July motors along with three very different movies trying to dethrone last week’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Honestly, all three new movies have the potential to open with over $30 million as they will divide audiences fairly evenly by age and gender, the only question being whether having such a divisive effect on moviegoers might end up hurting all three movies, keeping them from surpassing last week’s #1.
The movie with the most potential to take over is one of the weekend’s two sequels in a summer that’s proving chock-full of them, The Purge: Anarchy (Universal Pictures), director James DeMonaco’s follow-up to the low-budget Blumhouse Pictures hit, this one starring Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford (“Friday Night Lights”) and Michael K. Williams (“Boardwalk Empire”).
2013’s The Purge was one of last summer’s surprise hits, released by Universal Pictures into less than 2,600 theaters, but grossing $34 million after an impressive opening day of $16.8 million. Considering the movie’s $3 million production budget, it was instantly profitable, although it was also insanely frontloaded, making just two times its opening day over the weekend and less than two times its opening weekend in its short theatrical life. It was out of theaters in less than two months after dropping 76% in its second weekend, although maybe that wasn’t a shocker considering the movie’s “C” CinemaScore. Critics not being crazy about the movie, as proven by its 38% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, which wasn’t as surprising as its low 5.5 rating on IMDb.
Of course, when a movie makes as much profit as The Purge did, it only makes sense to make a sequel and DeMonaco must have already had some ideas how to expand on the premise of a world in which society has 12 hours a year to commit whatever crime they can, which brings us back to The Purge: Anarchy. The sequel is indeed bigger and quite a bit better for it, because it gets more into showing the rest of the world rather than just being a home invasion movie like the first one. While starpower won’t matter much for a movie like this–the original “Purge” featured indie darling and Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke–“Anarchy” has an impressive line-up of television and movie actors, particularly Frank Grillo and Michael K. Williams, who already have fans from shows like “The Shield” and “The Wire.” (Oddly, Williams is barely being shown in trailers/commercials although that may be to avoid spoilers about his character.)
Universal’s marketing for the sequel has been spot-on including some of the same viral tactics and intriguing visuals as the last movie, but really delivering with a live-action touring “experience” that can help build excitement. While the studio hasn’t screened the movie to many critics in advance, they are screening it (which is more than we can say for some studios that release horror movies) and reviews will probably be in the same mixed-at-best range as the debut, because there aren’t many horror-friendly critics out there.
CinemaScore aside, the original movie has a lot of fans and this is likely to be the top choice for guys (and a good amount of girls) between the ages of 15 and 25 and should do extremely well among African-American and Latino moviegoers, even with “Apes” still playing well. With that in mind, expect this to end up with a similar $32 to 35 million opening weekend as its predecessor as well as being just as frontloaded, with anyone that passes on the sequel after not digging the original movie being replaced by those who subsequently saw and liked the movie on Blu-ray/DVD. With a number of new movies targeting the same general audience in the coming weeks, it would be surprising to see the sequel scoring more than $65 or 70 million total, though.
The second sequel of the weekend is Planes: Fire & Rescue (Walt Disney), which follows the relative success of what was intended as a home video spin-off of Pixar Animation’s “Cars” franchise, which ended up receiving a theatrical release last August. With an odd late summer release date, Disney’s Planes opened with a fairly minimal $22.2 million, but held up well through the rest of the summer to earn $90 million domestic and $220 million worldwide. Before it even opened, its sequel had already been announced and presumably in development already (considering how long it takes to make CG animated films), but Disney wisely picked a weekend earlier in the summer this time around.
Granted, not too many people knew about the movie’s questionable roots and if nothing else, Planes suffered from a similar fate as DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo in trying to open after the one-two punch of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2. “Fire & Rescue” has a lot more opportunities to break out, first of all because it’s a sequel to a popular kids movie, itself a spin-off of a popular series of movies. And let’s face it, if you give kids talking animals and/or vehicles, you’ve basically created catnip for kids (which is not to be confused with “kidnap”) and Disney’s sequel has lucked out in the fact that this has been a pretty weak summer for kids’ movies as seen by the difficulty How to Train Your Dragon 2 has had trying to make $200 million domestically. That’s still in the Top 10 as is Relativity’s Earth to Echo, which has barely eeked out $25 million, but there seems to be room for something new especially from the tried-and-true family entertainment leaders, Disney.
While Dane Cook is back in the main role as Dusty Crophopper, the cropdusting plane turned racer, the voice cast won’t make too much of a difference, although he’s joined by the likes of Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Emmy-winner Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), as well as returning voices by Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Brad Garrett, Cedric the Entertainer and even Pixar regular John Ratzenberger (Just to confirm that this indeed set in the world of Pixar’s Cars). Even “Seinfeld” favorite Patrick Warburton aka the voice of “The Tick” steps up from his normally bad choice in animated movies to say a few lines in this one.
Without having seen the original Planes, I have a feeling that critics will like this one better, maybe because it looks like they put more thought into the story and sense of humor, so expect it to fare much better than the earlier movie’s 26% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes. Better reviews won’t mean kids over a certain age or the teen or older set and non-parents will have any interest because to be perfectly honest, this is still not Pixar, as hard as it tries.
Kids on the other hand won’t need convincing to see this, and decent reviews should certainly make it easier for parents to say “yes” to their kids. Opening earlier in the summer should definitely help the sequel perform better than the original its opening weekend, probably very close to $30 million or slightly over, really depending on the theater count. This should also be good for decent legs over the rest of the summer to put it into the $100 million club by summer’s end if not sooner.
Possibly benefiting from NOT being a sequel in a market swarming with them, the R-rated comedy Sex Tape (Sony), reuniting Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and director Jake Kasdan from Sony’s 2011 comedy hit Bad Teacher, has its own percentage of moviegoers it’s targetting, one that won’t necessarily take away from the other two movies.
This is the fifth R-rated comedy of the summer, coming very shortly after 22 Jump Street and Tammy, both of which are still playing strong, and though the latter is certainly strong among women, it’s not been received that well as a comedy.
Sex Tape has a really strong comedy concept, one that plays upon an idea that’s been in the public eye for decades thanks to celebrity sex tape leaks, but it’s also something long-time married couples may toy with, often to disastrous results. The worst that can come of any sex tape happens in this one as a couple try to prevent the disaster of their love-making role playing session ending up being seen by family and friends.
Cameron Diaz is certainly the hotter star of the main duo with solid comedy hits from The Mask with Jim Carrey to There’s Something About Mary with Ben Stiller, What Happens in Vegas with Ashton Kutcher, Bad Teacher of course, and let’s not forget four blockbuster “Shrek” movies. She’s also coming off the pre-summer comedy hit The Other Woman which did very well among women, faring even better than summer hopefuls like Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West with $83.7 million domestic and $108 million overseas. Segel hasn’t fared as well with early comedy hits like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man leading to a few duds. Few people would credit the success of Disney’s The Muppets to Segel’s presence even if this year’s sequel without him failed miserably. (The movie also features funny supporting turns by Robs Corrdry and Lowe and Ellie Kemper from “The Office”).
Sex Tape seems like it will play older than the usual summer comedy, mainly due to the age of the stars and the fact they’re playing parents – which didn’t hurt Seth Rogen’s Neighbors whatsoever. It also will likely draw in more women than men, despite both Diaz and Segel having found fairly balanced audiences with previous roles. Their starpower will certainly come into play following the success of Diaz’s The Other Woman and Segel riding the success of the final season of CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother.”
Although we don’t expect reviews to be that great for Sex Tape, the movie’s premise is a fairly easy sell for Sony especially with the starpower from the duo’s previous hit Bad Teacher which should help the movie open in the mid to high $20 millions, closer to The Other Woman than Bad Teacher. How it fares in the long run will depend on whether audiences like it more than critics (like most of Diaz’s movies), but it probably will fall just short of $100 million regardless.
Review (Coming Soon!)
This weekend last year only saw one movie breaking out and becoming a bigger than expected hit and three movies bombing pretty badly. Although some thought Despicable Me 2 might pull a three-peat, it was James (Insidious) Wan’s from-real-life horror movie The Conjuring (New Line/WB) which stunned with a $41.9 million opening, the second-biggest opening for a supernatural thriller after Paranormal Activity 3. It went on to gross $137.4 million over the summer. Settling for third place behind Despicable Me 2 was DreamWorks Animation’s biggest bomb to date, Turbo, which grossed $21.3 million over the weekend after making less than $10 million on Wednesday and Thursday. The Bruce Willis action sequel RED 2 (Summit) opened lower than the original with $18 million for fifth place while the long-delayed Jeff Bridges-Ryan Reynolds dud R.I.P.D. (Universal), opened in seventh place with just $12.7 million or $4450 per theater. The Top 10 grossed $174 million and sadly it doesn’t look like this week’s offerings will be able to pull the box office out of its current slump.
This Week’s Updated Predictions –
UPDATE: Decided to drop a few of the predictions although with an expansion into over 1, 300 theaters John Carney’s Begin Again should be able to retain a spot in the Top 10.
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox) – $35.0 million – 52% (down .2 million)
2. The Purge: Anarchy (Universal Pictures) – $32.8 million N/A (down .2 million)
3. Planes: Fire & Rescue (Walt Disney Pictures) – $26.5 million N/A (down 3.2 million)
4. Sex Tape (Sony) – $23.6 million N/A (down .9 million)
5. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount) – $7.3 million -55% (same)
6. Tammy (Warner Bros.) – $7 million -45% (same)
7. 22 Jump Street (Sony) – $4 million -40% (same)
8. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation, 20th Century Fox) – $3.4 million -44% (down .4 million)
9. Begin Again (The Weinstein Company) – $3.2 million +14%
10 Earth to Echo (Relativity) – $3.1 million -43% (down .2 million)
This Week’s Limited Releases:
There are some decent offerings but nothing we’d consider the “CHOSEN ONE” for the week
“Scrubs” star and Garden State director Zach Braff returns with Wish I Was Here (Focus Features), in which he plays Aidan Blum, a struggling actor with a working wife (Kate Hudson) and a dying father (Mandy Patinkin), who decides to take over the schooling of his kid when they can no longer afford their private school. With appearances by Donald Faison and Jim Parsons, it opens in select cities on Friday.
Action, Thrillers and Horror:
Mike Cahill, the award-winning filmmaker behind 2011’s Another Earth returns with I Origins (Fox Searchlight) starring Michael Pitt as Dr. Ian Shaw, a scientist specializing in the genetics of the eye, trying to create sight in the blind along with his assistants Karen (Cahill collaborator Brit Marling) and Kenny (Steven Yeun, “The Walking Dead”), while being distracted by the enigmatic beauty Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides). Years after a tragic event, Shaw begins to look into the greater possibilities of investigating the mysteries of the eye after a shocking discovery. It opens in select cities on Friday.
Video Interview with Filmmaker Mike Cahill (Later this week)
Review (Later this week)
Foreign Films of Interest:
Michel Gondry’s adaptation of Boris Vian’s novel Mood Indigo (Drafthouse Films) stars French mega-stars Romaine Duris and Audrey Tautou, playing millionaire inventor Colin and Chloe, the women he falls in love with who is stricken with a mysterious illness. X-Men: Days of Future Past‘s Omar Sy plays Colin’s chef and butler. Having won a Cesar award for its unique production design, it opens in select cities on Friday.
Video Interview with Gondry (Check back Friday)
Documentaries of Note:
Jeremy Snead’s Video Games: The Movie (Variance Films) is a fairly straight-ahead documentary looking at the history and evolution of the home video console from the early days of Pong to the modern 3-dimensional photo-realistic games found on modern game consoles. Narrated by Sean Astin and executed by Zach Braff, it will premiere on VOD on Tuesday and then opens in select cities across the country on Friday (including a few limited showings). You can find out where it’s playing on the official site.
Michael Rossato-Bennett’s doc Alive Inside (BOND/360) could be the non-fiction version of John Carney’s Begin Again as it explores the healing power of music as it follows social worker Dan Cohen of Music & Memory as he uses music to fight against memory loss and talks with scientists, doctors and Bobby McFerrin. Having won the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it opens at New York’s Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Friday and expands to other cities in the weeks to come–you can find out where/when here
Russell Friedenberg’s crime drama Among Ravens (Gravitas Ventures) features a mixed bag of a cast including Amy Smart, Josh Leonard and singer Natalie Imbruglia as it shows a 4th of July weekend as seen through the eyes of the ten-year-old daughter (Johnny Sequoia) as various oddball guests converge on their home.
Daniel Lusko’s religious suspense thriller Persecuted (One Media LLC) stars the likes of Fred Thomson and Bruce Davison as it follows the story of acclaimed evangelist John Luther who is targeted by a U.S. Senator to be kidnapped and framed for the murder of a teenage girl when he stands up against religious reform in the United States. As a fugitive, Luther tries to solve the plot against him while revealing the “persecution” of Christian figures. It opens in select cities.
Next week, it’s two action movies battling for the top spot with Dwayne Johnson playing the mythological Hercules (Paramount) and Scarlett Johansson playing the futuristic Lucy (Universal). Also, Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton square off in Rob Reiner’s meet cute rom com And So It Goes (Clarius), and there’s also Gabriel Iglesias’ comedy concert movie The Fluffy Movie (Open Road Films)
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.
Copyright 2014 Edward Douglas