The busy but lackluster July 4th weekend gives way to a quieter weekend at the box office, but with a much better chance at giving us a hit, thanks to the whole, you know, quality thing. Anybody paying attention?
Weekend Forecast for July 11-13, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
July 11, 2014
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the only new wide release this weekend, getting the massive release treatment with nearly 4,000 venues. A sequel to 2011's way-better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it picks up a few years after where the last left off, with a now rag-tag band of survivors of the plague – generated from a genetically engineered virus – that simultaneously fried humans brains and made apes super-smart. When will scientists learn to stop curing diseases?
For the time being, we have our really smart chimp colony, living out in the Northern California woods and still led by Caesar (mo-capped by Andy Serkis, and can we get this guy an Oscar nomination already), under the impression that all the humans have left. A surviving group of humans accidentally makes contact, and although initial meetings are peaceful and productive, humans aren't really about to give up our cushy spot on the top of the animal kingdom without a fight. So a fight it will be, complete with chimps on horseback in a cavalry charge using automatic rifles. Here, take my money.
The human cast is led by Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell, which is a respectable group if not exactly cause for ticket buying. Oldman in particular (or at least before his recent unfortunateness) lends some credibility to the proceedings, in the same way that Robert Duvall lifted up all those Jerry Bruckheimer films, but it's really not about them at all. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the first Apes film in this go about it was how riveting it was for so long when there were no humans at all on screen. Where that film was something of a Spartacus tale, Dawn seems to be aiming at no less than 2001 as its inspiration, trying to find the very meaning of existence as a species. If that seems pretty high-minded for an Apes film, well, why have we stopped asking for intelligent blockbusters? Do you want everything to be a Transformers film? Wait, don't answer that.
While the quality of the first Apes film took most of us by surprise, it's not as if it flew under the radar, opening to $55 million. Three years later, the film has won over a lot of converts, and the promise of an even more action-oriented sequel could push this to even greater heights. And if it doesn't, you have only yourselves to blame for Transformers vs Twilight 2: Lowest Common Denominator. With ecstatic reviews, great trailers and a ton of ad support, this should be able to get to around $70 million this weekend.
Even if competition were a legitimate worry, last week's returning films wouldn't be offering much in the way of that. Transformers: Age of Extinction fell a startlingly large amount even in winning the weekend. Taking in just $37 million the week after opening to just a few thousand over the $100 million mark (*cough cough*), it could easily be the first film in the series to earn less than $300 million domestically. Of course, that sound you hear is Michael Bay blowing up piles of Chinese renminbi, so... yeah. Still, image matters, especially stateside, and the $16 million it earns this weekend can officially be called “paltry” in the franchise's terms.
This weekend, Melissa McCarthy will be celebrating her Emmy nomination, which is good because la la la can't hear you when you talk about box office returns. Tammy, her film about a woman rediscovering her life after some traumatic life events, opened to $21 million but received terrible reviews and just a C+ Cinemascore (almost impossible to get – nothing else in theaters has less than a B- right now). And when comedies don't work for audiences... Look for this to earn only around $9 million this weekend.
A couple of sequels that have done okay, but not as well as might have been hoped, are next, with 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2 each coming in at around $6 million for the weekend. Both are sub $200 million earners, which is not something I would have predicted at the start of the summer.
Deliver Us From Evil was a mediocre earner even for low budget horror, with under $10 million. Although it'll still end up okay in the long run thanks to that budget, it's never great for your wide release film to end up under $25 million domestic. I am also looking at you, Earth to Echo, and maybe changing that target to $20 million. What I am saying is that last week's releases were bad and should feel bad.