In one of the stranger developments of 2016, a fairly bog-standard remake (with a slight twist) has become a flashpoint for the culture, and something akin to a referendum on whether or not you are a good person. Congratulations, internet, you've now ruined everything, including the act of ruining things.
Weekend Forecast for July 15-17, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
July 15, 2016
For future generations who have survived the Gender Wars of 2016, let this document serve as a record of The World That Once Was. In whatever smoking crater you now reside in and on whatever scroll you are reading this on, know this: at one point the idea of an all-female Ghostbusters remake was considered innocuous, if possibly just a bit superfluous. Little did we know then that it would unleash the greatest controversy in movie history and annihilating society as we know it in a fit of backbiting and weapons-grade trollery. We apologize to you, the inheritors of this world, and bid you heed our mistakes, never again mistaking a piece of light entertainment for less than the world shaking issue that it is.
But more seriously, the female-led Ghostbuster remake/reboot/rewhateverthehellyouwannacallit arrives this weekend buried neck deep in politics, thanks to a strange outrage campaign that Ghostbusters could possibly be remade with women in the lead roles (and just a bunch of SNL people too! Imagine!). When it was pointed out that the outrage reeked more than a little of misogyny, there was an attempt to make it a fight back against remake and reboot culture – which has some point to it, but is also a curious and convenient place to make your stand. I can think of a lot of worse reasons to remake a movie than because you want it gender-bent (take the reasons behind all of the FF movies, anyone?). And besides, let's not get all high and mighty about a franchise that includes Ghostbusters II, shall we?
But stop me if you've heard this one: director Paul Feig teams up again with his muse Melissa McCarthy (playing Bill Murray-ish), Kristen Wiig (Ramis), Kate McKinnon (Akroyd) and Leslie Jones (Ernie Hudson) as a team of paranormal exterminators facing an infestation of ghouls and ghosts in New York City, with wacky and gross results ensuing, thanks to the help of their oddly attractive secretary, Chris Hemsworth (Annie Potts?). Now, this does all sound rather similar to the 1984 version, with a bit less swagger and a bit more awkwardness, but it would not be the first semi-pointless remake/reboot/sequel even this year.
None of the criticism of the idea of a new Ghostbusters would have any legs at all were it not for a rather subpar initial trailer (though – watch the international trailer, it's miles better. Go ahead. I'll wait). Feig/McCarthy films have rarely trailered well though – Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy all had initial impressions that were basically “meh,” but all turned out to be rather spectacular comedies, action- or otherwise. And lo and behold, later ads have been better, with mostly positive reviews rolling in. And while McCarthy and Wiig are fairly established presences on screen, this movie might be McKinnon's to steal, and what announces her as a major comic force to be reckoned with.
Still, it's hard to get away from all the extra bits outside of the movie, including the brigading that is clearly happening. Ultimately, that's going to fade away with time, and the positive reviews seem to have taken a bit of sting out of that. Moving on the upswing towards its opening weekend, I'd look for a start of about $55 million.
Opening in significantly less prominent circumstances is The Infiltrator, a true-ish story about a U.S. Customs official sent undercover in Pablo Escobar's money laundering scheme. Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo star as the agents who spent years undercover leading double lives in order to catch one of the world's largest banks moving money for one of the world's most notorious drug kingpins. A thriller not all that different in type, if not quality or scope to American Hustle, it's a bit of an orphan of a film, with just a little over a national release and few if any ads. Its reviews are middling at best, and this is the kind of film that really needs a lot of “POTENTIAL OSCAR WINNER!!!” buzz to get any traction. This is really only about a $5 million earner.
After a stunning opening weekend of $104 million, The Secret Life of Pets looks to be in solid position to keep top spot. Great word-of-mouth and solid reviews, plus the family film element, should keep it earning at about $65 million.
Another animated movie is next among our returning films, with Finding Dory on pace to surpass Shrek 2 as the highest grossing animated film of all time, with around $13 million this weekend after Pets cut a bit into its box office take last weekend. It won't break into the all time top 10 just yet, but that's an inevitability, as it should move as high as seventh spot to beat out The Phantom Menace.
Following that, we have The Legend of Tarzan, perhaps the most “just there” movie of this year so far, which should drop to about $12 million. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates needs came up with a solid opening weekend of $16 million for a film its size, and looks set for about $8 million this frame. Finally, we have The Purge: Election Year, careening wildly out of relevance to just $5 million this weekend.