You don't want to exclude the possibility of surprises, but the last sure thing of the summer hits theaters this first weekend of August. We are definitely on the downward slope of things, but this downward slope at least includes exploding cars and helicopters.
Weekend Forecast for August 2-4, 2019
By Reagen Sulewski
August 1, 2019
Someday, there will be an interesting book to be written about the Fast and Furious franchise. Not for its artistry, oh no no no. There's a large tome that can be created about the many twists and turns, additions, subtractions, returns, tragedies, ad hoc plots bolted on to satisfy decisions made a long time ago, and now, its first attempt at life beyond the final movies in the main series. The gap between what started out as a Point Break knockoff (street racers ripping off a semi-trailer for *combination DVD/TVs*) and what is now a James Bond/superhero franchise (Coming next: "The only way to save the world is by driving these supercars to the International Space Station....") is large enough to fit most of the steroids the cast members of these films take. Now, unrelated to that last comment, it's Hobbs and Shaw!
With the falling out of Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson on the last F&F movie, supposedly due to work ethic clashes, the decision was made to farm out Johnson into his own spinoff from his federal agent turned international avenger. The natural pairing - Jason Statham's character, who was the antagonist of a couple of the more recent films. And hey, let's name it after them, even though the biggest fantasy element here is that anyone connects with or remembers the names of any of the F&F characters as distinct from the actors that play them. Anyway, they're brought in (along with Statham's sister, played by Vanessa Shaw) to stop an MI6 agent (Idris Elba, leaning into the idea that he'll never be Bond) that's gone rogue after injecting himself with cyber-technology ... you see what I'm saying above, right? ... who is looking to release a super-virus into the world that will kill billions. "Levelling up" does not quite adequately describe the trip from the first film until now.
With a repartee that's mostly based on mutual disrespect, Johnson and Statham bounce around the film like a live-action cartoon, one of the more violent ones, crossed with a third-level improv class, with the occasional impossible car chase thrown in for seasoning. Add in a trip to the South Pacific for a battle between the improbably named villain Brixton Lore and Johnson and his whole freaking Polynesian family and you've got yourself a perfect nonsense action film for the late summer.
The big question now is whether these movies are themselves on a downslope. Fate of the Furious was a significant step downwards in terms of opening weekend at $98 million versus Furious 7's $147 million, though that can be explained away by that one being Paul Walker's posthumous film. It still was a monster overseas with a healthy $1.2 billion in receipts (!) and Hobbs & Shaw pulls out the two best international leads from the series. It also serves to fill in the lengthy gap between Furious 8 and Furious 9 (and 10!), and though it doesn't quite replace a proper F&F film, it's got a bonkers (in the best way) energy to it and features lots of the jet-setting, car crashing action fans of the series have come to expect. This should be enough to secure a $72 million opening weekend.
The Lion King remake fell steeply in its second weekend after its massive near-$200 million start. This still put it close to $400 million so far in its run and within spitting distance of the original's $421 million (after re-releases). Even if it does continue to falter, a number close to $500 million should be expected, with somewhere around $1.5 billion worldwide. This weekend should see it land with around $42 million.
Quentin Taratino's Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood, was a divisive film, and really what else could it be? but not for the reasons you'd expect. The liberties he took with the Charlie Manson episode in 1969 involving Sharon Tate, as well as his treatment of Bruce Lee were the main sticking points in a film that opened to $41 million, his strongest opening to date, although not by much. It's not a good candidate for long legs, but should be at least a $120 million film in the long run. I'd give it about $22 million this weekend.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is heading towards a $375 million domestic figure, and should bring in about $8 million this frame. Toy Story 4 crossed the $400 million plateau this weekend and should grab about $7 million.
In larger news, Avengers: Endgame clawed and scratched its way to $2.79 billion this week, through whatever tricks Disney had to pull out of its hat. It still stands second in each separate category, domestic and international, and just missed becoming the second film to earn $2 billion just from international markets. Perhaps now Disney can stop dribbling out extended scenes.