Summer may be technically less than two weeks old, but in movie terms it's already at its midpoint. So far, I've liked Iron Man enough to see it twice and kept forgetting that Indiana Jones had a movie in theaters. Let's hope July can live up to the heat of summer:
July 2008 Forecast
By Max Braden
July 2, 2008
Weekend of July 4th
After a few years of movies in other seasons, Will Smith returns to his July 4th weekend spot. He's riding high from his December screamer I Am Legend, which had the biggest opening weekend of his career. Apart from Wanted he's got no competition for the action audience, and benefits since Hancock shares a lot of elements with Iron Man. It'll be in the top three debuts this year so far, but I'm not sure Hancock will be Smith's $100 million opener. The anti-hero + bum angle might make some audiences a little wary. But I'm looking forward to this more than Batman.
Also notable: On DVD this week is February's Secret Service thriller Vantage Point, which will probably top rental lists.
Weekend Starting July 11th
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
I think most comic book/sci-fi fans who saw the first Hellboy would agree that it was somewhat overlooked and underrated. I really liked how Ron Perlman and director Guillermo del Toro humanized the demon character. Both are back for the sequel and the visuals are fantastic, looking just as much like a sequel to del Toro's previous movie Pan's Labyrinth. Hellboy II will be the box office winner of new openers this weekend, though it may still get beaten by Hancock's second weekend take.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Preceding his third Mummy movie by only a few weeks, Brendan Fraser doubles up on the adventure with this family-oriented flick. Success for this one will depend on how many kids they can pull in; I'd rewatch Honey I Shrunk The Kids rather than going to see this. However, it is being distributed in Real 3-D format, which may pull in adult audiences for the visuals.
I'll give it to Eddie Murphy, he doesn't bother with conventional roles. But I think he's overdue to get back to the 48 Hrs and Beverly Hills Cop type roles that made him a movie star. Meet Dave looks like a cross between Steve Martin's All of Me and the pre-launch scene in Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask. I don't know why kids or adults would bother going to this. Maybe the trailers should advertise Elizabeth Banks more.
Also notable: On DVD this week, the horror-adventure The Ruins looks like it will be the top rental this week.
Weekend Starting July 18th
The Dark Knight
This of course will be the dominant movie of the week, the month, the summer, and the year. The sequel to Batman Begins brings in Heath Ledger as The Joker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the love interest. Not that the movie needed a boost, but audiences were responding largely to Ledger's performance in the trailer before his untimely death, which will naturally bring in more curious viewers. Still, I think the movie is still too dark to open big enough to beat Spider-man's numbers.
Just because Batman will dominate the box office doesn't mean there isn't room for counterprogramming. The film version of the hit stage musical stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth - a forumla for a 'surprise' hit. I still need to figure out how to not see Amanda Seyfried as the dead girl from Veronica Mars.
Also notable: The sequel Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay arrives on DVD for audiences looking for comedy.
Weekend Starting July 25th
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Fox is going to have to step up the advertising if they want to draw audiences who aren't already die-hard fans of the series. The trailers offer nothing about the story and the first movie was ten years ago. Without any oomph it's going to be a struggle to open at more than $25 million.
This is going to be one of those love-it or hate-it, so absurd you have to laugh comedies. Will Ferrell seems to have peaked with Talladega Nights, and this story has a slightly darker, more oddball comedic tone to it. I laughed once during the trailer (burying John C. Reilly). If this movie makes money, it will be from surprisingly long legs.
Also notable: On DVD this week Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth try to bust Vegas in 21.