August 2009 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

August 7, 2009

The Doctor doesn't seem very nice.

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1. G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra (August 7th)

The action/adventure department serves up this would-be blockbuster, and the man at the helm is no less than Stephen Sommers, who's a veritable guru when it comes to pumping out $100 million-grossing B-movies (The Mummy series and Van Helsing, to be specific). Given that pedigree, it's no surprise that G.I. Joe is taking up the spot occupied by the third Mummy film last year, although I suspect the studio has higher expectations for this one. And why not? From the trailers, it looks like decent summer action, a subgenre that was sorely lacking in July. G.I. Joe's got Dennis Quaid, who gives it some respectability, and Channing Tatum, whose definitive breakout role this is evidently pegged to be. And it's from Hasbro, the toy company that also gave us Transformers; after the behemothic double-dose that that franchise delivered at the box office, does it really take anyone by surprise that Hollywood studios have rushed to greenlight movies based on '80s toy lines? I suggest Power Rangers get the big-budget treatment next, if only for the pleasure of seeing what the special effects department would do with characters like Lord Zedd, Rita Repulsa, King Mondo, and especially the all-skeletal Rito Revolto. But enough with the shameless nostalgia-tripping; G.I. Joe ought to play like a decent, summer 2001-style hit, and win the month.


Opening weekend: $58 million / Total gross: $135 million

2. Julie & Julia (August 7th)
I'm not usually one to go out of my way to lambast so-called "chick flicks" (or, to use the old-fashioned adage, "women's pictures"), but there's something about this one that just strikes me the wrong way. Maybe it's the shameless, Oscar-nominated (eh... make that soon-to-be Oscar-nominated) hamming by Meryl Streep, or the plucky and somewhat irritating-seeming misadventures of usually likable aspiring chef Amy Adams. It could be the marked obviousness of the whole thing - this was so clearly made out to be the female-driven hit of the summer - with Streep plugged in for the older crowd, while Adams gives it romantic comedy cred - that all the natural charm of such an endeavor is somewhat sucked away. Oh, well. As implied above, this semi-biography of Julia Child is going to open fairly well and then leg it up heftily. It's absolutely excellent counter-programming to G.I. Joe, and may well outgross it. Most importantly, after a long and brilliant career, Meryl Streep seems to have found herself as a strong box office force. This may just add another $100 million grosser to her belt (not to mention another Oscar nod - as if Streep really cares about that at this point).

Opening weekend: $26 million / Total gross: $89 million

3. Inglourious Basterds (August 21st)

What can one say about the box office prospects of a two and a half-hour piece of juicy WWII historical revisionism? Even if it is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino? Well, the somewhat mixed reviews this one got at Cannes aren't going to help any, but fanboy buzz is certainly on alert, and that should nab this a good opening weekend (if not much more). The presence of Brad Pitt in the lead is theoretically a plus, but I think Inglourious Basterds is probably just too weird for most audiences, and the general consensus that we're all tired of war movies should probably still apply here. Hard to call, but I see Basterds coming in on the lower ebb of Tarantino's output.

Opening weekend: $23 million / Total gross: $52 million

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