If you’re looking for box office fireworks this summer, this should be the weekend to provide them.
Weekend Forecast for June 18-20, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
June 18, 2010
Sequels usually suck, or at least represent a lack of inspiration. At least, that’s how it usually goes in Hollywood. If there’s one company you might trust on your life to produce a quality sequel, it’s Pixar. They’ve already done it with Toy Story 2, but now they’re going for the almost impossible by producing a second sequel in Toy Story 3.
Now 15 whole years after Pixar revolutionized cinematic animation, they remain the kings of the genre, having never produced a flop or even a bad movie (Cars is kind of lackluster, in my opinion, but still above par for the industry). After the near perfection of Toy Story 2, you wonder what story is really left to tell about Woody and Buzz and company, but Pixar always seems to find a way – this time reflecting the notion that Andy has all grown up and not only doesn’t need his toys anymore, but is ready to give them away to a new generation.
The toys (with all surviving voices returning including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen) all land in a daycare, meeting up with a new batch of toys, including Ken, of Barbie fame (voiced by Michael Keaton) and something called Mr. Pricklepants (voiced by Timothy Dalton). Those little kids play rough, though, and Woody and Buzz decide they need to make a break for it. Pixar appears to be taking the opportunity to quasi-parody The Great Escape, but that’s just the set pieces, and okay, Chicken Run already did that, but do we trust anyone else to tackle this subject and perhaps do it better? I don’t think so.
Reviews are typically rapturous, with this being the third film in this series to have a perfect rating at Rotten Tomatoes (one reviewer briefly said it was only okay and was swiftly beaten into a pulp by Disney goons). It’s also in 3D, the first of this series to get the technological revamp. This hasn’t proven to be a slam-dunk route to extra cash for animated films, but in the case of Toy Story, it may not need that much help. In 1999, Toy Story 2 opened to a then-gigantic $57 million, the second highest debut of that year, and finished with $245 million, the third highest total.
Pixar has always lagged a bit behind DreamWorks animation (well, the Shrek part anyway) in terms of opening weekends, but Toy Story 3 should easily be the exception. As a way of saying goodbye to a beloved franchise (from all accounts, this is their swan song) Toy Story 3 may be perfectly positioned to blow the doors off the box office. Opening at over 4,000 venues, and judging by where it sits in the pantheon of animation, Toy Story 3 should have an easy route to over $100 million in a weekend, coming in at about $111 million total.
From the very top to the very bottom we go, with the other new wide release of the year, Jonah Hex. Based on a DC comic that you’re maybe vaguely aware of, it stars Josh Brolin as a horribly scarred bounty hunter tasked with stopping the Old West’s version of a terrorist (John Malkovich – who curiously, is named but not shown in the ads for the film) with the help of Megan Fox, playing a woman who wears lingerie.
Warner Bros. is clearly hoping to pull a Ghost Rider, yanking a second-tier comic property into a $40 million plus weekend, but it looks a lot more like they’re answering the unasked question of “What would happen if you crossed Wild Wild West with The Avengers?” Of course, you get a weird sci-fi gadget mess with the sole reason for existing being to showcase the stunt department’s work. Strangely enough, its director has a Pixar pedigree but clearly wasn’t paying enough attention (or simply got lost when the actors aren’t drawn). And a shiny penny goes to whoever can tell me what’s really going on in most of those scenes being shown.
While we haven’t been without under-performing films, we’ve yet to have our a complete and utter waste of money in this season. With a reported budget of $80 million (although that’s almost certainly low), it’s a film that appeals to no one, is based on a product that people don’t know, stars no one with proven opening weekend clout and is getting thrashed by critics. If this breaks into double figures it’ll be a miracle. Give it $8 million this weekend.
The Karate Kid won the Battle of 1984 last weekend, opening to $55 million in a mild upset, perhaps largely due to being able to capture the kid market better. You might think the idea of improving on The Karate Kid is blasphemy, and the makers of this film seem to agree with you, basically just changing the setting. It’s got a tough challenge versus Toy Story 3, although the magnitude of competition is overstated a lot. The biggest factor will be the word-of-mouth, which is just all right, leaving it a second weekend of around $29 million.
The A-Team was the loser in that battle, with just $25 million in its debut. The adaptation of the over-the-top action TV series failed to connect outside of a core group of fans. Ultimately it proved too ridiculous for others to spend money on, even as it offered one of the true traditional summer movie formats – the big dumb action movie. There’s little chance that it’ll keep much of an audience – anyone who wanted to see this was pre-sold – and it should drop to just $11 million this weekend.
Following behind these films are Shrek Forever After, a rare hit this summer, which will come in around $9 million, Get Him to the Greek at around $6 million, and Killers, which will sit around $5 million.