Archive for May, 2012

What Hollywood has learned from the box office this year

May 28, 2012

What Hollywood has learned from the box office this year

Every year, the box office provides studios with a tremendous amount of data: what works, what doesn’t work, what’s making money, what isn’t.

This year is no different…as we get the returns from the Memorial Day weekend, we can speculate on what the studios have learned this year.

Sequels are good…and multi-series sequels (MSS) are better

The biggest movie of the year (and likely to be the third biggest movie in the USA all time by the end of this week), The Avengers, is a multi-series sequel (MSS). I don’t think there has been a team-up like this since Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. 😉 While the movie was mega expensive at about $220m, it’s going to have made a ton of money. This makes a Justice League movie a whole lot more likely…although I don’t know that Batman would be a part of it. They’ve made the character so dark, he clearly doesn’t play well with others. Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Aquaman…there are quite a few possibilities. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island broke $100m dogro (domestic gross), and surpassed its predecessor. American Reunion was a relatively inexpensive investment, revitalized a series, and will make a nifty profit worldwide. Men in Black III knocked The Avengers off the top spot, and has a solid opening. It’s too soon to say where it will really end up, but it certainly has had a respectable opening.

Sequels are bad

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance didn’t exactly burn up the box office, so to speak. It won’t make half what its predecessor did domestically. Of course, they could just blame that on Nic Cage. 😉  Wrath of the Titans cost about $150m, and hasn’t dogroed $100m

Baby Boomer nostalgia is bad

It had to happen at some point. Baby Boomers are a population segment born roughly between 1946 and 1964, when there were an unusually high number of births. For years, movies have been made to appeal in part to this group. One of the big media definers for the Boomers was television: it brought them together, before it became more fragmented with the advent of cable television. Dark Shadows was one of those unifying shows, with both boys and girls rushing home to see it. However, the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton version will struggle to dogro half of its budget. Television also brought some older theatrical properties into homes, making new fans for the Universal horror movies…and The Three Stooges. Despite what was generally considered a respectful reboot, the Farrelly brothers’ movie is unlikely to dogro $50m. Battleship may have banked in part on Boomer nostalgia for the boardgame, introduced in 1967. If we figure that you had to be at least seven to play the game, that means you had to have been born by at least 1960…and maybe fifty-two year olds aren’t driving the box office (at least for big budget 3D movies). This doesn’t bode well for Depp’s The Lone Ranger, opening May 31st of 2012. That show had also been on radio, and therefore may appeal to the previous generation, called the “Greatest Generation”…but again, they may not be the ones to fill theatres. That didn’t happen with George Lucas’ World War II movie, Red Tails.

Gen X nostalgia is good

Gen Xers were the group that followed Baby Boomers…say, born in about 1965 to 1981 or 1982 (generation naming is inexact). 21 Jump Street  is currently a top five movie for the year, and around $135m dogro. The source series started in 1987 and ran until 1991. The success of this follows the Tranformers movies and The Karate Kid remake to show the current market power of this age group. Expect more of this, even though it doesn’t always work.

CGI is bad

John Carter is being painted as a legendary flop, along the lines of Ishtar and Heaven’s Gate, but that’s an exaggeration. Those two movies didn’t dogro $20m combined…and John Carter is close to eighty. Yes, John Carter cost a lot more, but with both Ishtar and Heaven’s Gate having budgets near $50m, John Carter was relatively a success. If you Google John Carter and CGI, you’ll see many headlines blaming the movie’s dependence on CGI (Computer Generated Images). The same thing is true if you Google Battleship. In both cases, the perception is that lots of money was spent on CGI special effects and it wasn’t worth it.

CGI is good

The Avengers has about 2,200 special effects shots…very close to John Carter’s 2,295, from the figures I’ve seen. The Avengers is seen as more character driven, but certainly the long climactic battle is just as CGI driven as BattleshipMen in Black III, while having great Rick Baker physical make-up effects, also has significant CGI. This year is not going to stop studios from using the technology.

Bows and arrows are good

What do the two biggest grossing movies (by far) of the year have in common? Twang! Both The Avengers and The Hunger Games feature bow-wielding heroes. It will be interesting to see if that helps the ratings for the archery events in the Olympics (and the CW’s Green Arrow series in the fall). Even if it’s Cupid’s metaphorical arrows did well: love is good. 🙂 The Vow dogroed $125m..on a reported budget of $30m. Think Like a Man dogroed over $85m…on a relatively tiny budget of $13m. Love is cheap…but it pays off. However, the studios will have to be careful that it doesn’t lead to budget inflation in the future. In the 1950s, science fiction movies almost always made  money because they were so cheap and high concept. Now, they can be very expensive…relationship movies will have to avoid that.

Movies based on books are good

The Hunger Games is blowing away records for a non-sequel. There is no question that having a built-in audience from the books helped launch it…and maintain it. What’s the third biggest movie of the year so far, and well over $200m dogro? Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Throw in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island  and Think Like a Man, and you have a bunch of over performers. Compare the $78m budget for The Hunger Games with the $220m for The Avengers, and you’ll see that words can be cheaper than effects.

Movies based on books are bad

John Carter. I could just stop there, but this is really a concern for some geeks. The movie was based on a series of books that have been available and avidly read for about a century. It had a director/screenwriter with a great record, no skimping on the budget, released by a major studio…it seemed like a pretty sure bet. This is going to make studios cautious about making older books into new movies…and there are so many great old geek books that could be done!

In summary…

As you can tell, there are a lot of lessons…but they often contradict each other. 🙂 If it was clearcut, studios would get better every year at being profitable, and that’s just not the case. One reason? It’s a lot easier to hire a person than a concept. If Channing Tatum and Josh Hutcherson have a great year, it’s a simple choice to cast them in your movie for a hoped-for boost. There are other lessons this year (a movie that people didn’t like can be marketed into a big profit, for example). One thing we know about next year: the studios will be right…and wrong. 😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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My take on…Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows

May 24, 2012

My take on…Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows

“Mercy.  There was a time when I needed it.  A time that I…I begged for it from those who could so easily have given it: from those who could have understood and helped. But they chose not to…and now, I choose not to.”
–Barnabas Collins (played by Jonathan Frid)
Dark Shadows episode 257
screenplay by Malcolm Marmorstein

Reviewers have not been particularly merciful to Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows.

While the trailer made me mad, I was willing to wait and see if the movie was the silly farce shown in that trailer or not.

Honestly, it was more serious than that…although there were farcical elements. Tonally, I’d put it along the line of Death Becomes Her…there were silly things (lots of them), but there was an attempt to give us some horror as well. I’m not quite sure I understand the point of the campaign: I don’t think people would walk into it expecting a comedy, and say, “Wow, that wasn’t what I wanted…but it was good.”

SPOILER ALERT

Let me say first that I have watched more than one hundred episodes of the original 1960s series…recently. I also watched the show when it was originally broadcast.

However, I don’t think that I am strictly judging it by comparison.

I found the movie surprisingly…uninteresting. Not bad or offensive, which is what I thought it might be for fans of the series. The moviemakers didn’t disrespect the original, which would have been possible. There were many nods to the TV show. Even some of the original cast members cameo, and are specifically invited to the party (you may notice them with that much information).

No, I think the main problem is that Barnabas Collins is undeniably the hero of the piece (despite violently killing people), but there was very little drama in that for me. When Barnabas was alive, he was a philanderer and seemed to be…a bit of a lazy, self-entitled aristocrat. After he is cursed to be a vampire, he doesn’t seem to have gained much true nobility. He seemed…petulant about the situation, not self-sacrificing…or even vengeful.

He was a vampire without teeth.

It’s very hard to maintain a movie when the protagonist doesn’t appear to have any real driving motivations, just situations.

Were there funny sight gags?

A few…most of them were pretty obvious. There were some good bits of Burton whimsy…there was a complex mechanism I particularly enjoyed.

This is all very different from the series. There was a lot of suspense about whether people would discover Barnabas was a vampire…here, it’s just stated right out, no surprises. Barnabas was tortured…and evil. That was part of what made him interesting. We understood that Jonathan Frid’s Barnabas Collins wouldn’t have chosen to be a vampire…but that he might have been cruel even if he hadn’t been.

Removing that complexity simply makes the story less engaging.

END SPOILER ALERT

There were a few good performances.

The amazing Chloë Grace Moretz was at times mesmerizing in a period performance (the movie is set 25 years before the actor was born). She’s already done some great work, and has more in front of her.

Eva Green had great fun as the primary antagonist, Angelique Bouchard. She brought a lot of life to the movie.

At some point, I’m going to get over British actors doing American accents (that used to be pretty impossible…even Laurence Olivier couldn’t pull it off), but Helena Bonham Carter handles it beautifully as Dr. Julia Hoffman (an important character in the TV series). I would say that the role was a bit underwritten, but she was intriguing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like either Michelle Pfeiffer or Jackie Earle Haley found anything that wasn’t on the page.

Speaking of the script, I think Seth Grahame-Smith may not be the mainstream screenwriting success some might have hoped at the end of this year.  The next test will be Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter…and I won’t say that I felt a lot of enthusiasm at the trailer (which ran before Dark Shadows). That doesn’t mean that it won’t happen, but I think not in 2012. Dark Shadows didn’t especially impress me, although it was a complicated assignment (it’s not easy to adapt a show that had over 1,000 episodes!).

Bottom line…I wouldn’t avoid seeing it, even if you are a fan. It’s the kind of movie that might be a great time passer on an airline or some slow late night.

Have a different opinion? Feel free to let me and me readers know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Is The Hunger Games a remake of Battle Royale?

May 20, 2012

Is The Hunger Games a remake of Battle Royale?

I’ve seen people ask the headline question, and having recently watched the 2000 Japanese movie Battle Royale, I can completely see how someone one familiar with that movie would assume that the makers of the 2012 The Hunger Games movie would have paid for the remake rights.

Now, to be clear, Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games series, has said that her work was uninfluenced by the Japanese movie (and the 1999 book on which it was based). That may certainly be true: I’ve had those sorts of “paralell creative evolution” things happen personally. For example, I wrote an updated version of Sherlock Holmes, in which Watson was a blogger. There was a later creative work that used the same idea…I think it highly unlikely that my work influenced the other, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been similar works (of which I was unaware) before mine.

However, there are really striking similarities…and significant differences.

There really isn’t a way to discuss this much further without some spoilerism, so

SPOILER ALERT

Similarities between the movies

  • Young people are forced to battle each other to the death until only one remains alive
  • Television covers both events (although it doesn’t appear that people watch Battle Royale live…we do see a TV crew rushing up to a survivor of the games)
  • There are a series of games
  • Contestants are given a backpack (or the opportunity to get one) with random contents…they may be good or bad
  • There are a small number of contestants with superior skills (the “careers” in The Hunger Games, the “exchange students” in Battle Royale)
  • Poison figures in both
  • The battle takes place in an arena, with changing hazards that complicate things
  • Relationships between the players are important, including an at least potentially romantic couple
  • A male and female couple of participants are mentored by a previous player of the game…who drinks alcohol when they apparently don’t
  • There is a saccharine female television personality…Effie in The Hunger Games

Differences

  • One of the key things is that Battle Royale basically takes place in our culture. The Hunger Games is an entirely different society, and the dystopian government seeks to keep outlying districts in line. The motivation for Battle Royale has more to do with teenagers not respecting their elders
  • The contestants in Battle Royale are all from the same school…the fact that they all know each other (although some much better than others) is very different and influences the movie

There are certainly other differences, but those are two of the key ones.

END SPOILER

Let’s get down to the key thing here: I liked Battle Royale better than The Hunger Games movie. In fact, it was the best movie I’ve seen in some time, even though it was at times over the top.

Yes, it was violent…although in a somewhat cartoony way. The part that really made it work for me was how the contestants behave. The dialogue (I saw it with surprisingly well done English subtitles…I don’t speak Japanese) was reasonable to me. The mean girls were mean, but they already had been.

Now, The Hunger Games books are superior, and I haven’t read the Japanese book. We get a lot more into the character of Katniss…but given that she knows the games are coming for some time (but not if she will be a participant) makes that logical. The students in Battle Royale just have it sprung on them (although they apparently could have been aware of the possibility, they weren’t).

For the movies, though, I found a lot more emotional depth in BR. We aren’t just following a few characters: I could see real relationships between many of them. President Snow was a great literary villain…but the villain in BR had me more moved.

I think more people would enjoy The Hunger Games, in part because it isn’t as harsh or graphically violent. If you are comfortable with being uncomfortable, though, I’d suggest you give BR a try.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Review: Roswell USA: Towns That Celebrate UFOs, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot, and Other Weirdness

May 15, 2012

Review: Roswell USA: Towns That Celebrate UFOs, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot, and Other Weirdness

Roswell USA: Towns That Celebrate UFOs, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot, and Other Weirdness
by John LeMay (author), Noe Torres (editor), Neil Riebe (illustrator)
published by RoswellBooks.com
original publication: 2011
size: 2427KB (256 pages)
categories: nonfiction; UFOs; Regions
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: 6
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
text-to-speech: yes

“I still had no idea that Spring Healed Jack, a mysterious figure that I had read about as a kid who terrorized London in the 1800s had also supposedly been seen Silver City, New Mexico.”
–Roswell USA

Years ago, I had a service called TAP (The Address Project). People would give me an area where they lived, and I’d give them a list of weird things that happened near there.

It was never a big success, but I had fun with it. 🙂

There was a point to it for me, too. I wanted to show that these sorts of things are reported everywhere.

Roswell USA focuses on places that have taken advantage of famous reports of weirdness to attract tourists.

The book is well-written and researched. It reminded me a bit of early Brad Steiger. There are great pictures, and the authors actually contact people involved.

The first part of the book focuses on the Roswell Incident, and I have to say, it may be the best weaving together of the various storylines (and they do contradict each other) that I’ve read.

They aren’t making fun of the events, but they aren’t endorsing them either. They do get a little humor in there:

“EBE 3 left earth for political reasons. She and the other aliens apparently didn’t care for Presidents Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush. (Author’s Note: Seriously, this is the story, totally unenhanced by me. Google it, I dare you.)”

The second part of the book was really interesting to me. While people outside of Roswell associate it with UFOs…but like any town, it has other strange happenings…ghosts, mini-dinosaurs, and more. That’s what a local writer can do for you.

The third part goes region by region through the country, telling you about weird festivals and museums. There are properly linked footnotes, which I always appreciate.

As sharp-eyed readers may have noticed from the quotation at the top of this post, there are a few minor errors. The one in the quotation is that the figure is “Spring Heeled”, not “Spring Healed”. Well, I suppose the latter might be true if Jack had visited Lourdes…or those magic fingers in a bed have therapeutic value. 😉  No, Jack was thought to perhaps have had springs in its shoes, creating prodigious leaps.

I didn’t find the few errors distracting, though.

Overall, I thought this was a fun read, and a wealth of information.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

My take on…The Avengers

May 7, 2012

My take on…The Avengers

No question, The Avengers is a big movie! It has already set the US record for the biggest opening weekend…estimated to be over $200m dogro (domestic gross). That smashes the record set by the last Harry Potter movie at $169.2m.

How well it continues to do will depend on how well audiences like it…and the initial reports look very good, with an A+ CinemaScore, an 8.8 on IMDb, and a 77 on MRQE…that’s high for a blockbuster movie.

How about my take?

First, let me say…this was about as crowded a showing as we’ve been to in a while. We went to the first show on Sunday: not always busy. We also saw the 2D version. Still, it was pretty packed.

It was also interesting: I always look at the audience, and this was unusually diverse. Women, men…and a lot of kids.

That last part was, we thought, not exactly anticipated by the movie theatre. The kids were down in the six and seven year range, but the promos were for things like The Expendables 2 and the mature rated videogame, Max Payne 3.

Once the movie got started, though, they did fine.

It was interesting to me what they knew the best. No questions, kids knew Iron Man. That makes sense, since Tony Stark’s been the hot property for Marvel besides Spider-Man (and they would have known Spidey, too). They also, though, knew the Hulk. That seems less obvious to me, but the Hulk is kid like in some ways…as you know if you’ve lived with a three-year old. 😉

There was a lot for geeks, even some somewhat less than obvious shout-outs. Jenny Agutter (Logan’s Run) was on the World Security Council. You’ll see Ashley Johnson in a small part, and may be struggling to recognize her. You probably know her from Growing Pains as curly-haired Chrissy Seaver. She also has been doing cartoon voices, including Terra on Teen Titans. The connection to this movie, though, is that she appeared on Joss Whedon’ts Dollhouse series.

Joss Whedon, by the way, can lay to rest any questions about mainstream success. Maybe that’ll be better leverage the next time they want to cancel Firefly, hm? 😉

For me, the movie accomplished what it wanted to do. It was fun, and I was concerned about managing all of the heroes, but the movie does a good job giving them each their due.  Since a lot of it has to do with how they interact (even a “When Titans Clash” hero slugfest), that makes it easier. It was good to see Tony Stark and Bruce Banner bonding over science.

It would have been nice to see Captain America make some reference to Tony being his friend Howard’s son, but that’s only a minor thing. In fact, it’s probably good to ignore minor things here. Sure, the Hulk seemed to become a member of the team rather suddenly. Tony’s reactor in his chest is sometimes visible through his Black Sabbath T-shirt, sometimes not.

Geeks should just sit back and enjoy the ride. 🙂

What about non-geeks?

That fits my Significant Other. Interestingly, my SO thought Mark Ruffalo’s and Jeremy Renner’s performances (as Bruce Banner and Hawkeye, respectively) were good, and helped make the movie a lot more enjoyable…despite the noise. 😉

I can’t say we thought the acting was all at that level…Samuel L. Jackson seemed a bit less than committed (and I usually really like him), and neither of us were impressed with Scarlett Johansson’s interpretation of Black Widow.

I do have to say, I’d still like to see the Hulk be played by a person. Yes, this CGI Hulk had a face clearly based on Ruffalo’s face, and there also appeared to be quite a bit of motion capture…but it still looked like a cartoon.

Overall, it was a fun time, worth seeing.

I’m already seeing predictions that it will hit $400m dogro. Only eleven movies have done that so far, and it’s going to have some tough summer competition. I do think it will likely beat Dark Shadows next week, but I’m not entirely convinced it will catch and pass The Hunger Games, which I think may still pass $400m…although theatres are becoming scarce.

Feel free to tell me (and my readers) what you thought of it…are you going to go back? Did it meet your expectations? Will it be the biggest movie of the year? Did you stick around for the end credits teaser, and what did you think?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Audiences, assemble! Geeky summer movies 2012

May 2, 2012

Audiences, assemble! Geeky summer movies 2012

I’ve previously given you a

The Measured Circle 2012 Movie Preview

but I suspect you’re a bit more focused on the summer now than you were in January. 😉

Well, I don’t know about that, actually…they keep moving back when summer starts. It’s a bit like the way you can buy Halloween decorations in August in the stores.  It used to be that the summer movie season wasn’t much…that’s pre-Jaws (1975).  Kids were outside playing kick the can in the park, right, not in the movie theatres…and they certainly wouldn’t be caught dead in the mall in those days.

Well, once Jaws showed that movies in the summer could make serious money, it got pushed back to Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) as the start of the summer movie season.

Now, no question, it starts in the beginning of May.

Even that’s a bit fuzzy. This year, The Hunger Games is going to continue to make money in May…and maybe even into June and beyond. Youth-skewing movies often have legs, and I could see The Hunger Games being seen over and over again in the summer. It’s possible it will get to $400m dogro.

Okay, let’s look at some of what will likely be the biggest geeky movies of summer 2012!

May 4

The Avengers

Even though this is a very expensive movie, we already know that Disney’s going to be happy to see this after John Carter. How do we know? As I write this, it has already opened outside the USA, and is doing great, setting records.

May 11

Dark Shadows

Even though the trailer made me mad, it wouldn’t be a good idea to bet against a Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration. Will it beat the second week of The Avengers, though? It’s been a year where movies have held the top spot for more than a week…that might be the case here.

May 18

Battleship

Hoping to repeat the success of the Transformers franchise, this is a loud, special effects laden adaptation of a Hasbro toy/game property…in this case, the naval warfare game. I think Transformers is inherently more accessible than sinking ships. It had already been a cartoon, and had clear characters. People talk about the first Transformers as an adaptation of the toy, but I really feel like it was more an adaptation of the cartoon series. I think this will do fairly well, but $200 million in domestic gross would really impress me.

May 25

Men in Black III

I like what I’ve heard about it. You can never have too many Rick Baker aliens, and doing a time travel thing is clever, and could freshen things. I would guess (and I know I shouldn’t be doing these predictions), that it’s a $80 to $120 dogro movie…very respectable, but not huge.

June 1

Snow White and the Huntsman

Gritty, grimy version of the fairy tale,after Mirror, Mirror’s silly fluff…this could attract some Hunger Games fans and some Twihards, with Kristen Stewart in the lead. I’m not going to guess on this one, though.

Piranha 3DD

I think $60m dogro total would be good for this, but it will probably play fairly well overseas…I don’t think you’ll need an extensive English vocabulary to get the plot. 😉

June 8

Prometheus

Undeniably, one of the movies the geek core is most anticipating (with Ridley Scott directing and Damon Lindelof co-screenwriting)…but will it play beyond that? I question whether this is really a summer movie…hypothetically, people like to think more in the fall. 😉 This could play like Inception, but I think it has a real challenge to pull those kind of numbers. One problem: the tie-in to Alien (not matter how peripheral) may not be the broad attraction it once was, since we’ve seen a lot of Alien stuff (including fighting the Predator).

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

If this beats Prometheus for the opening weekend, that will be the story on Monday. 🙂 I honestly think it might. Kids’ movies have legs (especially ones with characters with four or more), and I don’t think this is played out. I suspect it’s going to do pretty well…possibly in the low $100m range.

Safety Not Guaranteed

This is an art house, cult movie that probably won’t make $40m dogro, but it’s possible your geek friends will like it.

June 15

Geeks step aside this week for Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy.

June 22

Brave

It’s Pixar, so you can count on a hit…no jinx. 😉 You are going to hear about this having a female lead, but is that really an issue? If the movie underperforms, we can still look at The Hunger Games this year…and we’ll see how Snow White and the Huntsman does. If they all do well, expect more interest in women’s archery in the Olympics…and I think Geena Davis may still be available for an action movie. 🙂

Abraham Lincoln Vampire: Hunter

This is the year that Seth Grahame-Smith is tested as a screenwriter (with this and Dark Shadows).  Great cast (Rufus “Dark City” Sewell, Dominic “I’m playing Howard Stark, not Howard Hughes in Captain America” Cooper) for geeks, and interesting director (Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian “Night Watch” movies)…but is this too offbeat for the general population? I’m thinking it is. It’s going to be challenged by its $70m budget. Is it going to play well overseas? I’m thinking Grahame-Smith may read better than it plays as a movie, but we’ll see.  I think Brave may take this weekend.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

This is another under $40m dogro art house movie, in my opinion, that a small number of people may really like.

June 29

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

I think they might like it if this was retitled, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation with an appearance by Channing Tatum of The Vow and 21 Jump Street”. 😉 The cast is interesting: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bruce Willis, Ray “Darth Maul” Park…and Jonathan Pryce as the US President? This may be more straight ahead than the first movie, and may do pretty well. It may be, as Isaac Asimov said, a movie where you “park your brain” outside…although the author was talking about Star Wars.  I’m not saying it will be as big as Star Wars, by any means, but on the order of $80m to $120m wouldn’t surprise me. Oh, look for Han Soto in this…I’ve noticed the actor (and certified IT guy) showing up in some big movies.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Another under $40m artie, I think, this may be some people’s favorite movie of the year. Set in the American South with non-actors…and with prehistoric animals of some kind.

July 6

The Amazing Spider-Man

With great responsibility comes…a completely new cast? Well, except for a Stan Lee cameo, of course.  The idea of doing a reboot this quickly is interesting, and continuity is not a concern. Were Spidey’s webshooters organic or technological in the last movie? Who cares? 😉 I think the buzz on this is good, and Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are a definite draw.  My guess is that this appeals outside of the nerdcore, and breaks $200m (and could go beyond).

July 13

Ice Age: Continental Drift

This one should be a solidly performing sequel.

Ted

The Family Guy guy makes a non-animated, sensibility-challenging movie about an adult with a living teddy bear. Yes, the cast is intriguing (Mila Kunis, Patrick Warburton), but I’d be surprised if this draws big crowds. I think there may be quite a bit of buzz about it    (“With a scene we can’t tell you about on tonight’s program”), but will it be something people see repeatedly?

July 20

The Dark Knight Rises

When this opens, Spidey could still be on top…so the headlines could have to do with Batman taking on Spider-Man. It’s going to be positioned as the end of the Nolan Batman movies, and that should help. I’m a big concerned about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I like  Anne Hathaway, but I just don’t get the predatory feel in the clips I’ve seen. I think of Catwoman as being…cruel, in some ways, and that’s not something I usually feel with Hathaway. We’ll see, though. Regardless, this is likely a $200m dogro movie.

July 27

Neighborhood Watch

Audiences may be ready for a comedy at this point…Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn are a neighborhood watch group that encounters aliens. Seth Rogen’s last screenplay, The Green Hornet, might worry some people about this one, but my guess is that it will deliver as a mid-level movie. It’s possible events in the news could have a negative spin on the title… Update: on May 4th, Twentieth Century Fox announced that they were changing the name of the movie to avoid just that negative spin I suggested. It will now be called just The Watch.

August 3

The Bourne Legacy

If Jeremy Renner has momentum from The Avengers, that could help this. I would say it’s somewhat in danger of skewing older than folks who will see the same movie ten times in a summer. Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, David Straitharn, Stacy Keach…the silver fox club may make this attract a more “serious” crowd, but that may not be the ticket to $100m. It could be well-reviewed, which could help.

Total Recall

They are hyping this a lot, but I have my doubts about its success at the box office.  Is the Schwarzenegger movie that beloved? If it is, is it because of the concept, or the cast and the special effects (neither of which will be the same)? If it was the concept, why not go with the Philip K. Dick title (We Can Remember It for You Wholesale).  Colin Farrell’s last movie was Fright Night, which wasn’t exactly a blockbuster.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Really a kids’ movie, in an existing franchise. I wouldn’t expect it to outperform the last one.

August 10

Geeks cede the week to The Campaign (Will Farrell and Zach Galifianakis), and Hope Springs (Meryl Streep).

August 17

You’ve heard about counterprogramming…this weekend is a great example of releasing movies that are movies that are planning to split the market. It’s unlikely that the same people are going to Sparkle (a musical with Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston), ParaNorman (a quirky animated movie), and The Expendables 2.  They are figuring they are roughly splitting women and fans of musicals, animation fans (which might be families, although this isn’t for little kids, I think), and action movie dudes.

Of course, that’s overly broad, but that’s how marketers think.

ParaNorman

Director/Screenwriter Chris Butler worked on Coraline and the Corpse Bride, but this is first directing movie (co-directing with Sam Fell of The Tale of Despereaux and Flushed Away).  I’m not confident on this one burning up the box office.

The Expendables 2

Another testosterone fest, and a follow-up to a successful movie, and some new cast draws (including The Hunger Games Gale, Liam Hemsworth). I think this may do well. I don’t think people who saw the first one were dissatisfied, and I don’t think they’ve changed the formula too much on this one. The first one dogroed $103m, and I think this might, possibly top it.

August 24

The Apparition

Low budget (maybe $17m), I think this will be a profitable movie, and could do in the $50m dogro range. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies, and I thought he was impressive in Rise of the Planet of the Apes) is one of the stars, and I think he is somebody to watch over the next few years.  Mega-producer Joel Silver is involved.

August 31

The Possession

This seems too similar to the last one (in terms of audience) to succeed unless the other one completely disappears. I’m not sure why they didn’t spread this out. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen’s Comedian) and Kyra Sedgwick are in it. I wouldn’t bet on this one breaking $40m dogro.

7500

Likely to be more of an art house picture, this one may be pretty interesting. Directed by Takashi Shimizu (The Grudge), and with Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) and Amy Smart. It’s something that could be supernatural happenings…on a jet. Shakes on a plane? 😉 Sorry, that makes it sound campy, but that’s probably not the tone.

Well, there you go. 🙂 I’m not claiming my suggested numbers will be accurate here…I’m giving you how they strike me. If anything, I’ve noticed I tend to overestimate success. I will look at this later to see how I did, though. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.


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