Although Memorial Day has lost a bit of its cachet over the years as the big weekend for summer movie launches, it's still one of the prime weekends to launch a major franchise film. That continues this weekend as we have yet another entry into this year of second-, or maybe first-and-a-half-tier comic book movies.
Weekend Forecast for May 23-25, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
May 23, 2014
The X-Men franchises walk back to respectability likely finished this weekend with this blending of the original trilogy of films with the First Class “pre-boot” in Days of Future Past, probably the most well-known of its storylines. A time-traveling story that swings all the way from the 1960s through to an uncertain future, where mutants are hunted by giant laser-wielding robots - “Wait, wait,” I hear you say, “I'm sold already, stop!”
This is The Avengers project of the X-Men, folding a large number of stories into one omnibus tale, and using almost all of the actors they could to play all the previous mutants, including both Magnetos and Professor X-es (though notably, just the one Kitty Pride and Mystique) and add in Peter Dinklage as the film's main antagonist, in a bold move that plays well against the actor's height. File it all under Heroic Feats of Casting. Director Bryan Singer also returns after sitting out the last few films, although I don't think his name will add as much to the box office as much as him not being Brett effing Ratner will. Indeed, reviews are the strongest since the second X-Men film, with the complicated plot and return to a humorous and fun approach to the mutants being a welcome development. Look, if we're going to have an apocalypse, there's no reason it has to be dreary, you know?
The X-Men franchise has suffered since the simultaneous (box-office) high and (quality) low of The Last Stand, with First Class and the latest Wolverine movie both opening to the mid-50s. Clearly the hope here is to follow the Batman, or at very least, the Spider-Man, model with a re-established franchise taking one movie to setup the slam dunk of the next. Of course, the recent Godzilla movie has shown that that intermediary step might not be necessary if your movie is actually handled and advertised well, but since this film has done both, the effect will be hard to separate. However, with all the key factors pointing in positive directions, it looks like we could be headed for an opening weekend of $90 million over three days, and $108 million over four days.
Adam Sandler's long, slow decline continues with Blended, his third film with Drew Barrymore. The pair play a couple of single parents who are set up on a blind date that goes horribly, only to wind up at the same African family resort. So we're just ripping off the Brady Bunch for plots now? Apparently, as Sandler has as much as admitted he's really just into making films where he gets a paid vacation out of it now.
So the good: at least this looks better than the similar Just Go With It, which combined brain dead plotting with lazy, lazy comedy. Blended is simply lazy. The bad news for Sandler is that his spell has mostly been broken, and he may only be able to have hits with Grown Ups sequels. That's My Boy, for example, was an unmitigated disaster, and one of his few comedy films to not make back its budget even when counting worldwide grosses. Reviews are predictably terrible, but that's not the troubling part – more worrying is that he seems to be completely outgrowing/alienating his core audience. While I don't think anyone's really clamoring for a return to Billy Madison days, this utterly boring-looking offering is definitely not the right direction. I'm reminded of Steve Martin's turn to Frank Capra-style comedy, which didn't work for anyone. Look for about $14 million over three days, or $17 million over four days.
Godzilla was the big surprise of last weekend, blowing past estimations to earn $93 million. With a big start, it's destined for a large fall, even with the stronger-than-expected reviews and word-of-mouth. That will be tempered somewhat by the long weekend, but that only goes so far. Give it $48 million over three days.
The previous week's surprise hit Neighbors seems to be proof that legs aren't going to be the story of the summer, as it fell over 50% in its second weekend to $25 million. Of course, it's already quintupled its budget, so there's no reason to worry about this film at all, but the first candidate for a Hangover-type run has already bowed out of the competition. Give it $14 million over the weekend.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would suffer this weekend if competition were a real thing, but it's not, and it's especially not over Memorial Day Weekend. That in mind, it's also been falling pretty steeply on its own merits, and should see just $9 million in its fourth weekend. That's about a third what the original Spider-Man movie earned in its comparable weekend, 12 years ago.
The Million Dollar Arm will be a bit of an also ran in the summer story of 2014, but the $25 million budget makes it kind of a smart play for Disney, even despite the $10 million opening. I wouldn't be shocked to see this perform well in a couple of international territories, which may be the ultimate play here for Disney. For now, give it about $7 million this weekend.