The month of August kicks off with an air of relief that things may start picking up at the box office after a weekend of moviegoers having other things keeping them busy, this week offers two movies hoping to kickstart the box office, one a proven commodity, the other a bit more of a risk.
We’ll start with the latter.
Underworld series and Live Free or Die Hard director Len Wiseman’s remake of the sci-fi action thriller Total Recall (Sony) is Colin Farrell’s first big studio action movie since Michael Mann’s Miami Vice way back in the summer of 2006, and it’s likely to be the only other movie in theaters besides Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises that holds any interest for male moviegoers. The original Total Recall directed by Paul Verhoeven, based on the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s second movie to gross $100 million and while it wouldn’t lead to a franchise like the “Terminator” or “Predator” movies, it’s still remembered fondly by sci-fi fans over a certain age.
Science fiction has been a mixed bag at the box office with hits like District 9 and Prometheus being countered with disappointments like the recent John Carter, and that’s doubly true with movies based on Philip K. Dick stories, which tend to be too heady for mainstream moviegoers. The most recent Dick adaptation was The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, which grossed $62 million domestically (and double that amount worldwide). Ten years ago, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise teamed for 2002’s Minority Report (also starring Farrell!) but that star power wasn’t enough to help that open over $35 million, although it did end up grossing $135 million. Either way, this seems like a good vehicle for Farrell to make his return to action. Last year, Farrell starred in the R-rated comedy hit Horrible Bosses in a very different role, then played the villain in DreamWorks’ failed Fright Night remake, but he previously starred in Neal Moritz’s movie version of S.W.A.T., another August release, which opened with $37 million and grossed $117 million domestically. Farrell is joined by Jessica Biel who hasn’t appeared in a summer action movie since 2010’s The A-Team and then scattered movies beforehand, but the movie’s ringer is Wiseman’s wife Kate Beckinsale, who recently returned to the Underworld franchise which grossed $162 million worldwide.
Obviously this is a movie with a lot of things going for it including a great cast and having the namebrand recognition of being a remake, but it also has a clever viral marketing campaign Sony has used to raise awareness of the movie, using the concept of Rekall in billboards and a subway poster campaign. Sony really lucked out this weekend when Universal decided to move The Bourne Legacy back a week, because that movie would have likely grabbed a lot of business that would have gone to their movie, but it still has to contend against the third week of The Dark Knight Rises and the repercussions of moviegoers possibly not being up for a violent movie after the shootings in Aurora. Any other time, this action movie would open to $40 million or more giving The Dark Knight Rises a run for the top spot although its likely to be heavily frontloaded to Friday and while it may still end up taking the top spot, it’s likely to be with less money, probably in the low $30 millions on its way to roughly $85 million or slightly more.
A successful family franchise gets a third installment with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (20th Century Fox), based on the popular kids’ books by Jeff Kinney, and being the first movie in the series to open in the summer, one would assume should help the threequel do well since school’s out. The original movie opened in March 2010 with $22.1 million on its way to $64 million and then the sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules opened a year later with $23.7 million, but then only grossed $52.7 million. While this one could do $20 million or more like the last two, the general apathy among moviegoers may keep this under that mark, although it shouldn’t end up too far behind the others for a solid third place.
This weekend last year saw the release of the prequel to a popular sci-fi franchise in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox), starring James Franco, Freida Pinto and Andy Serkis as Caesar. It opened big at #1 with $54.8 million in 3,648 theaters, an average of $15,000 per site, giving the month of August a great start. It went on to gross $176 million domestically and $482 million worldwide, making for a big hit for 20th Century Fox. The same couldn’t be said for the R-rated body-changing comedy The Change-Up (Universal), teaming Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, which opened with a disappointing $13.5 million for fifth place. Sony’s The Smurfs pulled ahead of Cowboys & Aliens in their second weekend together to take second place with $20 million. The Top 10 grossed $154.6 million, but since we still seem to be in a bit of a box office drought, we don’t think this weekend will match that amount.
This Week’s Updated Predictions –
1. Total Recall (Sony) – $31.4 million N/A
2. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) – $30 million -52%
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (20th Century Fox) – $19.7 million N/A ( up .9 million)
4. Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox) – $8.2 million -38%
5. The Watch (20th Century Fox) – $6.6 million -48%
6. Step Up Revolution (Summit Entertainment) – $5.5 million -53%
7. Ted (Universal Pictures) – $5.3 million -28%
8. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony) – $3.9 million -39% (down .1 million)
9. Brave (DisneyPixar) – $2.8 million -35%
10. Magic Mike (Warner Bros.) – $1.4 million -45%
This week’s “Chosen One” is the annual DocuWeeks film festival, celebrating the art of documentary filmmaking with single week runs in New York and L.A. over the next few weeks. You can read more about it here.
Two docs not playing in DocuWeeks but worth checking out are Mark Hall’s Sushi: The Global Catch (Alive Mind Cinema), which looks at different aspects of the sushi trade from different angles and how the growth of the sushi business has lessened the giant blue tuna population of the world’s oceans to a dangerous level where people are looking for new sustainable ways of fulfilling the demand. It opens at the Quad Cinemas in New York on Friday.
Anthony Baxter’s doc You’ve Been Trumped (International Film Circuit) is about a small coastal Scottish town facing the mighty Donald Trump and his plans on building a golf course and a resort, destroying their dune-laden beaches.
Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn star in Broken Lizard member Jay Chandrasekhar’s comedy The Babymakers (Millennium Entertainment) as a married couple who want to have a baby, but when he discovers his sperm is no longer potent, he hatches a scheme to rob a sperm bank with his friends to get some of the sperm he deposited years earlier. It opens in select cities and on VOD Friday.
Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)
Interview with Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan
Brazilian filmmaker Fernando (City of God) Meirelles’ global anthology 360 (Magnolia), written by Peter Morgan (The Queen) tells a number of concurrent stories set in different parts of the world with an all-star cast that includes Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Ben Foster, Jamel Debbouze and Moritz Bleibtreu. It opens in New York and Los Angeles at their respective Landmark Theaters on Friday.
Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)
Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg star in the comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever (Sony Pictures Classics), directed by Lee Toland Krieger (The Vicious Kind), playing a married couple who have separated but still remain best friends until they realize their relationship isn’t healthy and they need to spend time apart. Co-written by Jones with actor Will McCormack, it opens in select cities Friday.
Video Interviews with Rashida Jones, Director Lee Krieger and co-writer Will McCormack