Weekend Forecast for June 7-9, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
June 7, 2013

Hi, we saw The Strangers and got some ideas!

Remember what I said last week about that slate of films being not particularly memorable? Historians looking back at these last two weeks (why? Obviously they're bored) will view last week as a combination of Titanic and Back to the Future in comparison to this week's pointless and forgettable example of summer films. It's June and this is the best you can do, Hollywood?

It's a bit of a toss-up as to which of the two new films this week will be the highest grossing, though at the same time it's safe to say that neither is going to challenge seriously for top spot. I'd give a slight edge to The Internship based on star power, but it's a weak advantage at that.

In the film, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson star as two salesmen left behind by the modern economy who weasel their way into internships at Google, where they must find their way in the digital age as the dinosaurs they are, competing against a group of actual tech-savvy nerds. What do Vaughn and Wilson have to offer Google? Their off-kilter attitudes, apparently, and like Homer with the Springfield University nerds, they're going to teach them how to live!

I wish could do better than The Onion's takedown of this film as the “most anticipated comedy of 2005”, but that is such a perfectly constructed phrase that anything else will seem like poor imitation. Vaughn and Wilson are both past their “it” stage of comedy, with between four and five years for each of them since they could really claim a hit based on their star power (voiceover performances decidedly do not count). In broader terms, one might say they've each lost their edge, and the choice of setting only seems patronizing.

Leaving aside the lack of actual, you know, jokes in the trailers (which is of course a major problem), there's also the question of just who this movie is for. The youth audience doesn't view the starring pair as a relevant comedy duo, and will see the Google pandering for what it is. Older audiences aren't hunting for a watered-down Animal House revival about a subject they don't know anything about and reminds them of their own upcoming obsolescence. In short, this is a film for Wilson and Vaughn fans entirely, and that number is shrinking by the week. I predict a soft $15 million opening for this film.

The plot for The Purge can probably be filed under “Don't Think About This Too Hard, But Ain't It Cool?” Set in a future United States where just about every problem has been solved, unemployment is under 1%, crime at an all time low, bowling averages are up and mini-golf scores way down, it's also a country that for 12 hours a year decides to let anything go in a giant relief valve of violence. This mostly plays out as people hunting other people for sport, because isn't that what everyone really secretly wants to do? Anyway, apparently in the movie world, this purge is what's brought about these fantastic conditions so people put up with it. Yay, political allegory!

Into this scenario we bring Ethan Hawke's family, who is holing up for the annual event, but also take in a man desperate to escape a group that's hunting him. At this point we're really just down to a home invasion story a la Funny Games or The Strangers (not to dismiss the difference in vision in those two films, but...), which is ultimately not all that interesting or novel.

So the film is going to rest mostly on Ethan Hawke, who isn't all that bad a leading man, in that if you put him in a wide release, a consistently small number of people will show up, and he's not going to drive people away. I wouldn't give him a Bourne movie, but you could definitely do worse. I ultimately don't see this premise being all that interesting to help boost it over that base level, and I'd say we're looking at about $13 million this weekend.

Who the overall champ of the weekend could be is an interesting story. The inside edge would tend to go with Fast & Furious 6, thanks to its $35 million second weekend, but that comes after a drop over two-thirds from its opening. Not that surprising, really, but it's the rare film that turns that around into a solid third weekend. As it happens, Fast Five was one of those films, and the drop was exacerbated anyway by the Memorial Day hangover. I don't anticipate legs here, exactly, but some righting of the ship for a $19 million weekend isn't crazy.

The main challenger is Now You See Me, the magic-themed caper film that surprised many by opening in second place with $29 million. Mid week, it's already managed to beat out Fast & Furious 6 on one day, although this is the kind of film that tends to perform better on summer weekdays because of demographics, rather than the youth oriented car chase movie. Word of mouth on it is okay, and not rapturous, so it should get close with around $17 million, but ultimately fall a tad short of top spot.

News was bad for After Earth this weekend, and things are just going to get worse. The Will Smith/M. Night Shyamalan team-up managed just $27 million in its opening weekend and was greeted with derision by those that did actually see it. This is one expensive, noisy failure, and should drop to around $11 million for its second weekend.

Following this, we have a trio of films that finished in the $16 million area last weekend: Star Trek Into Darkness, Epic and The Hangover Part III. Epic's 50% drop is a bit disappointing considering the lock it had on family audiences, but Fox has always struggled with its non-Ice Age properties. Perhaps this can manage $10 million this weekend. Star Trek Into Darkness seems destined to just limp away – if a film that's going to earn over $200 million domestically can truly be described as “limping." Anyhow, it should bring in another $9 million or so this frame.

It will take three weekends for The Hangover III to reach the $100 million milestone, something the second film had done in four days. To say that the public has voted on whether there should somehow be a fourth film in this series is an understatement, and the vote is that Ed Helms should find himself somewhere else to get humiliated. It's easy to get carried away and call this a bomb – it's going to make some money after all is said and done – but we're definitely seeing what happens when a franchise overstays its welcome. Give it $7 million this frame.