Monsters, Talking Planes, and Robotic Men is Just Another Weekend at the Box Office

We're now entering into the traditionally quieter month of August after being bludgeoned with special effects spectacles, animated adventures, and raunchy comedies since May.  Though the slowdown doesn't seem to be occurring quite yet.  This weekend is loaded up with 4 wide release films, and Scott weighs in with how he sees things shaping up.

As we are now into the final month of the blockbuster season, we are on the threshold of a very busy weekend that sees four wide release movies setting to make their case for audience dollars.  Not only do the new releases have to worry about other movies coming out this weekend, but next weekend also brings four new movies with it, which include early Oscar buzz with The Butler.  Also hampering the new contenders on the market is the fact that for the most part there is nothing that separates them apart from other movies that have blitzed the theatres already or that are currently in theatres.  We also have a few intriguing limited release movies to chat about, so let’s hop right in.

The movie that I am predicting to be the top of the heap is the summer’s last big budget blockbuster feast in Elysium, which stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and is directed and written by Neil Blomkamp.  While many people recognize the names of Damon and Foster, Blomkamp does not carry the same weight, yet it is his involvement that adds an increased level of intrigue to this movie.  Blomkamp’s directorial debut for a feature film was District 9 (he also wrote the screenplay), a dystopian sci-fi movie that gained four Oscar nominations with one of those was for Best Writing.  With a proven experience in well written sci-fi movies, the biggest obstacle Elysium will face is coming at the end of a long summer of shiny looking special effects movies.  However, its most comparable competition would be Oblivion, and we are many months removed from that one.  It looks to separate itself from the more recent field by creating a futuristic society with the haves and the have nots in conflict (instead of a giant monster, or someone bent on taking over the world), a common groundwork for a good dystopian movie.

Elysium Opening Weekend Prediction - $35 million

On the digital animation front, Disney is extending the universe of Cars with the first of a possible trilogy called Planes.  As I mentioned, it is set in the same realm as Cars, but the difference this time is that it is planes.  Yes, that is simplistically said, but it is not like there is a rich history of originality behind this movie.  It was at first intended to be a “straight to video” release, but has now been brought to the big screen to try and perform well in the land of diminishing returns as parents wallets appear to have dried up by this point in the blockbuster season.  Three weeks ago Turbo had a $21 million opening weekend, and last week The Smurfs 2 experienced a $17.5 million opening weekend.  With the Cars franchise making over $60 million during opening weekend for both movies, I find it more likely that Planes will be finding themselves at half of that.  The market is just too tired, there have been bigger and better movies already this summer, and kids do not seem to be clamoring for a film where Dane Cook pretends to be a prop-plane.  On a side note, I did find it interesting that the trailer for this down to earth, family movie for kids features a song by the band White Zombie, which does not really seem to align with family values.  Do not worry though, parents… the featured song is not from their Make Them Die Slowly album, or La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One so there is no need to question the choice of Disney integrating that music into your child’s film.

Planes Opening Weekend Prediction - $23 million

For the second week in a row, we have an R rated comedy entering the mix.  Last weekend, it was 2 Guns, which was a buddy action/comedy starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.  This weekend, we have what appears to be a cross between a road trip movie and an odd couple comedy in We’re The Millers.  The twist with We’re The Millers is that it is not an odd couple per se, but an odd family grouping.  The trailer shows a marijuana dealer turned smuggler who pays a stripper to pretend to be his wife, a dorky kid to pretend to be his son and a ‘gutter punk’ to be his daughter with the belief that it is easier to cross the border as a family than as a single male.  It stars Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis as the fake husband and wife.  The two worked together previously in the ensemble movie Horrible Bosses, which made $28 million its opening weekend.  The reviews are not great for We’re The Millers, and it is doubtful that the public sees Sudeikis as a box office draw while in the lead role.  It made $6.7 million on Wednesday, a decent start to the five day release weekend.  However, it will most likely not be able to continue that strongly as it will face competition from Elysium once it is released on Friday.

We’re The Millers Five Day Opening Weekend Prediction – $28 million

The last of the wide release movies breaking out this weekend is Percy Jackson: Seas of Monsters, the second movie in the Percy Jackson franchise, which is a completely original premise and not at all attempting to cash in on the success of the Harry Potter franchise.  Sure, criticize me for being sarcastic and that I only made it halfway through the trailer before realizing that life is too short, but this movie comes from Hollywood… the land of the cash cow.  What works against Percy Jackson right now is what originally was working for it.  The fad once was for young magic wielding protagonists, but the fad is now supernatural teen romances, the kind with hot, brooding young actors and actresses.  The first movie in the franchise, Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (which was directed by the same person who directed and produced a number of Harry Potter movies), made $31 million its opening weekend, which was Valentine’s weekend in 2010.  Valentine’s weekend is usually a great time for movies, and it benefitted nicely from the holiday.  Sadly, the sequel has no holiday to bank on and the first movie seems to be a distant memory at this point.  It had a decent start on Wednesday, and pulled in $5.4 million.  It is most likely that it will take the full five days of its opening weekend to match what the original did in its first three days.  If audiences flock to see Planes when it comes out on Friday it could make for a rough weekend for Percy.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Five Day Opening Weekend Prediction - $31 million

As I mentioned above, there are a few interesting limited release movies opening this weekend.  One of them stars Amanda Seyfried in the movie Lovelace, a dramatic biography about the life of 70s pornstar Linda Lovelace.  Seyfried plays the role of Lovelace, a woman who is abused and forced into the world of porn (reportedly by gunpoint) by her husband and later stands up against the porn industry.  It is currently getting mixed reviews by critics, and it will be interesting to see if Seyfried is able to bring the multiple dimensions needed to such a complex role.

Also opening in limited release this weekend is In a World… which is directed by, written by, and starring Lake Bell.  It is a comedy about competition between voice over talent in movie trailers.  It is said to be quite witty and satirical, which is a good thing considering the irony is that (besides the trailer for The World’s End) voice overs seem to have departed from trailers completely.  It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival where it won an award for best screenplay.  Thinking back, I can remember so many trailers that contained the title’s phrase ‘in a world,’ which was popularized by famous voice over king Don LaFontaine.  Currently it is sitting at 85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a bright spot on a weekend with many poorly reviewed movies.  If you are looking for a movie with an interesting concept that focuses on strong female characters in a male dominated industry, this would be the movie to see.

One last quick movie of note to touch on is I Give it a Year, a romantic comedy about a couple whose relationship is teetering on the brink of collapse by their first anniversary.  It has a cast that includes Rose Byrne, Simon Baker, Anna Faris, Rafe Spall, and Stephen Merchant, and currently it has a rotten rating of 57% on Rotten Tomatoes.