It almost feels like '80s Weekend at the multiplex this weekend, as we get a buddy cop movie and a high-concept buddy action film filled to the brim with explosions. So this week is technically all originals, but, you know, original...ish.
Weekend Forecast for June 28-30, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
June 28, 2013
In the case of one of them, it's also not even original in the sense of being the only film with that plot this year. The reductively titled White House Down follows Olympus Has Fallen to the big screen as films about hostile takeovers of the White House. With a $30 million opening, Olympus proved there's at least a base level of interest in the concept for audiences, as ridiculous as it is. Whether it's the Deep Impact or the Armageddon remains to be seen, but one thing Roland Emmerich's take on the material absolutely does is up the ante on destruction. Whereas Olympus was content to simply blow up part of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, White House Down goes more towards blowing up most of Washington, D.C., or at least the big historic parts. After 2012, it's good to see him reining himself in.
Another big shift in the action: while Olympus' prez was something of a bystander to the action, WHD (as all the cool kids call it) has their president actively involved in the proceedings, albeit reluctantly. Jamie Foxx plays a pacifist president who teams up with Secret Service washout Channing Tatum after a terrorist attack levels most of the National Mall. From there, they Lethal Weapon it up, at one point handing a rocket launcher over to Foxx's character to shoot at bad guys. This has a certain amount of “Can you believe we're doing this??” appeal to it, but could seriously not be more ridiculous if you stop and think about it for even a second (Sony Pictures Entertainment would deeply wish that you not think about it).
The overall casting is much stronger here, if only because of the solid duo versus Olympus's Gerard Butler, who was asked to carry the film on his own, Die-Hard-style (in fact, this seems to be the central difference between the two films, in terms of which iconic '80s action film they crib from). Tatum has used his “hurrr durrr” energy to decent effect in recent films, including 21 Jump Street, with which this film seems to share a slight amount of comic energy. But with six $100 million-plus films that we can give him some credit for, Tatum has to be taken seriously as a lead at this point. Foxx is riding a bit of a hot streak as well, although he has worked a lot in cameos and small appearances lately, and as such is a bit harder to judge. Django Unchained was an unmitigated success, of course, but there's also the Tarantino factor there.
Curiously, the film is mostly being sold on the interactions between the two, and not the explosions, to the point where there's been an entire series of ads with no movie footage and is just the two of them playing basketball. This is either extreme confidence or extreme weakness, and maybe both at the same time. It's not a completely crazy notion, given the buddy action comedy vibe, but it's also a gigantic risk. Thankfully, the footage we have seen looks competent (if, again, ridiculous) in the action department, and all these factors together should lead to around a $40 million opening weekend.
The Heat feels like a film that could have at one point starred Jim Belushi and Tom Hanks, and that it stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy is a kind of progress, right? We've come a long way from 1988's Feds (with Rebecca DeMornay and Mary Gross!), where the hook was the idea that women could be FBI agents, and now it's just women doing the same stupid things as men in cop movies.
Bullock here plays the straight-laced FBI agent assigned to work with McCarthy's slob, after both of them have proven incapable of working with any other agent in the department. These two then go after a Boston drug lord because why not, and female-themed hijinks ensue. The director here is Paul Feig, notable in that he was responsible for Bridesmaids, which launched McCarthy into medium-stardom, and which inspired the latest round of “can women really be funny?” articles, and of course they can, lazy article writers. But I digress.
Bullock and McCarthy seem to have an easy chemistry, and are both playing to their strengths, as the ice queen and brash tomboy respectively. And while the film itself looks entirely formulaic, the execution appears to be about as good as it can be. This kind of film is almost never going to be a true classic (you have to go to things like 48 HRS, and even then we're stretching) but with the right amount of respect and intelligence can be a tolerable experience. High praise indeed! McCarthy most recently mined this comedic territory with Identity Thief, which surprised many with a $34 million opening. Bullock hasn't worked a lot in the last few years, but has The Proposal (and if we go way back, Miss Congeniality) to draw on for her comedic marquee chops. Adding these two together doesn't make for world-beating box office, I don't think, but it's been put together well enough for around $37 million.
This should leave things open for Monsters University to keep top spot after its $82 million opening weekend. Even Pixar isn't immune to big second weekend drop-offs anymore, and with the general weakness that this film is perceived with its catalog, University should wind up with around $43 million this weekend.
World War Z, on the other hand, is in prime location for a huge fall off. Technically a horror movie, the presence of Brad Pitt won't prevent it from taking on both blockbuster dropoffs and horror dropoffs. This is not to even mention that no one seems to think it's all that great. While its $66 million opening was a welcome surprise, that should fall to around $29 million this weekend.
Man of Steel bent like taffy last weekend after its phenomenal $116 million start, dropping to $41 million. I don't expect it to only keep one-third of its business this weekend, but that's not a real strong place for a film to be starting from. We could be looking at the rare $100 million opener to fall short of $300 million domestically. It should find $19 million this frame.
Wrapping up our significant films is This Is The End, which after a hot start has faded, and seems to be headed for a $100 million final total. Which, I might add, is just about pure profit for Sony, so I should quite frankly shut up here. Give it $8 million more over the next three days.