Box Office Preview: There Goes the Neighborhood!

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It’s the last weekend of July and we only have one more month of summer but for many moviegoers, it may as well be over with the release of The Dark Knight Rises last week. Every other movie this summer may be struggling to make a mark now that all the best bet sure things have already been released.

The ensemble comedy The Watch (20th Century Fox) features the formidable threesome of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill along with the lesser-known British comic Richard Ayoade (from British cult shows like “The Mighty Boosh”). The first three of those guys have starred in multiple movies to open over $30 million, proving them to be bonafide box office draws, and normally, one would assume the sum of the parts would be greater than any of the individuals although this one has a few things working against it.

The first big hurdle for the movie, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg of Superbad and Pineapple Express fame and directed by the Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer, was when Fox felt the need to change the title from “Neighborhood Watch” due to the negative connotations implied by the title after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Let’s face it. The Watch is an absolutely terrible title for a movie and not one that might entice summer moviegoers. The R-rating may also limit the movie slightly although Vaughn’s biggest movie to date is still the R-rated Wedding Crashers and Hill has had multiple R-rated hits – his most recent one being this year’s 21 Jump Street. Stiller is definitely more comfortable in the PG and PG-13 territory of the “Madagascar,” “Night at the Museum” and “Fockers” movies, although he has good backing from the other two.

For whatever reason, Fox’s marketing has been hiding the fact that the guys’ neighborhood is being threatened by aliens, maybe because they remember such failed summer movies as Evolution and the more recent Battleship, and the commercials have not done a good job selling the laughs these guys normally get. They also aren’t doing anything to advertise the pedigree behind the camera, which could go a long way to get older teen and 20-something moviegoers. It also feels like a movie more targeted towards guys and since they’ll still be in the head to see The Dark Knight Rises for a second or third time, we think this one will be taking a backseat to Nolan’s movie and ending up somewhere in the range of $24 to 27 million. If the movie’s any good, we could see this one grossing somewhere around $80 million or so as it will benefit from there not being another strong comedy in theaters until Jay Roach’s The Campaign in a couple of weeks.

Our 4.5/10 Review

We already know that the summer is all about sequels, but God knows who thought it would be a good idea to make another movie in the dance movie “sensation” Step Up Revolution (Summit Entertainment) at this point in time. The movies have been showing diminishing returns since the original movie which introduced moviegoers to Channing Tatum and scored $62 million domestically in 2006, followed by a 2008 sequel that did slightly less. Two years ago, the previous installment to this one, Step Up 3D, opened with $15.8 million in early August, being the last movie released by Disney which has the ability to sell these movies to the ‘tween audiences that watch their cable channel shows. By comparison, Summit seems to be floundering post-Lionsgate purchase and we haven’t really seen anything that makes us think this one has much interest. Instead, the movie will probably be lucky to make $10 million its opening weekend and it will only make that amount because it’s summer and younger female audiences are looking for movies geared towards them. We think that it will end up with between $30 and 35 million and probably be the last “Step Up” movie given a theatrical release.

One of this weekend’s big X-factors is the start of the Summer Olympics in London on Friday. The Opening Ceremonies tend to be well-viewed and there’s a chance many moviegoers, both older and younger, male and female, will stay home to watch them. The last time the Summer Olympics came around was August 9, 2008 in Beijing, the weekend The Pineapple Express (an R-rated comedy) and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (a family sequel) were released, both of them coming out Wednesday to make up for the Olympics starting that Friday, yet both of the new movies dropped on Saturday as well. We think this year’s Olympics are more likely to affect Step Up, going by the number of comedy hits that came out during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

UPDATE: Right after we went “to press,” the Weinstein Company announced that they would be releasing the French comedy The Intouchables into more theaters this weekend and while it’s still in less than 200 theaters and we don’t think that’s enough to get into the Top 10, we wanted to shine the spotlight on the movie once again for anyone who may have missed it.

Our 9/10 Review

Interview with the Directors

Interview with the Stars

This weekend last year was a decent weekend for movies as all five movies in the Top 5 brought in more than $19 million although the relatively disappointing #1 opening of Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens (DreamWorks/Universal) with just $36.4 million, a far cry from the reported $163 million production budget it cost to make the movie. By comparison, the family animated movie The Smurfs (Sony) way exceeded expectations and came in a close second with $35.6 million. The other big surprise of the weekend was the Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone ensemble rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love (Warner Bros.) scoring $19.1 million 3,020 theaters to take fifth place behind Captain America: The First Avenger and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. The Top 10 grossed roughly $168 million but since we don’t see any of the new movies opening with over $30 million and with the Summer Olympics starting, we think this weekend will fall short.

This Week’s UPDATED Predictions

UPDATE: While we’re not buying into this hogwash that people don’t want to go to movies due to the Aurora shootings last weekend, we are lowering a few of our predictions due to other factors.

1. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) – $70.5 million -56% (down 2 million)

2. The Watch (20th Century Fox) – $21.4 million N/A (down 4.4 million)

3. Step Up Revolution (Summit Entertainment) – $11.8 million N/A (Up 1.2 million and one slot)

4. Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox) – $11.2 million -44%

5. Ted (Universal Pictures) – $6 million -40% (swapped places with The Amazing Spider-Man)

6. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony) – $6 million -45%

7. Brave (Disney•Pixar) – $3.8 million -37%

8. Magic Mike (Warner Bros.) – $2.2 million -49%

9. Savages (Universal) – $1.9 million -45% (down .1 million)

10. Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features) – $1.2 million -35%

You can read about this week’s The Chosen One, Searching for Sugar Man (Sony Classics) right here.

Interview with director Malik Bendjelloul and Rodriguez

The little time I spend reading about the art world meant I knew next to nothing about the subject matter of Alison Klayman’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (IFC Films), but Ai Weiwei is certainly as fascinating an artist as Banksy and others, using his art to fight the ongoing repression and traditionalism of his homeland in China. After designing the iconic Olympic Stadium in Beijing, Ai Weiwei denounced the 2008 Olympics as propaganda, which began his ongoing conflict with his home country that led to his eventual house arrest. Klayman’s film does a good job showing the importance of Ai Weiwei’s work while following him across the globe to install various art shows, showing how down to earth he is despite his following and also delving into his past to show how that informs his current position on the situation in China. The only disappointing aspect of the movie is that it ends just when things get interesting and doesn’t get into what happened during his house arrest, which one assumes is the reason this movie is so important.

The raunchy Danish comedy Klown (Drafthouse Films) stars Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam reprising their characters from the popular TV show as the duo plan a canoeing trip, Casper hoping to use it to cheat on his wife, but Frank feels he needs to prove to his pregnant wife that he can be a responsible father so he kidnaps her nephew and brings him along much to Casper’s frustration. The raunchy comedy that’s already been dubbed Denmark’s answer to The Hangover opens in select cities and on VOD on Friday.

Interview with Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam

7.5 Mini-Review:

Paul Dano stars in Ruby Sparks (Fox Searchlight), the new movie from Oscar-nominated directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine), playing a writer who wrote a bestselling cult novel but has suffered from the pressures of writing a second. He starts having dreams about a mysterious woman named Ruby Sparks (played by the film’s writer Zoe Kazan) and once he starts writing about her, she materializes in his house. At first, she’s the perfect girlfriend but as she starts gaining her independence, Cal tries to rewrite her to fit more into the mold he expects causing endless problems. It opens on Wednesday in New York, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C. You can find out at which theaters and where else it will play on the Official Site.

Review

In the second adaptation of a Tracy Letts play by William (The Exorcist) Friedkin following 2006’s Bug, Matthew McConaughey plays Killer Joe (LD Entertainment), a Dallas detective who freelance as a hitman. When he’s hired by a down-on-his-luck loser named Chris (Emile Hirsch) to kill his junkie mother, Joe only agrees if Chris puts up his virginal teen sister Dottie (Juno Temple) as a retainer that leads to further conflict when the plan goes wrong. It opens in select cities on Friday.

4.5/10 Mini-Review

Anne Edmond’s NUIT #1 (Adopt Films) involves a one night stand between two people who meet at a rave, both of them who lead very different lives than their partying personalities, which they learn about after their first sexual encounter.

7.5/10 Mini-Review

And then the movies I haven’t seen yet…

Oscar-winning Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) returns with his latest historic war epic Sacrifice (Samuel Goldwyn Films) about a young infant groomed by a doctor to get revenge on the general who wiped out his entire family.

The follow-up to Fredrik Gertten’a Bananas! is Big Boys Gone Bananas! (WG Film), which follows the story of how that movie was removed from competition in the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival due to pressure from the DOLE corporation threatening legal action if the film is shown and how Gertten deals with this corporate bullying. It opens in New York Friday and in L.A. on August 3.

Korean filmmaker Seung-Jun Yi’s doc Planet of Snail (Cinema Guild) explores the relationship of an unconventional couple, a blind and deaf poet and his wife, a dwarf suffering from spinal issues, and how every moment becomes important to them as they work together to perform simple daily functions. It opens exclusively at the Film Forum in New York City on Wednesday.

Padraig Reynolds’s Rites of Spring (IFC Midnight) stars AJ Bowen (The Signal) as one of a group of kidnappers who get second thoughts after taking the daughter of a rich socialize and hiding out in an abandoned school that seems to be inhabited by a creature that begins to hunt them down.

Next week, the month of August kicks off with Len Wiseman’s sci-fi action remake Total Recall (Sony), starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale and Bryan Cranston, and the third installment of the popular kids’ franchise Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (20th Century Fox).

You can read stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage on the new Weekend Warrior Blog and to keep up with the latest articles and posts, you can follow us on Twitter.

Copyright 2012 Edward Douglas