July 2009 Forecast

By Jason Lee

July 3, 2009

A somber moment ensues as Harry and Hermione realize they're dating gingers.

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July is upon us and in the midst of all these fireworks and burgers and beach vacations, there are actually some really great films coming to theaters this month. They'll try to vie for your attention and pocketbook, even as they compete with summer festivities and a rather silly robot movie that's casting a dauntingly large shadow over the box office lately. Will any of them break out? It's anyone's guess.

And this little column is my guess. My best guess. Which may turn out to be a set of very wrong guesses. But only time will tell.

1) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Clearly, there are two films this month that will be huge. Not "we think they'll be huge," but "we know they'll be huge." The sixth installment of the Harry Potter series is one of those films and there is little doubt in my mind that we're looking at a $200+ million final gross here. The question is whether or not this film will be able to match the previous two films in the series, which both topped $290 million. Goblet of Fire is widely seen as one of the best books in the series and Order of the Phoenix benefited from Potter-mania due to the coinciding release of the seventh and final book. Though the film itself looks great, I think this movie will come closer to the final total of Prisoner of Azkaban when the receipts are totaled up.

Estimated Total: $250 million

2) Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

And here's the other film. Inexplicable to me, the two other Ice Age films have finished north of $175 million, with the last one just coming under $200 million. Will this third installment match the previous two releases? Again, my guess is no. The box-office legs for this film will not be nearly as long as Ice Age 1 and 2, which both benefited from a spring release. With Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen storming theatres and a number of key kid-friendly movies in the coming weeks, I think this movie will do solid business, but not at the level of its predecessors.

Estimated Total: $160 million

3) Funny People

I'm going out on a limb here with Funny People, picking it as my #3 film of July. Comedy is clearly on a roll, with Paul Blart taking January by surprise and The Hangover nearly at $200 million already. Funny People combines the star power of Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow . . . but while these factors alone would be formidable at the box office, the combination (just based on the trailer) looks like they've combined to form something really special. Gone are the wild, comedic antics that have scarred past Sandler films. This movie looks like it has a lot of heart. And in a comedy, that type of thing can be transcendent.

Estimated Total: $110 million


4) Bruno
Need I even introduce this film? From the man who brought Borat to theatres and his buttocks to Eminem's face comes Bruno. Anyone who saw Borat and has glimpsed this trailer surely knows what they're getting into: wild hijinks in which Bruno's flamboyant personality brings him into conflict with celebrities and regular ole folks alike. Sort of a real-life mockumentary, I have little doubt that 18-29 males will come out and see this, but I just don't think this has as wide appeal as Borat did. Call me un-politically correct, but there's something funnier about a clueless foreigner than a flamboyant gay man.

Estimated Total: $68 million

5) G-Force

Jerry Bruckheimer has been quiet on the movie front so far this summer, so it's about time for him to enter the fray. How about animated guinea pigs in an gadget-filled action adventure! This film has felt like a bomb to me from the beginning but you can't doubt the power of Bruckheimer and Disney. This movie will definitely skew young, entertaining the young 'uns and boring the parents. I'm looking for it to do numbers close to what Escape to Witch Mountain did.

Estimated Total: $65 million

6) Public Enemies
Finally, something for the grown ups. This period piece was directed by Michael Mann and stars a host of Oscar favorites like Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard. Mann is definitely reliable as a director, with five of his last six films topping $50 million. While I feel like this has been one of the higher-profile dramas of the summer and the caliber of the cast and crew is undeniable, I think that the fact that it's a period piece will limit it's appeal at a box office filled with robots, wizards, dinosaurs and guinea pigs.

Estimated Total: $60 million

7) I Love You, Beth Cooper

This is absolutely a film that I'd love to see break out and blow past all industry projections. I Love You, Beth Cooper follows a high school Valedictorian who confesses his love for the most popular girl at school in his graduation speech. The trailer looks sweet and funny and highly entertaining, reminding me a little bit of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" in its portrayal of a nerd's one night with the girl of his dreams. This one could fly out of theatres with nary a whisper like Nick and Norah did, but I'm hoping it doesn't. If the 17 Again crowd comes out for this one, it should do very well.

Estimated Total: $55 million



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