August 2008 Forecast

By Shane Jenkins

August 2, 2008

This man is black not.

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August sucks, right? I think we're all on the same page here. It's the hottest month of the year. There are no major holidays to offer a break. And the movies are usually would-be summer blockbusters that don't have what it takes to compete with the big boys. That's still pretty much the case this August, but there is a staggering amount of product about to be unleashed into theaters – over 20 wide releases by my count. That's 40 hours – an entire workweek – that you can spend in glorious air conditioning, watching epic entertainment like... Disaster Movie... Okay, I never said it was a perfect plan. Anyway, here's my prediction for August's seven biggest box office contenders. Sadly, Midnight Meat Train didn't make the cut, so you'll have to make up the jokes for that one yourself.

1) Tropic Thunder

Generally, satires of the movie industry fall flat at the box office; they usually seem too inside baseball to appeal to the general public. I think director/star Ben Stiller might have cracked the code here, though, albeit by basically ripping off the plot of '80s fave The Three Amigos. Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. play actors filming the most expensive war movie ever made. Steve Coogan, as the director of the movie-within-the-movie, becomes exasperated by the actors' diva trips, and leaves them in the jungle, where a real war is going on. The actors are unaware of this, and believe they are still filming the movie (making this also a little similar to the plot of Disney's upcoming Bolt). Downey is white-hot after Iron Man, and Stiller and Black are dependable when the material suits them, as this appears to. There has been an insane amount of marketing, particularly of the viral variety for Tropic Thunder, and the trailer has plenty of solid laughs. I expect this will narrowly edge out Mummy 3.


2) The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Well, that just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Picking up 12 years after the action of The Mummy Returns, this installment finds Brendan Fraser teaming up with his 18-year-old son to do battle with the titular mummy, who has been under a 2,000-year-old curse. The setting has shifted to China, which means that Michelle Yeoh is in this, as she is contractually obligated to appear in every Asian-set Hollywood movie. Also along for the (inevitable Universal Studios) ride is Jet Li as the Dragon Emperor. Rachel Weisz is conspicuously absent (with reports suggesting that she did not feel she was old enough to be playing the mother of an 18 year-old), replaced by Thank You for Smoking's Maria Bello. Director Rob Cohen is notoriously hit and miss (Steath, Dragonheart, Fast and the Furious), and the whole project feels, well, inessential. Still, it's the last big summer effects movie, and audiences might want to go on one more cinematic rollercoaster before heading to the mall to shop for back to school clothes.

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