmed, beautifully-scored absolute piece of crap–close to one of the worst movies of the year so far.
Douglas Tirola’s doc Hey Bartender (4th Row Films) looks at the superstar bartenders and “mixologists” who have helped turned the craft of making drinks into an artform, and it’s definitely interesting to anyone who often orders fancy drinks in bars, not so much to the likes of me who usually will just order a beer. Even less to someone who hasn’t been able to go to a bar for a beer in nearly eight weeks. Not the best doc of the year but also not the worst. Definitely not one to take your alcoholic relative to see though.
And then there are the movies I haven’t seen
Mere days before Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s higher profile This is the End, Paul Middleditch’s Rapture-Palooza (Lionsgate) is an Apocalyptic comedy starring Anna Kendrick as a Seattle woman trying to survive in all the mayhem with her boyfriend (played by John Francis Daley from “Freaks and Geeks”), while facing the arrival of “The Beast,” played by Craig Robinson, who also happens to be one of the stars of the aforementioned Rogen/Goldberg joint.
Anyone over 30 probably will remember author Judy Blume, the Stephenie Meyer of her time who made her career telling coming of age stories about young girls that sold 82 million copies worldwide. Tiger Eyes (Freestyle Releasing) is the very first film adaptation of one of her novels, this one about 17-year-old Davey who gets relocated to Los Alamos, New Mexico along with her widowed mother after the violent death of her father. There, she meets a young Native American named Wolf and they explore the canyons and themselves and boy, did I really like reading these books as a teenager? Yikes.
Eric (One Missed Call) Valette’s The Prey stars Albert Dupontel as Franck Adrien, a bank robber sentenced to six months in jail in which he shares a cell with a serial killer who proceeds to go after Adrien’s family once he gets out, forcing him to have to get out of jail and go after him while evading the police.
Controversial talk show host Morton Downey Jr is the subject of Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (Magnolia Pictures), a documentary directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger that features interviews with his peers Herman Cain, Pat Buchanan, Chris Elliott, Gloria Allred, Sally Jessy Raphael, Alan Dershowitz, Curtis Sliwa, and Richard Bey as well as behind-the-scenes footage that’s never been seen before.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious) writes and directs Violet & Daisy (Cinedigm), starring Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan as the title characters, two teenage assassins who share a violent journey through New York City taking on various opponents, including one played by James Gandolfini from “The Sopranos.”
Lastly, Aram Rappaport’s comedy Syrup (Magnet Releasing), based on the book by Maxx Barry that follows a young man named Scat (Shiloh Fernandez) just out of marketing school who comes up with an idea for a new product that should be worth millions although he finds that getting credit for the idea is tough in the duplicitous world of advertising. Sounds a lot like Passion actually.
Next week, the highly anticipated Zack Snyder Superman movie Man of Steel (Warner Bros.) finally hits theaters, but two days earlier, Seth Rogen will bring together all his friends for one last end of the world party in This is the End (Sony).
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Copyright 2013 Edward Douglas