After last weekend, we are now through the period of expected mega hits for summer, and are settling down into our usual August doldrums, albeit with a bit of a soft landing. That the big hits are ending would be an easier sell if this summer's hits had actually, you know, hit.
Weekend Forecast for August 12-14, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
August 12, 2016
Disney leads off the way of new films with a remake of Pete's Dragon, one of their hybrid live action/animation films from the 1970s (though between this and The Jungle Book, it's a fine line to draw that this isn't the same thing). The story is updated slightly to be something of a pint-sized Tarzan/Jungle Book crossbreed, with young Pete having survived for seven years in the wild thanks to the help of Elliot, a real, actual dragon that's been living in the Pacific Northwest (really New Zealand, but...). He's very sneaky.
Found by Park Ranger Bryce Dallas Howard, he's brought back into civilization, but this puts the secretive Elliot in danger thanks to local logging interests. The presence of a freaking *dragon* habitat in prime timber land does present some environmental issues that people would like to cover up, you see. Amidst the lush scenery, there's an epic adventure story in there, akin to The Iron Giant and its sort of throw-back aesthetic.
Also starring Robert Redford, Wes Bentley and Karl Urban, it's somewhat light on star power, but the Disney brand more than makes up for that. As well, considering its audience is aimed quite young – the pre-teen set and families – that's not as significant a factor as for other films. The production values reign supreme here, and the ads do an excellent job of selling a sense of wonder and discovery. Great reviews prop this up some more, and while the name recognition isn't quite there for this remake, it should earn a solid late summer weekend of about $31 million.
In some ways, this film and Sausage Party are very different. An R-rated animated film from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, it's 2016's movie most likely to have been thought up while being higher than Willie Nelson. The basic premise is “Toy Story, but with food and then everything swears and makes sex jokes”. The pitch, in short – food is self-aware and thinks being bought is some eternal reward, only to find out that humans *eat* them. This impending violent death leads them to fight back in all sorts of gross and inappropriate ways.
Indeed, the vibe seems a bit similar to the South Park movie, with the goal to be as inappropriate as possible, and a lot of high profile names have come out to take their shots at the material. In addition to Rogen, playing a hot dog, there's Kristen Wiig as a hot dog bun (ISWYDT), James Franco, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Danny McBride, Ed Norton, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz and Michael Cera. In contrast to Pete's Dragon, these names are likely to matter to the film's target audience, and a Superbad or Pineapple Express level of animated comedy certainly has a demographic to chase after, albeit not a huge one.
Initial ads actually looked horrific, but that apparently does not tell the story of the film, as reviews are very positive. So taken in context, all of those “WTF?” jokes probably work well. This may be enough to convince a few of the curious to discard some early poor opinions of the film. It's a bit of an experiment, though, and any kind of solid weekend should be viewed as a positive. I'll peg this one at about $26 million for the weekend.
We start to sneak into prestige picture territory with the release of Florence Foster Jenkins. Meryl Streep stars as the title character, a New York heiress with aims of being an opera singer despite the slight problem of not being able to sing (rich people, am I right?). Even without being able to carry a tune in a bucket, she inexplicably became popular in the interwar years, possibly as a bit of a joke, possibly because entertainment options were limited back then. Nonetheless, it's a story about how even a lack of talent (which to be totally fair, may have been caused in part by health issues, including syphilis contracted from a philandering husband) doesn't have to hold a person back. Also starring Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg and Rebecca Ferguson, the presence of Streep pretty much automatically throws into Oscar consideration, although that doesn't always correlate to box office. When headlining films, Streep is often in smaller scale mode, and this looks no different. I'd expect about $6 million this weekend.
Everything's running behind Suicide Squad, though, even with its bad word-of-mouth, thanks to a $133 million opening weekend. Nothing's touching that for a couple of weeks at a minimum, even as I expect it to shed as much as two-thirds of that figure this weekend. DC and Warner Bros have some soul searching to do, as they do finally seem capable of producing non-Batman opening weekends, but can't get any follow through. Give it $50 million for weekend two.
Jason Bourne crashed by almost two-thirds in its second weekend, earning just $22 million after a near $60 million start. It shouldn't drop quite that much this weekend, but around $10 million for the belatedly-produced spy flick is in the cards.
Following behind that are raunchy female comedy Bad Moms, animated hit The Secret Life of Pets and Star Trek Beyond, which should nab $8, 7 and 5 million respectively.