After an astounding showing by Jurassic World last weekend, which effectively gave the box office a much-needed kick in the pants, the pressure’s on for the latest from Disney•Pixar and a smaller indie movie that played at Sundance to deliver. Can either one take down the behemoth in its second weekend, even if it has a substantial drop? (That was rhetorical. The answer is “no.”)
Distributor: Disney/Pixar Animation
Pixar Animation is back! After taking 2014 off to regroup after the successful release of the sequel Monsters University, which grossed $743 million worldwide, they’re releasing the follow-up to the Oscar-winning 2009 hit Up from director Pete Docter, which also grossed $731.1 million worldwide. That movie opened with $68 million in late May while many schools were still in session, but Inside Out should take advantage of the later June release since all schools are out everywhere. That’s been the case with Toy Story 3, which opened with $110 million on this weekend in 2010, and Monsters University, which took in $82.4 million on this weekend two years ago. Other June Pixar releases include Cars 2 in 2011 and Brave a year later, both which opened with $66 million, which seems like a fairly good benchmark for Inside Out.
Even diehard Pixar Animation fans have been complaining about all the sequels they’ve been producing in the last few years after being bought by Disney, so Inside Out is a welcome change by going back to the original concepts that made Pixar so beloved in the first place. Not all of them have opened like gangbusters, but the animation studio has helped pave the way for the CG animation art form to be more accepted among mainstream audiences over the past 15 years.
They have another great voice cast of some of comedy’s finest, most notably Amy Poehler and Bill Hader, who will likely be on the talk show circuits promoting the movie, but this is just another great voice cast all around.
There haven’t been that many kiddie movies in theaters, the most recent one being Disney’s Tomorrowland, which pretty much flopped with less than $100 million grossed domestically so far. There’s little question that the reviews for Inside Out should be stellar, convincing anyone dubious of Pixar’s return to check out their latest, but for the most part, buzz has been great for months as the movie screened at the exhibitor convention CinemaCon and at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
The idea of emotions, memories and personality islands adds up to an odd and complex premise, one that’s not nearly as accessible and mainstream as something like Cars or Monsters, Inc. which is an easy to sell to kids, but that shouldn’t be a problem because having the Disney and Pixar brands will be enough for many. That said, we’ve seen well-reviewed films like Ratatouille and WALL*E open on the lower-end of the Pixar spectrum, maybe because they didn’t have as accessible main characters.
It also doesn’t have the benefits of being a sequel to a hit movie, so all the characters are new and there isn’t quite the urgency to rush out to see it rather than waiting to hear from colleagues, friends, family whether it’s worth seeing.
One of the reasons why Pixar does a great job among audiences that normally don’t go to animated movies like guys from 13 to 30 is that they tend to offer subjects that will interest them otherwise, such as the superheroes of The Incredibles. Could a movie about a little girl’s emotion have the same draw to those audiences other than to the Pixar-devoted, who really didn’t do much for the last Pixar movie with a female lead, Brave? Inside Out will definitely be targeting women, particularly mothers with kids, rather than the young males that might not have much interest.
Computer animation in general seems to be less of a draw for families and kids than it once was. Even DreamWorks Animations’ recent hit Home has only grossed $172 million, when at one point $200 million was the low benchmark for one of those movies. It might be a different story because Pixar is far more respected than the other studios’ animation houses, but it’s still facing a declining interest in computer animation.
The demand for a strong animated family film in the marketplace should make this a first choice for families with younger kids that haven’t gone to the movies in a while, plus it also should bring in the older animation and Pixar fans who’ve been itching for an original premise. It should give Jurassic World a run for #1 on Friday and we can probably expect an opening weekend in the low $70 millions. That might not be enough to dethrone Jurassic World, making this a rare Pixar movie not to open at #1, but it should be a good basis for it to continue to bring in business over the rest of the summer (or at least until the opening of Minions). I could see it doing somewhere in the $250 to 260 million range, which would be lower than some of Pixar Animation’s biggest hits (including Up) but higher than other non-sequels like Brave, Cars, WALL•E and Ratatouille.
Distributor: Open Road
There really isn’t a lot of easy comparisons for this coming-of-age crime-comedy that was picked up at this year’s Sundance after being one of the festival favorites. It’s a movie written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, who had urban hits with The Wood and Brown Sugar, but it’s a movie that probably owes more to Ice Cube’s Friday movies or the House Party films, which are both fairly dated comedies. That’s kind of the point of this movie about a nerdy teen who lives in a tough section of South Central L.A. who is obsessed with ‘90s hip-hop and gets involved in selling drugs while trying to stay out of trouble.
Reviews were mostly positive out of Sundance and it created a lot of buzz for the newcomers that star in it, mainly because it was such a different movie than we normally see at Sundance. Open Road picked it up for $7 million, which is quite a lot for a Sundance pick-up, but they clearly saw that it had mainstream potential if marketed right.
Although the movie is only opening in 1,800 theaters, they’re targeting it directly to the urban audience that might dig the movie by opening in the bigger cities and most of the marketing is geared towards young urban audiences with commercials during sports and comedies.
This is a comedy geared towards younger audiences even with its R rating, and that could mean grabbing some of the young urban males that won’t be as interested in the new Pixar movie and that have already seen Jurassic World.
There aren’t any big stars to help sellt he movie since Shameik Moore and Kiersey Clemons are complete unknowns. Tony Revolori starred in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, but that’s a really different audience and really, the biggest star is Forest Whitaker, who is basically the narrator.
The lower theater count certainly limits Dope’s opening, but it’s also Open Road’s first attempt at reaching an urban market and while they’re doing everything right, can they have the success that more experienced studios like Screen Gems and Lionsgate and even Fox Searchlight (who released Famuyiwa’s last two movies.)
Unlike Famuyiwa’s last few movies that were generally targeting older African-American women, this one is going after younger guys and girls in the high school and college age range, and it’s hard to determine whether they’d want to see a movie about characters their own age that deal with some of the things as opposed to the big budget FX movies we normally get over the summer.
Early tracking for the movie is pretty dismal both in terms of awareness and interest but a lot of that can be that the target demo for the movie, those that might have any interest in seeing it, would not be involved with these tracking polls. The real tell might be how well it’s doing on social media and even that’s hard to gauge with a generic title like “Dope.”
While I might have higher hopes if this were released in other periods like during the normally slower January through April period, releasing it during the summer only works because schools are out and the target audience are desperate for entertainments. With that in mind, I could see this opening in the $7 to 9 million range and not much higher, but it’s probably going to do better based on word-of-mouth than having an impact its opening weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it ending up with $25 to 30 million as that word of mouth starts to spread.
Dope Review (Coming Soon!)
This Weekend Last Year
Without a Pixar movie, last year this weekend was a down weekend, although any thoughts that 22 Jump Street might pull a repeat or How to Train Your Dragon 2 might move into the lead were dashed when the comedy sequel Think Like a Man Too (Sony/Screen Gems), starring the ever-present Kevin Hart (as part of an ensemble) won the weekend with $29.2 million. That’s compared to the $33.6 million opening of the earlier movie two years earlier but enough for #1 with the two other sequels falling just behind. Before having an enormous hit later in the year with American Sniper, Clint Eastwood tackled the Four Seasons with the movie musical Jersey Boys (Warner Bros), which opened in fourth place with $13.3 million. The Top 10 grossed $135 million but with Jurassic World still running rampant and Pixar’s Inside Out entering the market, we should be up for a second weekend in a row.
This Week’s Updated Predictions
UPDATE: Not too many changes although we’re giving Dope a little of a boost because it seems to be connecting with the intended African-American audience. Since Entourage is losing almost half its theaters but the Bryan Wilson biopic Love & Mercy continues to expand, it should remain in tenth place for a second weekend.
1. Jurassic World (Universal) – $84.5 million -59% (up .5 million)
In case the summer isn’t going way too fast for you already, June comes to an end next week with the R-rated comedy sequel Ted 2 (Universal) from Seth MacFarlane, once again starring Mark Wahlberg, while Max (Warner Bros.) is a German shephard rescue dog who isn’t quite as mad as Tom Hardy.
This Week’s Must-Sees
Before we get to the limited releases, we need to talk a little about BAMCInemaFest. If you weren’t able to make it to Sundance or SXSW or Berlin or even Tribeca this year, and you happen to live in Brooklyn, then you’re in luck because some of the best movies that played at those other festivals
It starts on Thursday, June 18, with one of the best movies of the year, James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour, starring Jason Segal and Jesse Eisenberg as eclectic author David Foster Wallace and Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky who goes to the Midwest to interview him. It ends on June 28 with the New York premiere of Sean Baker’s Tangerine, a slice-of-life comedy about the transgender working girls Sindee and Alexandra who we follow over 24 hours on Christmas Eve.
In between those two movies is a fantastic array of diverse films including Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth, starring Elisabeth Moss—the festival Centerpiece—Karyn Kusama’s thriller The Invitation, Sebastian Silva’s Nasty Baby co-starring Kristen Wiig and the oddball sequel to Kent Osborne and Joe Swanberg’s Uncle Kent, called Uncle Kent 2. Also, one of my favorite movies from Sundance, Kris Swanberg’s Unexpected will screen during the festival.
There are also some great docs on display including Bobcat Goldthwait’s surprisingly touching Call Me Lucky about political comic Barry Crimmins; Breaking a Monster, a doc about the teen metal band Unlocking the Truth who sign a $1.8 million contract with Sony; and Best of Enemies from Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) which looks at the political debate between William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Amy Berg’s Prophet’s Prey looks at Latter Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs, who was sent to prison after being convicted of sexually abusing children.
BAMCinemaFest is also presenting a special 20th Anniversary Reunion of Larry Clark’s Kids with Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson in attendance, which unfortunately, sold out almost as soon as tickets went on sale.
You can get tickets to some of the others at the official BAMCInemaFest site.
The Overnight (The Orchard)
Eden (Broad Green)
Interview with Mia and Sven Hansen-Love (Coming Soon!)
Infinitely Polar Bear (Sony Pictures Classics)
3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (Participant Media/HBO Documentary Films)
Other Limited Releases of Note:
Burying the Ex (Image Entertainment)
Manglehorn (IFC Films)
The Tribe (Drafthouse Films)
The Face of an Angel (Screen Media Films)
The Wanted 18 (Kino Lorber)
ABCD 2 (UTV Motion Pictures)
You can post any comments or questions below, or you can get in touch with the Weekend Warrior on Twitter.
Copyright 2015 Edward Douglas