We’ve had a couple weeks off from sequels, but now they’re back with a vengeance with the weekend launching follow-ups to two popular and successful movies, both which should do well enough that we could see another crazy big weekend similar to when Monsters University opened against Brad Pitt’s World War Z last year.
While there may be some crossover audience between DreamWorks Animation’s latest How to Train Your Dragon 2 (20th Century Fox) and the Jonah Hill-Channing Tatum police action-comedy 22 Jump Street (Sony), it’s very likely that the movies will split the audiences by age and gender but both offering enough reasons to see them that they should easily take in over $100 million between them. It’s also Father’s Day on Sunday and in theory both movies could get a nice bump from kids taking their Dads to see a movie, although one presumes that will help “Dragon” more than “Jump Street.”
That last fact alone should give DreamWorks Animation’s second movie of 2014, How to Train Your Dragon 2 (20th Century Fox), an advantage, as it brings back the popular characters of idealistic young Viking Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his pet dragon Toothless, as they’re off on another adventure. This time they’re facing a new adversary in the dragon-stealing Drago (voiced by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou).
The original movie opened in March 2010 to what, at the time, was considered a disappointing $43 million, at least when put next to the openings for other recent DWA movies, like the previous year’s Monsters vs. Aliens and 2008′s Kung Fu Panda. Then again, they also had recently had movies that opened under $40 million like Bee Movie and Over the Hedge that showed signs of the animation giant starting to falter after having such success with the “Shrek” franchise, the third installment which opened over $120 million. Word-of-mouth was great though, as were reviews as its 98% Rating on Rotten Tomatoes was on par with many of Pixar Animation’s movies, a favorable comparison that was being made right and left, possibly a first for DWA. The movie ended up with $217 million domestically (DWA’s fifth-highest grossing movie and highest non-”Shrek”) and nearly $500 million worldwide, which made it clear that audiences wanted to see more of the characters.
The movie also did very well in DVD sales, selling $122 million in copies domestically, and even spawning an animated spin-off Cartoon Network show called “Dragons,” featuring much of the same voice cast and bridging the gap between the movies. DreamWorks Animation are already planning a third chapter in the franchise, so clearly they expect this one to do wellalthough they felt that way about “Kung Fu Panda” and that sequel didn’t make as much domestically as the original, although they’re still doing a third movie in that series, too.
One can’t ignore the fact that CG-animated movies have not been faring as well in the past year as they have over the past ten years. They’re no longer the novelty that they once were and Warner Bros.’ The LEGO Movie is one of the only real break outs of the year – in fact, it’s one of the highest domestic grossing movies so far. Then again, last summer’s two animated sequels Monsters University ($268.5 million domestic, $743 million global gross) and Despicable Me 2 ($368 and $970 million) were both huge, although their previous installments also grossed more theatrically than “Dragon.”
The movie should benefit greatly from school being out across the country (except for New York for some reason), as well as benefit from Father’s Day on Sunday, which should allow it to have a nice bump, being a movie that will play well for fathers with kids. Other than Disney’s Maleficent, there are few other choices for kids and strong reviews, probably up there with those for the first movie, should make this a first choice not only for families but also 20 to 30 something males who enjoyed the action and adventure of the first movie.
There’s little question that the sequel is going to open huge, but the question is by what standards of “huge”? Right now, opening over $60 million would be big for a DreamWorks Animation movie compared to their other recent offerings, but not quite on par with the “Shrek” sequels or The LEGO Movie for that matter. It probably will come close to $70 million opening weekend, but like the first movie, strong word-of-mouth and repeat viewings (and no other movies specifically for families until mid-July) should help it become one of the biggest movies of the summer with somewhere between $270 and 280 million.
Another sequel to a surprise hit is the screen adaptation of the 80s show 22 Jump Street (Sony), once again starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill and directed by the superstar team of Chris Miller and Phil Lord, coming off that megahit we mentioned a few times earlier, The LEGO Movie.
Like How to Train Your Dragon, the original 21 Jump Street received a mid-March release to a boffo $36 million opening and it ended up grossing $138.5 million domestically and $200 million worldwide, similar signs of strong word-of-mouth.
Since then, everything’s really coming up roses for those involved with the movie, Hill coming off his second Oscar nomination for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which grossed over $100 million, as did Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained in which Hill had a fairly small role the year before. In between, Hill was part of the ensemble cast in Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg apocalyptic comedy hit This is the End, which grossed $100 million on a fairly low budget. (Oh, did we mention that he also provides a voice in How to Train Your Dragon 2 along with his Superbad co-star Christiopher Mintz-Plasse?)
Channing Tatum followed 21 Jump Street with his semi-autobiographical Magic Mike, which opened with $39 million (against the comedy blockbuster Ted), and then he appeared in last year’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which also opened in the $40 million range. The two hits proved that Tatum had an equally strong fanbase among men and women, which should certainly help 22 Jump Street get a good mix of genders. Anyone presuming that the pairing of two A-list stars like Tatum and Hill will guarantee people would flock to theaters may want to hark back to last summer’s White House Down, pairing Tatum with Jamie Foxx. The less said about that the better though because that wasn’t a sequel, which plays a large factor in 22 Jump Street‘s success.
There have already been a number of R-rated comedies this summer, and both of the ones currently in theaters–Neighbors and Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West–have probably already played their course leaving room for 22 Jump Street to bring in a big audience. Reviews have been great so far and it’s fairly obvious that fans of the original movie are going to enjoy the sequel just as much, which will make it something they rush out to see on Thursday and Friday.
22 Jump Street is similar to “Dragon” in that it’s going to open very well, but how well is going to be determined by how many of the teen and older males interested in both movies decide to see one over the other. It’s actually a pretty good pairing of movies because there’s a good chance both guys and gals over 15 who liked the first movie will try to catch both over the weekend, and the only real question is which movie they’ll go to see first. (Interestingly, Fandango has been selling more advance tickets for “Jump Street” than “Dragon” but that could change as the weekend gets closer.)
Being R-rated, the movie’s audience might be rather limited–not that its rating stopped The Hangover or its sequel–but that’s something definitely to consider, because this type of college humor (as purveyed in the recent hit Neighbors) likely appeals more to younger moviegoers than those over, say, 30 or 40 years old. Then again, schools being out will help 22 Jump Street as well since those normally going to high school or college can see it as early as Thursday or Friday.
It might actually be a close race on Friday between the two movies, each of them likely to bring in $19 to 22 million including Thursday previews and 22 Jump Street likely to win that contest, but the weekend will bring working parents and their kids, which will give “Dragon” the boost it needs to win the weekend by a decent margin. How to Train Your Dragon is likely to bring in between $65 and 70 million, while 22 Jump Street should be good for an opening over $50 million with both benefiting from strong buzz.
This weekend last year saw the release of a huge blockbuster and a scrappy underdog as the return of DC Comics’ popular superhero Superman in Man of Steel (Warner Bros.) took on the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg ensemble comedy This is the End (Sony), which was virtually an R-rated comedy supergroup co-starring Rogen’s friends Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and James Franco. It was kind of a killing as the Zack Snyder-directed Man of Steel, starring new Superman Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, ended up with $116.6 million for the weekend in 4,207 theaters after making $12 million in special Walmart screenings on Thursday, on its way to $291 million domestic gross and $668 million worldwide. This is the End ended up with a perfectly respectable second place showing of $20 million after grossing about the same amount on Wednesday and Thursday as Man of Steel did Thursday alone. Since its production budget was reportedly $32 million, making that amount in five days was a good start as it went on to gross more than $100 million domestically, becoming another hit for Rogen-Goldberg. The Top 10 grossed $193 million, which should be around what this weekend makes with the two big movies that are opening.
This Week’s UPDATED Predictions -
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation, 20th Century Fox) – $68.5 million N/A (up .1 million)
2. 22 Jump Street (Sony) – $53.5 million N/A (same)
3. The Fault in Our Stars (20th Century Fox) – $21.5 million -55% (same)
4. Maleficent (Walt Disney Pictures) – $16.5 million -51% (same)
5. Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros) – $15 million -48% (same)
8. Neighbors (Universal) – $2.8 million -48% (.2 million)
9. Godzilla (Legendary/Warner Bros.) – $2.6 million -57% (down .2 million)
10. Chef (Open Road) – $2 million -25%
This Week’s Limited Releases:
Don’t really have a “CHOSEN ONE” this week–the best movies of the week are Kat Candler’s Hellion (IFC Films) and William Eubanks The Signal (Focus Features), both which debuted at Sundance–but last week, I spoke with Andrew Robinson of gmanReviews for his “Movies You Love” podcast about my #1 favorite movie of all time, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, roughly an hour-long conversation that you can check out right here.
Action, Thrillers and Horror:
William Eubank’s The Signal (Focus Features) is a sci-fi thriller following three young people tracing the path of a computer hacker who end up captured by a secret government agency and interrogated by a scientist, played by Laurence Fishburne. To say much more about the movie than that would be a huge disservice, but anyone into lower budget sci-fi should check it out when it opens in over 100 theaters in select cities Friday.
Interview with Will Eubank (Coming Soon!)
Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus) returns with Witching and Bitching (IFC Midnight), a genre-mixing crime-comedy that follows a bank heist gone wrong as two robbers and their hostages end up in a small town in the Basque countryside where they become the guests of a family of witches.
Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in David Michod’s follow-up to his critically-acclaimed Animal Kingdom with the crime thriller The Rover (A24). Set in a world following the “Collapse” of society, Pearce plays an enigmatic drifter named Eric whose car is stolen. When he chases after those responsible, he encounters Pattinson’s dim-witted war veteran, who was left wounded by the car thieves. It opens in New York and Los Angeles Friday and then expands wider into more cities on June 20.
Controversial author and filmmaker Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) returns with All Cheerleaders Die (Image Entertainment), co-written and co-directed with Chris Siverston (I Know Who Killed Me), following a high school outsider named Maddy who has a grudge against the captain of the football team so she joins the cheerleading squad in hopes of getting some back-up in her revenge. Instead, something goes wrong at a party killing them all but the supernatural brings them back to life with “unusual new appetites.”
Paul Hough’s sci-fi thriller The Human Race (XLRator Media) involves a brutal race between eighty strangers who are forced to either run or die.
Kat Candler’s Hellion (IFC Films) is a slice-of-life family drama as seen through the eyes of 13-year-old Jacob (newcomer Josh Wiggins), a troubled kid who allows his delinquent friends to get him into trouble with vandalism, which causes equal concern from his widower father Hollis (Aaron Paul) and the local authorities, who take Jacob’s younger brother Wes and put him into custody with their aunt (Juliette Lewis).
Actor Andrew Levitas’ directorial debut Lullaby (ARC Entertainment) stars Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy) as Jonathan, a man whose estranged father (Richard Jenkins) is dying and has opted to have himself taken off life support. Also starring Amy Adams, Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard and Jessica Brown Findlay, it opens in select cities.
Jocelyn Towne wrote, directed and stars in I Am I (Gravitas Ventures) playing Rachel, a young woman who reencounters her estranged father Gene (Kevin Tighe) at her mother’s funeral and tries to reconnect with him despite his mental condition where he still thinks he’s a young man with no recollection of ever having a daughter, thinking Rachel to be his dead wife. Yeah, that can’t end up anywhere good
Documentaries of Note:
Ivory Tower (Samuel Goldwyn Films), the new doc from Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), explores the growing tuition rate to attend college and how student debt has passed the trillion dollar mark, as he goes behind the scenes at Harvard, Arizona State, Atlanta’s Spellman College, Cooper Union and others to show the business model that’s been created for institutions to be profitable, sometimes at the stake of quality learning. It opens in New York and Los Angeles Friday.
Burning Bush, the new docu-drama by Oscar-nominated Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa) about Czech student Jan Palach who set himself on fire in January 1969 to protest the brutal Soviet military crackdown, something that helped pave the way for the fall of Communism 20 years later. It opens exclusively at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday
Foreign Films of Interest:
Martin Provost’s biodrama Violette (Adopt Films) stars Emmanuelle Devos as feminist author Violette Leduc as it explores her relationship with Simone de Beauvoir in St-Germain-des-Pres following WWII.
Jane Ole Gerster’s German tragicomedy A Coffee in Berlin (Music Box Films) (which has been playing festivals for years as “Oh Boy”) stars Tom Schilling (“Generation War”) as Niko, a twenty-something college dropout with nothing to do but roam the streets of Berlin until his girlfriend breaks up with him and his father cuts off his allowance, creating a life-changing day for the slacker. It opens in New York and L.A. Friday.
Next week, the summer starts to heat up just as the movies start to cool down, not that it’s to say that there won’t be people who want to see the sequel to the Steve Harvey ensemble comedy hit Think Like a Man As Well (Screen Gems/Sony) or Clint Eastwood’s movie based on the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys (Warner Bros.)
You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.