Box Office Preview: New Legacies and Old School Campaigns

We’re really getting into the last few weeks of summer and while we’ve already seen a number of bad weekends that shows that the box office has hit a bit of a slump, thanks to the Summer Olympics, this weekend offers one last chance with one big-time sequel and enough starpower that we can hope people will want to get out of the house and go to the movies.

As in past summers, we’ve gotten a lot of sequels and reboots this year, though The Bourne Legacy (Universal) isn’t really either. While it takes place in the world established in Matt Damon’s three blockbuster action-thrillers, this one stars an agent played by Jeremy Renner, yet everything that happened in those other movies still happened, unlike The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s probably no surprise that Universal would want to keep the franchise alive that’s brought them nearly $1 billion over three movies.

The Bourne Identity opened in the summer of 2002 to just $27 million but word-of-mouth got around and it ended up with serious legs grossing $121 million by the time it left theaters. The sequel opened two years later to twice the opening of the original and grossed $176 million. Three years after that, the finale to the original trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum, blew both those out of the water, opening with $69.3 million and grossing $227.5 million and over $400 million globally.

Since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass decided not to come back, Universal were left in a position where they had to continue the franchise, so they went back to Tony Gilroy, who had been involved with the writing of all three previous movies and not only did he come up with a new side story, but he also stepped on board to direct. Gilroy’s previous films as director were the Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney, and Duplicity, neither very big movies though generally well-respected and reviewed.

More importantly, they got Jeremy Renner in the role of Aaron Cross, and the timing couldn’t be better. Having been nominated for two Oscars in The Hurt Locker and Ben Affleck’s The Town, Renner has really broken it big since then. He was great in last year’s hit Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and then his character Hawkeye was a major part of this year’s global blockbuster Marvel’s The Avengers, which has become the third-highest grossing movie of all time. Joining Renner is Rachel Weisz, who could be an A-list actress in her own right after starring in the first two “Mummy” movies, except that she’s decided to do smaller and more personal indie movies in recent years.

Universal made one of the second smartest moves of the summer by pushing the movie back a week, giving The Dark Knight Rises more space, which might make all the difference in the world on whether it explodes or has a similar fate as last week’s Total Recall. Either way, there’s no denying the popularity of the “Bourne” franchise and there will be a lot of guys and women over 20 who will be curious to see what they do with this reinvention and reviews should generally be positive enough for them to give it a look. We think this one should be good for $40 million or more opening weekend and should be able to gross close to $150 million, not quite as much as the last two installments but enough to warrant more movies.


The film’s biggest competition is the political comedy The Campaign (Warner Bros.), starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis and directed by Jay Roach of the “Meet the Parents” and “Austin Powers” movies. Ferrell has had a number of August hits, including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and The Other Guys, both with director Adam McKay (who produced this) while Galifianakis has hit the big time thanks to his appearance in Todd Phillips’ two “The Hangover” movies. The pairing should be a solid one although we’ve already seen a couple other big comic teamings bomb this summer, while Seth McFarlane’s Ted has been established as the highest-grossing comedy of the summer. Political comedy is a tough one and it hasn’t done that well at the box office, although there’s certainly a niche for it with the audience found by the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and this being a Presidential election year means that politics is very much on people’s minds (well, except for the Olympics). The general audience for this movie is probably smarter moviegoers in their 20s and 30s, which is the exact same audience for The Bourne Legacy, and that will likely keep this down in the first weekend as that will be a stronger choice. The Campaign should end up somewhere in the mid-20 millions in its opening weekend but it should be able to pick up business going into the summer and getting closer to election time as the Olympics end, so we can see it grossing roughly $75 million total.

Interview with Jay Roach

This week, we also have two movies opening in wide release on Wednesday, something we’ll be seeing a lot more of this August as studios try to get some business before the weekend and the Olympic games – at least that’s what we assume is the reason since the last time we had this many Wednesday openers was at the last Summer Olympics in 2008. Of course, with Michael Phelps having finished his time at the Olympics, viewership may go down this week.

The most high profile Wednesday opener is the dramedy Hope Springs (Sony), starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell, which involves an aging couple (Streep and Jones) who go to a sex therapist (Carell) for advice as they pass their 31st Anniversary. While the movie may not hold any interest at all to anyone under 30 and will predominantly be of interest to women, the movie is surprisingly strong and reviews are good enough that older guys might give it a chance. The question is whether older adults will want to see a movie about sex even with such big stars, something that may limit the movie’s audience in more conservative areas, but we do think older adults do want movies to see as seen by the success of Fox Searchlight’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel earlier this summer. We also can expect that married women who enjoy it the first time will probably want to go back a second time with their husbands.

Sony is giving the movie a more moderate release into less than 2,500 theaters and while it might not make that much on Wednesday and Thursday, probably $5 million or less, expect solid reviews and word-of-mouth to build interest into the weekend to push it to $13 to 15 million for the weekend. Expect Hope Springs to have the best legs of the summer and end up with nearly four times whatever it makes in its first five days, so we wouldn’t be too surprised if it grosses $75 million or more.


The oddball of the weekend is the 3D “documentary” Nitro Circus the Movie 3D (ARC Entertainment), based on the group of stuntmen who take on daring challenges who had a show on MTV for two seasons a couple of years ago. They’re tackling bigger stunts filmed in 3D for their first movie, which was produced independently. We’ve underestimated every single “Jackass” movie to date and we don’t want to do the same here, but opening in 800 theaters makes this ARC Entertainment’s widest theatrical release though they don’t have the deep pockets to buy TV commercials and get the movie out there (as MTV did with the “Jackass” movies) so they’ve been using other methods. There’s a good chance the young guys who watch the show and love the crazy stunts will know about the movie and they’ll be out on Wednesday and Thursday not leaving much for the weekend, but we do think this can get into the Top 10 with roughly $3 million and roughly $6 to 7 million in its first five days. There probably isn’t much chance for legs but if it leaves theaters with $12 million, it will still be deemed a profitable success.

This weekend last year saw the Wednesday opening of The Help (DreamWorks/Disney), a movie that would go onto make $169 domestically and get four Oscar nominations including Best Picture. It opened quietly with $5.5 million its first day but then picked up business over the weekend to gross $26 million its opening weekend in just 2,500 theaters and $36 million in its first five days. (If you do the math, it did 4.7 times those first five days by the time it left theaters the following March which is almost unheard of.) Third place went to the latest installment of the horror franchise Final Destination 5 (New Line/WB), taking in $18 million in 3,155 theaters while the R-rated action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less (Sony), starring Jesse Eisenberg, settled for fifth place with $13.3 million, falling behind The Smurfs in its third weekend. The Top 10 grossed $134.6 million and if the box office has a chance at bouncing back, it should be with this weekend’s offerings which should end up around that same area. Potentially setting a precedent for Nitro Circus, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (20th Century Fox) tanked with just $5.7 million in 2,040 theaters, averaging less than $3,000 and ending up outside the Top 10.

This Week’s Updated Predictions

1. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) – $41.8 million N/A (down $1.9 million)

2. The Campaign (Warner Bros.) – $25.5 million N/A (up 1 million)

3. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) – $19.5 million -45% (down .1 million)

4. Hope Springs (Sony) – $13.4 million N/A (down .5 million)

5. Total Recall (Sony) – $11.0 million -57% (same)

6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (20th Century Fox) – $8.3 million -43% (same)

7. Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox) – $5.6 million -35% (same)

8. Ted (Universal Pictures) – $3.7 million -33% (down .1 million)

9. The Watch (20th Century Fox) – $3.0 million -52% (down .1 million)

10. Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D (ARC Entertainment) – $1.8 million N/A (down .7 million)

We kind of screwed the pooch on last week’s “Chosen One” but since DocuWeeks is still going on for the next three weeks, starting in Los Angeles on Friday, we’re going to try again and if you click here this time, we truly hope there will be something there to read.

As far as the other limited releases, we have a mixed bag including three movies that premiered at Sundance…

Actress-filmmaker Julie Delpy stars and directs 2 Days in New York (Magnolia), her follow-up to 2007‘s 2 Days in Paris, playing photographer Marion, who is now living with journalist Mingus, played by Chris Rock, a relationship that will be put to the test when her family visits from Paris, including her father (played by Delpy’s real father), her oversexed sister and her boyfriend. It opens in New York at the Lincoln Plaza and Angelika Film Centers and then expands to California and other cities next week.

Video Interview with Julie Delpy (Coming Soon!)

Acting coach Christopher Neil makes his directorial debut with Goats (Image Entertainment), based on the novel by Mark Poirier (who adapted it himself), starring Graham Phillips as 15-year-old Ellis who lives in Tucson, Arizona with his hippie Mom (Vera Farmiga) and her younger boyfriend (Justin Kirk), but spends more time with an odd seemingly homeless guy named Goat Mann (David Duchovny). When he decides to go to a prep school on the East Coast, he tries to reconnect with his estranged father (Ty Burrell from “Modern Family”). It opens in select cities.

Spike Lee’s new movie Red Hook Summer (Variance Films) is his return to the Brooklyn turf of classics like “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Do the Right Thing”–he even revives his role playing Mookie–but this one takes place in the housing projects of Red Hook where a kid from Atlanta named Flik Royale (Jules Brown) comes to stay with his grandfather, the religious Bishop Enoch Rouse (played by Clarke Peters from “The Wire”), when he meets the pretty Chazz Morningstar who shows him the brighter side of Brooklyn. It opens in New York on Friday. While it’s been way too long since I saw this movie at Sundance to write a review, it was literally the worst movie I saw there and it will very likely end up in my Terrible 25 this year. I was even quoted in the New York Post (last line) saying as much.

Simon Yin’s financial thriller Supercapitalist stars newcomer Derek Ting as a New York hedge fund trader who moves to Hong Kong to set-up a huge deal that soon spirals out of control as he maneuvers through China’s financial system. Also starring Linus Roache and Kenneth Tsang, it opens in select cities on Friday.

And now the movies I haven’t seen…

Opening at New York’s Film Forum on Wednesday is Meet the Fokkens (Kino Lorber), a documentary about 69-year-old twins Louise and Martine Fokkens who have worked in Amsterdam’s red-light district for over fifty years, running their own brothel.

Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Forrest Whitaker team with Never-Will-See-An-Oscar-Up-Close rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson for Jessy Terrero’s action-thriller Freelancers (Lionsgate), about the son of a slain NYPD police officer who joins the force and gets involved with a team of rogue cops that may know something about his father’s death. It’s barely getting a theatrical release before coming to DVD on August 21.

Lastly, we have three docs opening at the Quad Cinemas on Friday:

Victor Magnetti’s doc This Time (Village Art Pictures) takes a look at the back-up singers The Sweet Inspirations who backed-up Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield as well as other singers working hard to fulfill their dreams despite the hardships that come with obscurity.

Narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley, Richard Trank’s It is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl (Moriah Films) features the voice of Christoph Waltz as the subject matter, a journalist and playwright who helped set up a Jewish homeland in Palestine that eventually led to the establishment of Israel.

Lastly, Matt Mindell’s documentary The Lion of Judah (JEC Productions) follows 81-year-old Leo Zisman who stood up against the Nazis as a boy and now gives tours of the death camps in Majdanek, Birkenau and Auschwitz to young people, both Jews and non-Jews.

Next week, we start getting closer to the end of summer, fondly known as “The Dog Days” but at least we’re getting the ensemble action sequel The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate), starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and every other big-time action star of the last three decades. “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston star in the musical drama Sparkle (Sony/TriStar Pictures) while LAIKA, the studio behind Coraline, releases the animated movie ParaNorman (Focus Features) and Jennifer Garner stars in the family drama The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney).

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


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