June 2009 Forecast
By David Mumpower
June 5, 2009
7) Imagine That
Eddie Murphy is back in silly family fun mode, which isn't all bad. Certainly, from a box office perspective, North America has loudly spoken on the subject. Even if we ignore his work as a talking donkey, he's had $100 million films in this vein with Daddy Day Care, Doctor Doolittle and The Nutty Professor. Even the disappointing Disney release, The Haunted Mansion, earned $75 million domestically. I feel the bloom is off the rose a bit with his temperamental movie career, but I still believe that a cute concept can lead to a $50 million domestic run.
8) My Sister's Keeper
In 2004, rising author Jodi Picoult wrote a hauntingly deceptive novel about a girl whose entire purpose in life was to save her sister's life. After Kate is diagnosed with leukemia, her parents bear another child in order to use its cord blood (don't ask if you don't know) to save the two-year-old. This child, Anna, becomes tethered to her older sister, whose health is imperiled into their teen years. At the age of 13, Anna sues for legal emancipation from her parents in order to make her own medical decisions about her body. Drama doesn't come any more melancholy than this. Ordinarily, I would dismiss a title like this out of hand; however, June is a lousy month for major releases. Also, My Sister's Keeper stars Cameron Diaz, one of the strongest female box office draws working today. In the 2000s, she hasn't made a movie yet that earned less than $24 million domestically. Even with the depressing subject matter, her name on the title and Little Miss Sunshine as her co-star may be enough to trick some customers into seeing a very sad story.
9) My Life in Ruins
Nia Vardalos isn't dead. Fans of My Boys know this – and if you aren't a fan of My Boys, you are breaking my heart – but it remains to be seen if the people who made My Big Fat Greek Wedding a blockbuster are aware of it. While her breakout film earned $241.4 million, her follow-up release, Connie & Carla, managed a whopping $8.0 million total. Normally, I would say the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle about her box office appeal, but let's be honest here. Connie & Carla is the much more accurate gauge. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the most surprising fluke in the industry's history and cannot be duplicated. The fans of that film did not translate into specific fans of Vardalos for whatever reason, making all of her future work just a trivia sidenote for it.
10) Away We Go
John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are traveling gypsies or hippies or some such rolling stones. This is an indie film directed by Sam Mendes from Focus Features that has particularly modest box office expectations. Having seen the trailer, I must admit I was ready to dismiss it out of hand as not my type of film right up until I found out that husband/wife writing team Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida wrote the script. That flips the situation from ignore to MUST WATCH for me. In a month with only nine wide releases, however, the table is set for a title just like this to become a moderate box office surprise.