Surely the sequel doldrums that have been ravaging this summer's releases won't apply to the one sure thing that's kept theaters in business for the last ten years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe? And not on July 4th weekend?! Cause if so, then...
Weekend Forecast for July 5-7, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
July 3, 2019
Spider-Man Homecoming was the result of a grand bargain -- Disney needed Spidey in order to properly complete the Thanos storyline, and Sony needed its Spider-Man movies to not suck. A little character swap was arranged, and each studio got shared custody of a couple of key characters and even more importantly, Kevin Feige came along for the ride to make sure everything stayed nice and canonical. A lower-stakes Spider-Man was the answer, and the new guy to put on the blue and red suit, Tom Holland, proved to be a pretty perfect fit. We were also spared the tediousness of yet another origin story (we get it, great power, Uncle Ben, etc, etc. Unlike a *certain* DC detective that thinks we haven't figured out what caused him to turn to a life of vigilantism yet...).
Spider-Man: Far From Home marks an important stage in the MCU - it's the first post-Thanos film, and the first to see characters wrestle with the new world order and the un-Snappening. With Tony Stark and Steve Rogers gone, it's up to the next round of characters to protect against threats to Earth. But first, vacation. Peter Parker and his classmates wind up in Europe with plans to leave superheroing behind. That is, until a series of elemental monsters attack sites around Europe and Nick Fury press-gangs Spider-Man into action alongside a newly appeared hero(?) that uses magic to fight his foes. Quentin Beck, otherwise known as Mysterio, claims to be from an alternate dimension, possibly brought into existence from all the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff that happened in Endgame. Played by Jake Gyllenhaal, he's an uncertain ally and a rather obvious red herring for most experienced Spider-Man fans.
Veering more into the teen comedy angle than the super serious superhero realm, it's a bit of a rbeather from the heaviness of Endgame, but with a popular enough character that it's not going to fall off into the Ant-Man tier of films, it's poised to end Phase 3 of the MCU and launch the new direction of the future films. With that in mind, it's kind of a must-hit for Marvel and in some ways is more important for Disney than Sony (though that's a studio that's hurting for any kind of hit after the bruising of Men in Black 4). Reviews are solid as per typical with Marvel's stuff but the level of anticipation is markedly down compared to the main-run Avengers films. Working in its favor is July 4th falling on a Thursday, perhaps the best possible orientation for the holiday for films - new films will almost a second opening weekend out of this.
Spider-Man Homecoming opened to $117 million two years ago, and sequel curse or no sequel curse, it's difficult to see it throwing under that ... but for that extended weekend. While it does add business, it does come at a small cost of spreading things out. I'd be on the lookout for around a $100 million opening weekend, but with another $75 million coming in the two days beforehand.
The other new film out this weekend is horror film Midsommar, the second one of the weekend to throw more comedy into its genre than strictly found elsewhere. The followup for Hereditary director Ari Aster, it follows a group of friends that travel to rural Sweden for a mid-summer festival that quickly takes a turn for the occult. Before you can say "The Wicker Man", the locals and their strange Swedish ways have connived to trap them there for what may be some nefarious and deadly purposes, especially when the talk of rituals that only take place once a century come up.
Hereditary was another film that dealt with slowly building dread and people being guided to purposes beyond their control and imagining, so it appears that Aster's got a bit of a theme going. Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Harper and a host of unknown Swedish actors, it's a buzzy film that's garnered a lot of strong reviews. An effective trailer and a thirst for original content could bump this up this weekend, with around $10 million, and another $6 over the first two days.
Toy Story 4 was chopped in half for its second weekend, and now stands at around $250 million. There's a significant risk that it throws under the nine year old Toy Story 3 in final domestic box office, and the $1 billion international seems a difficult mark to match as well. It's wrong to call this a misstep in terms of making the film, but it certainly has shown that sequel good will only goes so far. I'd expect around $36 million this weekend.
Annabelle Comes Home is in a similar boat after its $20 million start. With an approximately $30 million budget, there's little chance of this losing money, but viewed in context of the Conjuring franchise, it's a weakening of the brand. Horror runs on momentum, and as soon as a franchise starts to shed viewers, it almost never gets them back. This should run to about $8 million this weekend, as horror rarely holds, particularly when it's thrown under expectations.
Beatles tribute Yesterday had a solid $17 million but seems unlikely to show a ton of legs - word of mouth was only middling and there's no critical wave to support it for a long run. I'd look for around $9 million here.
Disney's remake of Aladdin continues to churn along and is a strong candidate to keep those legs up for the long weekend. It's crossed the $300 million mark, defying a lot of expectations, and should see around $8 million this time around. Secret Life of Pets 2 continues to be a little feisty itself, although it's playing at a much lower level. It should see around $5 million here.