July 2009 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

July 3, 2009

Ron just found out that he'll be having to ride the special bus.

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Although it may not be obvious at first glance, July 2009 is looking like a strong month. Aside from the two big bruisers (Potter and the token CGI release), there are enough movies that have the potential to end up around, or even solidly over, the $100 million mark. There is also a higher than average concentration of family films competing for the same demographic - a sure sign of some bad scheduling decisions.

1) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 15th)

The Harry Potter films are becoming like this decade's version of the Friday the 13th series. They just won't stop making them (no letters, please; yes, I know there's some semblance of difference between the two). No matter how many times it looks like Potter is finally dead, they always bring him back for another go-around. Where did the last one - part 5, was it – leave off? Was that the one where they accidentally resurrected Potter with a lightning bolt, and then had to spend the movie trying to drown him again in Hogwarts Lake? Or was that the one where he had to fight that pissed-off psychic teenage girl? Well, if Potter can survive that, I doubt he's going to have any trouble making it through whatever they have lined up for him this time. As long as the series fundamentals are the same - a bunch of horny teenagers, a lake, and the somehow-still alive Potter on the rampage again - this latest and decidedly needless entry will have no trouble raking in the cash. And if it's a success, I imagine we're going to get another sequel. Or two.

Opening weekend: $150 million five-day / Total gross: $292 million


2) Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (July 1st)

The Ice Age series is like this decade's version of the Nightmare on Elm S... okay, I won't go there again. If I seem disgruntled, it's because this month has managed to pack in several of my least favorite subgenres. CGI franchisery, in particular, has gone haywire. The last Ice Age opened with $68 million and finished with $195 million. Thanks to the plump 4th of July opening slot, this one's going to end up even higher. A drawback is the sameness of the film - aside from a female version of Scrat (that little sabre-toothed squirrel), there don't appear to be any additions to the fray. In a sense, that's a strength (don't fix what isn't broken), but it's also a weakness. The kidmovie assault in the weeks following will probably hurt Ice Age's legs some, but it seems like an easy $200+ million grosser anyway.

Opening weekend: $95 million five-day / Total gross: $250 million

3) Funny People (July 31st)

Speaking of unfriendly subgenres - Funny People looks to be the definitive Apatow male-bonding movie of the year. For Seth Rogen, it's going to be a return to solid $100 million shores, after his solo disappointments Observe and Report and Zack and Miri. For Adam Sandler, it'll be yet another in a long, long line of three-digit grossers, though his last two films only just passed the $100 million mark. I maintain, in fact, that Sandler remains the second biggest movie star in North America (with Will Smith at #1) – other than Sandler and Smith, no actor has headlined a $100 million-grossing movie in every consecutive year since (and including) 2002. That very respectable chain isn't going to be broken anytime soon. Bottom line - the audiences that loved the 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up are certainly not going to be kept away from Apatow's third directorial effort, and the presence of Sandler is only going to up the ante.

Opening weekend: $45 million / Total gross: $155 million

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