After a brief flirtation with originality, Hollywood returns to the franchise as a leading strategy for bringing in box office this weekend. Look, you can't expect them to come up with a new idea *every* single week to win the box office, can you?
Weekend Forecast for June 26-28, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
June 26, 2015
A three-years-later follow up to the surprise hit Ted, Ted 2 brings Seth MacFarlane's reference-heavy (I mean, last time they shot-for-shot did a scene from Airplane!) profane teddy bear comedy back for another round, this time grappling with the ethical and legal issues surrounding bringing a stuffed animal to life by a wish. I mean, what other logical place is there to go with it?
Okay, I jest, but it is sort of a fun notion to hang a sequel on where the real goal is just to provide a framework for more sophomoric sex and drug humor, along with assorted inspired weirdness. In this case, it's Ted (voice of MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn's desire to have a baby that spurs the action, as Ted has been declared property and not fit to have a child. That's a weird argument to make given all the other more legitimate and everyday reasons to say he's not fit to have a child, but that's the way the film is crumbling its cookies.
Bring on rookie lawyer Samantha L. Jackson (oh ho ho, I get jokes), played by Amanda Seyfried, to argue his case, since Mila Kunis noped the heck out of here as the female lead. One of the film's tactics is to prove Ted's worth to society by having him perform good deeds – which of course go hilariously wrong. A crude film that actually may have some – puerile and probably facile – things to say about civil rights, it's also aiming at recapturing some of the manic, ridiculous, rapid-fire comedic energy of the first film, which got it a $54 million opening and over $200 million domestic.
MacFarlane's one effort in the meantime between these two films didn't quite keep that momentum going, as last summer's A Million Ways to Die in the West only managed $42 million total despite having its defenders. Ted 2 should be much closer to the opening of the first film than Million Ways, but there's legitimate reason to suspect it won't open as strongly. With comedy, you absolutely can fall victim to Same Same disease, something that eventually afflicted the Hangover franchise. Its second film did increase its opening weekend sharply, but the bloom fell quickly off that rose, and audiences may be a bit wary of R-rated comedy sequels after that artistic disaster. Mark Wahlberg in full self-deprecation mode might keep this from that fate, but there are of course no guarantees. Reviews peg this squarely as an “enh,” and as such I'd expect this to come close, but not match the first Ted film with $48 million this weekend.
Running far behind this is Max, a full-on dose of sentimentality mixed with a strange amount of violence for a film ostensibly aimed at pre-teens. The titular character is a military dog who is sent back home to the family of his handler, who perished in Afghanistan. Suffering from PTSD, he bonds with the brother of his handler and basically becomes super-dog for him, while also being a constant painful reminder of loss. At the same time, one of the brother's ex-squad mates is up to no good back home, and it somehow falls to the boy and his dog to expose these misdeeds. It's... all over the place thematically.
While the hokiness of the story presents a problem, more troublesome is the demographic of the film, which alienates about 80 percent of the population, at minimum. Pre-teen films are the hardest of all to sell, as there is close to zero crossover audience, even if, like in this case, there are recognizable names like Lauren Graham or Thomas Haden Church to fall back on. Great reviews could possibly help it – if they existed in any real way. I'd look for this to have a modest opening of $8 million.
First place this weekend probably belongs to last week's runner-up, as Inside Out has a much easier path to a leggy performance than the two-weekend champ, Jurassic World. After setting the record for highest opening for a non-franchise, non-adapted film (less than half the record for all the other types of films) at $90 million, it's now up to it to claim the best second weekend for such a film, which, okay, isn't going to happen because Avatar. But still, Pixar films hold well, with the obvious exceptions of some of its more ill-considered sequels (Cars 2 Never Forget). With ecstatic reviews and phenomenal word-of-mouth, some measure of legs seems likely – with the only issue being that it's difficult for films that open this large to count on building audiences. But – most schools will be out now, so it's somewhat possible, and I'd look for about $57 million here this weekend.
Speaking of, Jurassic World managing to hang on to slightly more than half its opening weekend is almost miraculous under the circumstances, and has already put it over the $400 million hump. Its spectacular rise puts it ninth all-time on the domestic chart, with fifth place – ahead of all the Star Wars movies – all but assured after this weekend. Avatar is probably not sweating just yet, but Titanic should probably start prepping for a demotion. Look for about $54 million this frame.
Both Spy and San Andreas seemed to really benefit from spillover effect, dropping by 28 and 19 percent respectively, which doesn't fit with any patterns whatsoever. It wouldn't take much spillover at all to produce that kind of effect, but with our top films not in mega-weekend territory anymore, that should disappear. Look for $6 million for Melissa McCarthy's comedy and about $4 million for the earthquake disaster film.