May Madness is over, and things slow down somewhat. Traditionally, June shifts the focus away from action films to comedies, and this one's no different, with only two movies containing more than one explosion slotted for release, and an emphasis on star vehicles. This June is going to see comedy after comedy duke it out for the attention of every demographic imaginable. Most of these releases, however, are just trying to get a piece of the action before Transformers comes in and stomps them all away.
June 2009 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
June 5, 2009
1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24)
There's not going to be much of a race for the #1 spot in June. Barring a Blart-like surprise, Transformers is poised to absolutely obliterate everything else, and then some. Michael Bay went the safe route here, bringing back most of the players from the first movie - Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese, and even John Turturro
- and keeping the look and feel the same as the first go-around. The off-beat sense of humor is still there, too. Indeed, what may hurt Transformers 2 is the lack of any visible additions to the fray - if there were any cool new robots in the trailer, I didn't see them. It opens on a Wednesday, which is going to put the death knell on any chance this had of breaking the opening weekend record. I'm also somewhat surprised that this wasn't scheduled for the 4th of July weekend (and indeed, that weekend's Ice Age 3 and Public Enemies would seem to be better slotted to the last week of June instead).
Bottom line? Enough people liked the first movie to come back for seconds, and so I'm almost certain that this is going to be the highest grossing movie of the summer.
Opening weekend: $165 million five-day / Total gross: $333 million
2. The Proposal (June 19th)
The Proposal is this June's wild card, but I think it's going to surprise. It marks the return of Sandra Bullock to what she does best - high-concept romantic comedy, something she's dabbled in for about 15 years now. Indeed, Bullock is the last woman left standing out of all the '90s romantic comedy leads. This film pairs her up with Ryan Reynolds, who had some mild success in Definitely, Maybe last year and has since been doing solid work as a supporting actor, especially in Adventureland. There also look to be funny bits from Mary Steenburgen and the always-welcome Betty White, who at 87 must be one of the oldest actors working today. The direction is by Anne Fletcher, who helmed Step Up and the even bigger hit, 27 Dresses. Aside from those factors, which seem to click with each other, the Proposal's placement so high on this list also stems from my own experiences: having repeatedly seen the trailer in theaters, I've noticed an overwhelmingly positive audience reaction. While I doubt this will be a spectacularly good movie, it has the look and feel of a fun summer romantic comedy, and some of the lines in the trailer made even me laugh. My best guess: this one gets a decent opening and then legs its way up to over $100m.
Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $110 million
3. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (June 12th)
There is almost no actor working right now with as consistent a record as Denzel Washington. Throughout the last several years, he's been able to deliver one solid hit after the next, pretty much all of them thrillers. This one should be no exception. The addition of John Travolta ups the ante some; he's certainly coming off some big recent films, like Wild Hogs (I didn't say good recent films). The direction is by Tony Scott, who helmed Washington's Man on Fire, Deja Vu, and Crimson Tide. In being a summer remake starring Washington, Pelham reminds one immediately of The Manchurian Candidate, a good film that delivered $65 million in 2004, a tally lower than some expected. Out of all of Denzel's recent releases, though, this one may most resemble Inside Man, which also had a hostage situation plot and several name co-stars to bring up the box office. I'm a little torn right now as to whether Pelham is going to get to $100 million - on the one hand, all the pieces seem to be in place, but on the other, something about the trailer feels a little dour and unexciting, and the look of the film is somewhat on the cheerless side. Reviews are going to be the deciding factor in just how well Pelham will do.
Opening weekend: $37 million / Total gross: $95 million
4. Land of the Lost (June 5th)
Land of the Lost sounds like the kind of movie that would have been made as a safe, family-friendly PG adventure in the 1990s, with perhaps the likes of Tea Leoni and Kurt Russell leading a gaggle of kids into un-menacing confrontations with the prehistoric outdoors. Unfortunately, times have changed, and what the 1970s series has been adapted as is a pot-headed comedy starring Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, and not a child actor in sight! That's what makes this project so odd, and such a potential challenge when it comes to achieving box office success: Without the presence of an actor they can relate to, Land of the Lost has a lot less kid appeal than last year's similar Journey to the Center of the Earth; and a movie about dinosaur adventures is a little out there for fans of the Ferrell-McBride school of comedies (exemplified by the likes of Step Brothers and Pineapple Express). The special effects, for their part, seem more comically corny than spectacular. For now, I'll say this one scores under $100 million; the aforementioned Step Brothers only just made it to the three-digit mark last summer, and if reviews aren't on this one's side, I could see it being a box office disappointment, especially if the studio has $100 million+ expectations.
Opening weekend: $31 million / Total gross: $74 million
5. The Hangover (June 5th)
The Hangover is a likely contender to be the sleeper hit of the month, and it's a movie that's hard to predict, at least in terms of how low or high it can go. A comedy about a couple of friends recovering from a wild night out in Vegas, the buzz on this has been growing quietly but firmly. A comparison could be made to Adventureland, but that film couldn't wake up the box office despite absolutely excellent reviews and a director with a reputation for hit comedies. Still, the summer atmosphere should be more welcoming, and as we seem to have established with last year's What Happens in Vegas and 21, movies set in Las Vegas usually do well. The cast - Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis - is effectively unknown, although Cooper is definitely on the rise. The movie's box office run may ultimately be similar to the same director's Old School, another movie that was a surprise word-of-mouth hit. Like that film, The Hangover may well introduce some comedy stars who are going to be around for a while.
Opening weekend: $17 million / Total gross: $65 million
6. Year One (June 19th)
When I first heard about this project, I couldn't believe they weren't kidding. Year One is a part-prehistoric, part-Biblical comedy starring Michael Cera, Jack Black, pretty much the entire cast of SNL, all of the members of the Apatow Troupe, and the surviving remnants of the Frat Pack. McLovin' is here, too. Upon inception, the film sounded like a beautiful disaster. Nothing I've seen since has changed my opinion. Year One opens opposite the Proposal, which may position June 19th as the ultimate battle between mainstream Hollywood comedies and the brand I'd call New Comedy - the 30 Rock/Office/Apatow/Ferrell wing of the party. The release date is also incredibly appropriate, coming as it does almost exactly on the one-year anniversary of the Love Guru, another project that looked like a bad idea right from the start. I'll admit, though, that Year One does somewhat resemble Nacho Libre, which, while a bad movie with a similarly odd premise, nevertheless racked up $80m. My feeling is that this film will fall in between Nacho and Guru, and if the reviews are actually positive, I may finally be convinced that anything is possible.
Opening weekend: $22 million / Total gross: $49 million
7. My Sister's Keeper (June 26th)
The June Weeper slot, previously occupied by the likes of the Bridges of Madison County and the Notebook, goes to this film. A story about a leukemia patient and her family, this one stars Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin, with Jason Patric and Alec Baldwin providing support. It's the right cast for this kind of material. The direction is by Nick Cassavetes, who of course helmed the Notebook, a fact this film's trailers are at no loss to state. But the premise of the film strikes me the wrong way, as an uncertain mix of family tragedy and courtroom drama. The same thing is wrong with the trailer, which packs on laughable lines ("from the moment we decided to genetically conceive, I suppose it was our fault") and seems to lack a clear thematic purpose. The non-existence of a strong romantic angle will hurt this one also, especially up against the Proposal's second weekend. Indeed, My Sister's Keeper may simply be too depressing to score the kind of box office usually accorded to the June Weeper. But I am prepared to be proven wrong.
Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $39 million
8. Imagine That (June 12th)
Eddie Murphy is incredibly lucky. By the time Meet Dave was released and tanked last summer, he had already managed to film not one but two additional comedies. Thus, he's got two chances to bring his career back up to par. Judging from the trailer, Imagine That looks like a fairly mild time at the movies, with the fantasy angle, reminiscent somewhat of Bedtime Stories, being downplayed somewhat in favor of broad comedy. While I don't expect a performance on the level of Meet Dave, this one will almost certainly not gross much more than $30 million, mostly on the backs of family audiences. The Nickelodeon label might help. Also, it's nice to see Ronny Cox in a movie again. Just saying.
Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $33 million
9. My Life in Ruins (June 5th)
The fate of Nia Vardalos was something I'd not contemplated for some time now. After the surprise mega-hit she delivered with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Vardalos was effectively given the power to make any movie she wanted, and so she promptly made Connie and Carla. That latter film, of course, was a notorious flop, grossing only $8 million. So the question on my mind was, would she ever get a second chance?
Well, she finally did. Playing a tour guide in Greece who falls in love with one of the locals, this film places her squarely in familiar romantic comedy territory. Associating the movie with something Greek, presumably to bring back happy memories of Vardalos' first big hit, may or may not help. The title is a pun, and indeed the film's scenery reminds me of last year's Mamma Mia!, though I am fairly confident that the box office will not.
Opening weekend: $6 million / Total gross: $22 million
10. Away We Go (June 5th)
Away We Go is the anointed indie darling of the month, a Sam Mendes movie released fairly soon after his Revolutionary Road. It's a comedy about a couple traveling around the United States (and finding themselves in the process, I'd reckon), and thus it fits into one of my favorite sub-genres, the Road Trip movie. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, in the leads, bring some quirky credibility to the table, but Away We Go is going to need all the help it can get from movie critics if it wants to break out into some wide release recognition. Right now, the RottenTomatoes score is at 50%, and that will have to go up.
Opening weekend: $2 million / Total gross: $15 million