While the first month of the summer was pretty much all about Avengers: Age of Ultron, there were a few other surprise hits, although so far, nothing that’s come close to $200 million domestically, which brings us to June.
It used to be that things would slow down a bit but that’s not happening in this case, as we get three new wide releases—an original action-comedy, a horror prequel and a movie based on a popular HBO series returning after nearly four years since its conclusion. We could be in for a weekend with surprises, but there will definitely be a new #1 and #2 this week.
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
The team of Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy are now responsible for two enormous summer box office hits with 2011’s Bridesmaids, which grossed $169 million domestically, followed by 2013’s The Heat, which paired McCarthy with one of the box office’s top female stars, Sandra Bullock. That grossed $159 million domestic, and in between. McCarthy also co-headlined Identity Thief with Jason Bateman ($134 million gross) and appeared in Judd Apatow’s This Is 40 and The Hangover Part III. Granted, McCarthy wasn’t the star of Bridesmaids—she did get a supporting actor Oscar nomination for her role in it—and she had some big help for The Heat in Bullock, but with Spy, she really is headlining it. This is McCarthy’s second movie in a row where she’s front and center after last summer’s Tammy, which grossed $84 million but wasn’t received particularly well.
McCarthy does have some added help as she’s reunited with Rose Byrne in a different role, and they’re joined by the unlikely comedy stylings of Jason Statham, coming off his villainous role in Furious 7, and Jude Law, playing a secret agent after years of being asked whether he might play James Bond. We shouldn’t lessen what these three actors can bring to the mix, especially when you consider what Byrne has brought both to Bridesmaids and last year’s Neighbors. She also co-starred in the first two “Insidious” movies, the most recent one which opened with $40 million (see below).
Director Paul Feig has certainly been making a name for himself after having back-to-back hits with Bridesmaids and The Heat, and later this year, he’s producing a new animated Peanuts movie with Blue Sky Studios and Fox and he’s also helming next year’s anticipated Ghostbusters reboot, again with McCarthy. Feig’s involvement with that might get some older guys out to see Spy where they usually might pick something else.
McCarthy is an actress who really appeals to a wide arrange of audiences and women because she’s more representative of what real women look like, unlike the Scarlett Johanssons of the movie biz, and that’s helped her connect with audiences both in movies and also on television shows like “Gilmore Girls” and the CBS hit “Mike and Molly.” She’s also able to appeal to audiences in rural and suburban areas while generally being disregarded by the elitist city snobs (but she has fans there, too).
The movie has a very simple premise and title that makes it really obvious what the joke is, that the heavy-set McCarthy is playing a secret agent, which is just so different from the Jason Bournes, James Bonds and other male action stars who have played spies.
Those who didn’t like The Heat, which doesn’t seem like many people considering how much the movie made, or Tammy, might already be getting a little tired of McCarthy’s schtick, although she’s definitely playing a different character in Spy than we’ve seen in other movies.
Because of The Heat and Bridesmaids, guys might be reticent about seeing the movie since they’ll think it’s a chick flick, but in fact they should be able to appreciate the way that the movie pokes at both classic and modern spy films without being a spoof.
Pitch Perfect 2 is still in theaters bringing in business and Insidious Chapter 3 is likely to grab a lot of the younger audience even though it’s a different genre. Entourage, on the other hand, is also a comedy and a known commodity, and Spy being an original premise might make it a harder sell. The R rating also limits its audience (similarly to Entourage).
While I’m not sure that Spy can open bigger than The Heat without the added push of Sandra Bullock, this being the first comedy since Pitch Perfect 2 makes it a great way to keep the summer comedies rolling. It should appeal to a fairly wide range of audiences, particularly women. It should open well with $13 to 15 million on Friday which should push it to an opening weekend in the high-$30 millions or higher. It should do well based on word-of-mouth and a lack of comedies (other than Pixar’s Inside Out) to rack up $125 to 140 million total.
Spy Review (Coming Soon)
Insidious Chapter 3
Distributor: Gramercy Pictures, Focus Features
Back in 2004, James Wan and Leigh Whannell came onto the scene with the low budget horror-thriller Saw, which helped to start a wave of hit horror movies that carried on after they left with the third movie. In 2010, they reunited for Insidious, a haunted house movie influenced by Poltergeist that cost just $1.5 million and made waves at the Toronto Film Festival where it was immediately picked up by Sony Acquisitions and the fledgling FilmDistrict.
The movie was released to make a relatively weak $13 million but went on to gross $54 million, four times its opening, which is unheard of generally front-loaded horror flicks. That sort of success warrants a sequel, and it opened during the equally slow month of September 2013 with a $40 million opening against Luc Besson’s The Family. It ultimately grossed $83.6 million, a little over twice its opening which showed that the fans did go out to see it opening weekend, which is more in line with other horror franchises.
Lin Shaye is back as the popular character Elise, joined by Leigh Whannel’s “Specs” and Angus Sampson’s “Tucker” who have proved popular in the previous movies, although this is more of a stand-alone story that acts as a prequel to the previous two films.
The film’s PG-13 rating will help with the younger audiences under 25 including teenagers who are now out of school and looking for something to see together.
While the previous two “Insidious” movies have been fortunate by not having much direct competition, this one is opening just two weeks after Fox’s Poltergeist remake, and considering how poorly that’s been received (dropping over 60% this past weekend), one wonders if that might affect whether moviegoers might go see another horror movie so soon.
Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are no longer part of the franchise, which may have helped contribute to the success of the original movie and sequel.
This is the first “Insidious” movie being released by Focus Features, which merged with FilmDistrict last year, and their revival of the Gramercy Pictures imprint.
The threequel is also opening against much fiercer competition in Spy and even Entourage, which will generally get the older female and male moviegoers away from seeing this. That means that Insidious Chapter 3 is relying almost entirely on younger audiences under 25, who might have better things to do now that school is out.
It might be a tight race for #1 on Friday, and while Insidious Chapter 3 has a good chance of winning Friday, it’s probably going to be as frontloaded as the previous movie, eventually shifting it to second place with somewhere in the low $30 millions and it probably will end up grossing $65 to 70 million tops i.e. less than the previous movie. It should still do well enough to warrant a fourth and probably fifth movie.
My Thoughts… (Coming Soon!)
Distributor: New Line, Warner Bros.
What It’s About: Hollywood pretty boy Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) has convinced his former agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who is now the head of the studio, to let him direct a movie, but as he goes over budget, the film’s Texas financer (Billy Bob Thornton) sends his inexperienced son Travis (Haley Joel Osment) to Hollywood to get things back on track.
Back in July 2004, HBO started airing a half hour comedy created by Mark Wahlberg about a group of friends from Queens who come to Hollywood on the success of their friend Vinnie Chase (Grenier), who is thought to be the next big thing and they soon learn the price of fame and what the movie biz is really like. One of the big takeaways from the show was watching Jeremy Piven having meltdowns as Vinnie’s agent Ari Gold, which led to Piven receiving three consecutive Emmys and a Golden Globe. The show lasted for eight seasons, ending in 2011, and in the time since then, series creator Doug Ellis has been asked about the characters returning for more and finally, he has figured out how to bring back all the popular characters: Chase, his brother Johnny (Kevin Dillon), his manager Eric (Kevin Connolly) and Jerry Ferrara’s “Turtle” and yes, even Ari, for a feature film that some might hope will be the start of a new era for the show.
The crazy thing about “Entourage” is that those characters have been so prevalent in all the actors’ careers that they’re barely known for anything else. Kevin Dillon is probably more known as “Johnny Drama” than anything else and it’s the same with Grenier and the others.
Besides having everyone’s favorite characters from the series returning, the movie promises a lot of cameos by the likes of Liam Neeson and other famous celebrities, who have been used as a selling point for the movie, for better or worse.
Warner Bros. decided to shift the movie’s release to Wednesday, probably in hopes of making some money before it gets swallowed up by the other two stronger releases, a move which actually might help it since fans of the show (particularly college-age males) will probably go to see this as early as possible.
As mentioned above, none of the actors have really gone on to take advantage of their “Entourage” fame with Connelly and Grenier directing movies, but neither of them has really been cast in anything big despite their acclaim. The same goes for Piven, who has achieved something that few others have when it comes to television, although tell someone that he’s returning to play Ari Gold and fans of the show will be thrilled.
Bringing popular television shows to theaters has sometimes worked as was the case with HBO’s other hit show “Sex and the City,” which grossed $152.7 million (compared to $95.3 million for its sequel.) Sometimes it hasn’t worked as was the case when Joss Whedon wanted to bring back the characters of his cancelled sci-fi series “Firefly” in Serenity, which only grossed $25 million roughly three years after the series ended. (And yet, “Firefly” still remains popular among Whedon’s “Browncoats,” although it does one give pause to spend money on a cancelled TV show.) More recently, Kristen Bell returned to her early character Veronica Mars for a movie that had to be funded partially by fan donations, and that grossed just $3.3 million based on a $6 million budget. (That was also released VOD so it could have made more money that way.)
In some sense, Entourage is a movie that’s really trying hard to sell itself based on the cameos, which really aren’t that fantastic other than a few surprises (many of which have been spoiled in the trailers). Unlike some of their other summer releases, Warner Bros. doesn’t really seem to know what to do this one, maybe because they weren’t involved with the marketing of the HBO show, but they’re screening it and hoping for the best.
Critics are probably not going to be too kind to the movie, mainly because it basically is an extended episode of the TV show which never has received as much critical love as things like “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad” or “Game of Thrones.”
Because Entourage opens on Wednesday, it means that diehard fans will probably try to see it on Wednesday or even Tuesday night, which will likely lessen the amount of money it makes over the weekend, although that’s also to be expected with two more movies entering the marketplace.
There’s a good chance that Entourage can have a pretty huge Wednesday opening, especially when you add in those who go to see the Tuesday previews, possibly even $7 to 8 million, but that will be its biggest day and by Friday, it will probably be down to end up with around $14 to 17 million on the weekend and probably less than $55 million total. I guess we’ll have to see if that warrants a sequel or not.
This Weekend Last Year
Last June kicked off with the release of two very different movies and it was pretty obvious that the movie based on John Green’s The Fault in our Stars (20th Century Fox) would win the weekend by a large margin with $48 million in 3,173 theaters or $15,128 per theater, another significant hit for actress Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Second place went to Malificent with $34 million, a 51% drop, while Tom Cruise’s sci-fi action flick Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros.), co-starring Emily Blunt, had to settle for third place with $28.7 million in 3,490 theaters despite many positive reviews. The Top 10 scored $153.8 million, which is probably right around where this weekend’s trio of new movies should place the box office.
This Week’s Updated Predictions
UPDATE: Oddly, we didn’t get actual theater counts from our normal sources this week, but based on what we do have, I’ve raised my prediction for Spy, lowered my prediction for Insidious Chapter 3. (It just seems like too much competition and it doesn’t seem to have much buzz compared to other movies in theaters.)
1. Spy (20th Century Fox) – $41.2 million N/A (up 3.5 million)
Only one new movie being released but it’s a doozy as we leave Jurassic Park behind for Jurassic World (Universal) with Chris Pratt taking on the dinosaurs!
This Week’s Must-Sees
Love & Mercy (Roadside Attractions)
Interview with Bill Pohlad (Later this week)
If there’s any question about Brian Wilson’s musical genius and the influence he’s had on music production, then that’s just one of the many takeaways from this wonderful functional biopic that is quite heartwarming even if for some reason you’ve never heard of Wilson before seeing it. Part of what makes “Love & Mercy” special and sets it apart from other biopics is how it shows Wilson recovering from his diagnosed clinical depression with the help of a caring woman he meets at a car dealership.
That relationship between Wilson (played by John Cusack) and Elizabeth Banks’ Melinda, a pretty former pageant contestant he meets at a car dealership, is the core of the film but we also learn about Brian’s past as we see his abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father who pushes the younger Brian (as played by Paul Dano) and never gives him the recognition for his songwriting, even while reaping the rewards of his biggest hits by taking the publishing rights. The film also shows the Beach Boys’ inner conflict when Brian decides to give up the road to work in the studio, creating tension with singer Mike Love who isn’t into Brian’s experimental productions.
With an exceptional script by Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner, the film effortlessly jumps back and forth between Wilson’s past and present as he tries to nurture a relationship with Melinda while constantly under the manipulative scrutiny of Landy, a role that’s perfectly suited for Paul Giamatti. Paul Dano and John Cusack are equally good playing Wilson during the two eras with Dano giving Wilson a youthful optimism compared to Cusack’s prescription drug-fueled lethargy. Together, they create quite a vivid portrait of Wilson both at the height of fame and during his rougher years where he practically would have vanished into obsolescence if not for Melinda’s concern.
While this technically isn’t Pohlad’s directorial debut—he directed a film way back in 1990—working with great filmmakers like Terrence Malick and others has certainly rubbed off on him, as he creates a film that isn’t particularly flashy but is quite impressive in its achievements nonetheless. Things like integrating Dano into some of the better-known Beach Boys films from that era and performing on stage, as well as showing the younger Wilson working in the studio with the musicians are some of the absolute pleasures for fans of Wilson’s music.
The results are an incredibly moving film which combines drama and romance with Wilson’s wonderful songs to create a marvelous showcase for the cast and Pohlad as a director.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Testament of Youth (Sony Pictures Classics)
We Are Still Here (Dark Sky Films)
*For the sake of full disclosure, Ted is a good friend of mine and normally I’m more critical about my friend’s work (cause I want them to do their best work) but this really is a fun horror flick full of graphic gore that is a throwback to the fun and gory horror movies of the ‘80s.
Other Limited Releases of Note:
Hungry Hearts (Sundance Selects/IFC)
Every Last Child (Zeitgeist Films)
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Magnolia)
Wild Horses (eOne Films)
Patch Town (Kino Lorber)
Doomsdays (Candy Factory Films)
Dawn Patrol (Alchemy)
You can post any comments or questions below, or you can get in touch with the Weekend Warrior on Twitter.
Copyright 2015 Edward Douglas