Weekend Forecast for July 27-29, 2012
By Reagen Sulewski
July 26, 2012

That poor cow.

And that's pretty much the end of the giant opening weekends for a while. The last weekend of July and the whole month of August pretty much limp their way home to the finish line, which isn't to say there's nothing worthwhile coming out in theaters – it just won't be putting up any gaudy numbers.

Another of Ben Stiller's ensemble comedies leads the way for the two new films this week. The Watch (formerly Neighborhood Watch) puts him, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade (of The IT Crowd) as a group of suburban dads who form a watch group to help counter an alien invasion, which is apparently just taken as a given here.

With this foursome and director Akiva Schaeffer (of Lonely Island fame), it's going to play heavily on the Comedy of the Lame aspect, with the trailer and commercials putting a lot of emphasis on just how ill-prepared and power-trippy this group is. “Look, they're playing gangsta rap to look tough, but they're not tough!” Ha ha ha, we get jokes. This looks to be combined with the Ben Stiller influence of taking a joke way past the point of where it's funny into that uncomfortable area where it drags with the hope of taking it even further to the point where it's funny again (aka The Rake Scene Scale). Really, most of the film seems to be assembled from the basest level of each actor's shtick – Stiller's barely repressed rage, Vaughn's brash arrogance and Hill's insecure man-child. Really, looking back on that group, it seems like an inherently flawed group of actors, who are all playing the same note. Only Ayoade gets a bit of a pass here since American audiences aren't that familiar with him.

I'm maybe not being totally fair to the film, which also has some action-comedy set pieces to fall back on. Even those are fairly unimpressive, though, and a weird outline effect plus exploding cows does not a comedy masterpiece make. Reviews are appropriately terrible too, which will probably bring down the film's opening from Stiller's decent comedy average. I'm not sure the addition of the other actors add anything to that either, as the overlap between Stiller and Vaughn's audiences is pretty close to complete. I look for around $17 million this weekend.

If you had predicted six years ago that the Step Up series would be on its fourth film and making multiple tens of millions of dollars of profit each time, you'd have been viewed as a mad genius. I remember the '80s, and that breakdancing fad sure seemed to come and go a lot faster than this one, which is closing in on a decade-long run. But I guess the So You Think You Can Dance people have to get jobs somewhere, right? Anyway, here we have Step Up: Revolution, which shifts the scene from... wherever... to Miami, where dancers set up flash mob dances to show just how inequality is affected the world, and all those Wall Street fatcats have to suck it! Look, you come up with a better current-events themed plot line in the ten minutes they thought about it, okay?

In 3D again because why not, Revolution will hope to stop the slight decline in opening weekends in the series. While the first opened to just over $20 million in 2006, the most recent started with just under $16 million, which accounting for inflation and 3D tickets, is a pretty major decline. No doubt not having any recognizable names in the cast outside of dance fanatics isn't helping. Even Channing Tatum had a couple of titles to his name before the first Step Up film. I don't think that decline will stop here, and about $15 million seems likely.

So to get it out of the way, yes, the opening weekend total of The Dark Knight Rises was almost certainly affected by the shootings in Colorado, though of course that's irrelevant compared to the human cost. Still, the show must go on.

There's been some question as to whether people who changed their mind about seeing the film on opening weekend would just shift their viewing to another weekend – and while there might be some people for whom that's the case, typically what happens is that those are simply lost opportunities for the film. Lost time in a weekend can't be earned back later barring some kind of holiday period. Thus, the $160 million (the third highest total ever, so hardly a disappointment) becomes the new baseline for the film. The most recent analogy for Rises might be last year's end-of-a-series film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which jumped out to a huge $169 million opening, and then promptly fell away by almost three-quarters for its second weekend. That's a bit of an extreme example, and The Dark Knight Rises doesn't have quite the finality of Harry Potter, but I also believe there was some rush to see how Chris Nolan was ending this series. A drop by more than half seems assured, and significantly more than that isn't crazy to expect either. The generally favorable word-of-mouth doesn't hurt, but it's probably not a big factor in this case, with how amped people would have been to see this film right away. I look for a second weekend of around $69 million, or a little less than The Dark Knight earned in its second weekend.

Just about everything suffered last weekend, with only two films in the top ten not falling by more than half – Brave and To Rome With Love. To me, this shows that it was an across the board effect from the Colorado incident (there was zero reason for Batman to hurt, Ted, Brave, or Moonrise Kingdom), but again, this tends to be a permanent effect on films. So Ice Age: Continental Drift may bounce back a bit, but not dramatically so. It should earn around $11 million in its third weekend, which will put it well behind the pace of the other three films in the series. This might top it out at $150 million domestic or less, though the international take remains the key here.

Ted should come back up to around $7 million this weekend after dropping nearly in half in its fourth weekend, though its (positive) fate is already sealed. The little foul-mouthed comedy that could is on its way to around $220 million total.

Meanwhile, The Amazing Spider-Man might fall below $5 million in a weekend by just its fourth, which is a pretty stunning turn of events. $250 million might be a struggle now for its total, which isn't going to leave the film in a loss position long term, but is definitely a hit for the franchise.