One of the most successful franchises in cinema attempts a return to glory in a weekend that's short on quantity, but long on hype and familiarity, as Hollywood attempts to turn its futures around. Originality hasn't been paying dividends of late, so maybe it's time to go back to the tried and true.
Weekend Forecast for June 12-14, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
June 12, 2015
A 14-years-later sequel to the most recent Jurassic Park film and 22 years after the original Spielberg film, Jurassic World is a return to the venerable dinosaurs-eating-people genre with dash of social/corporate satire. After the multiple disasters of the previous films, the park itself is finally up and running, or should I say has been for many years of incident-free operation. The prehistoric zoo/safari is facing flagging attendance, though, as audiences have tired of the same old thing. In response (meta-referential theme alert!), the company behind the park has invented a new, scarier, fiercer predator dinosaur to drive audiences. Indominus Rex, as it's dubbed by the park, turns out to be a pure beast of destruction, with camouflage skin and a thirst for murder. Before you can say “nothing can possiblai go wrong,” we've got an escaped apex predator amidst a park full of tasty tourists.
In steps our rugged hero, played by newly-minted Great Big Damn Action Hero Chris Pratt, here looking for all the world like Burt Macklin, Dinosaur Trainer. Able to communicate with and command a team of velociraptors – wait, no, where are you going – he attempts to rescue a group of stranded visitors and bring down the beast before it escapes the confines of cozy Isla Nublar. Playing his foil is Bryce Dallas Howard, the park's operations manager, who's interested only in ramping up the excitement of the park and played with icy efficiency (look at those bangs! Trimmed with a paper cutter!).
With a slicker sheen than Spielberg's original (confession time: that film's always left me a bit cold and the honest monster movie spectacle of III has always been my favorite of the series), Jurassic World isn't aiming for as much cultural significance, but rather just bigger thrills (I told you about that theme). Director Corey Trevorrow (I mean, who else would you pick for a $200 million film but the guy behind Safety Not Guaranteed?) for the most part lacks Spielberg's creative touch but in terms of providing a serviceable action film, he does seem to be up to the task.
The Jurassic Park franchise is almost synonymous with box office success. The 1993 original set the opening weekend record with a then princely sum of $50 million, a jump of about 10 percent over the existing mark. The Lost World extended that by about 45 percent in 1997, setting a mark that stood until the Harry Potter movies arrived on scene. Even the third film, coming along in an unfashionable time for monster movies, had enough goodwill to open to around $50 million. Now we have World, which has the proper time period, the proper cast (Pratt alone assures a big opening) and a just-ridiculous-enough-premise to make this the spectacle of June. Where the original Park had “You *will* see dinosaurs” as its draw and that was enough, World ditches some of the science and reverence to what appears to be “good enough” effect.
We've entered the realm of the mega-openings now, and Jurassic World has the good fortune to be opening in a period where people are actively seeking out comfort. The obvious comparison here seems to be the fourth Indiana Jones movie – if that actually existed – which would have opened to around $100 million if it did, which to be clear, it doesn't. Since that movie would have opened about seven years ago had they gotten around to making it, and it's a real shame they didn't, we can add on a bit more for inflation. I'd bring this up to around $110 million for its debut, and a clear winner for this month.
Our returning films are a big bag of not much, with Melissa McCarthy's Spy defying poor ads and riding strong reviews to a $29 million opening. This may actually show some legs since the perception-to-reality view of this film is so off, and I'd be willing to give it about $20 million this frame.
Earthquake-disaster film San Andreas fell the requisite 50 percent in its second weekend, while zipping over the $100 million total mid-week. It should bring in about $13 million this weekend on its way to around $150 million domestic.
Mis-numerably titled Insidious Chapter 3 opened to about $22 million last weekend, well off the pace of the previous entry in the series, albeit ahead of the first. This looks headed for about $9 million this weekend, on the way to $60 million in North America.
Lastly we have Entourage, the crowning champion in the contest to find the world's least essential movie. The HBO adaptation of its welcome-wearing-out series opened to $10 million, failing to make fetch happen. With its Wednesday opening day pointing to huge front-loading, I'd expect only $4 million this weekend for Vinny Chase and company.