July 2010 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

July 1, 2010

Apparently looks CAN kill.

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2010's July is a strange little month, with a few surer bets hedged among a group of films that might end up at roughly the same box office place. A lot of questions abound: What's Inception going to be like? Will anything finish with less than $40 million? And could this be the first July in a long time without a single $200 million earner? Stay tuned.

1. Inception (July 16, 2010)

Introducing possibly the biggest wild card of the summer, and the season's one remaining title that Internet-frequenting movie fans are still salivating over. Inception's trailer mixes fantastical dreamworld special effects with more conventional action and thriller elements, and its pedigree certainly shows good breeding: it is unquestionably being positioned as the thematic follow-up to director Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (the release date is no coincidence), and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio (back in box office's good graces after his stay at Shutter Island), along with an international hodgepodge of talent, including some Nolan vets (Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe). Early word is on the positive side, though the premise seems like a somewhat less bloody, more technologically-derived variation on what the Nightmare on Elm Street movies have been doing for some time now. Either way, if Nolan has done well here, the sky's the limit on the numbers.

P.S.: I sincerely hope that Inception doesn't have the same identikit, creatively-deprived ending as Shutter Island. Enough is enough with those.

Opening weekend: $64 million / Total gross: $191 million


2. The Last Airbender (July 1, 2010)

In the glory days of the 1990s, the 4th of July slot was reserved for mainstream mega-blockbusters that targeted every potential demographic, and thus raked in the grosses with aplomb (remember Independence Day, Men In Black, and Armageddon?). A decade later, the Independence Day slot has become a niche battleground arena for fanboy movies - the girls (Twilight: Eclipse) vs. their somewhat younger brothers (Last Airbender) - with both films possessing little apparent appeal outside their comfort zones. More to the point, I've long been confused as to the floor and ceiling of a Last Airbender movie, and the much-maligned choice of director has only added to my curiosity. There's no doubt that Last Airbender has a core base of support, and that's going to prop it up over opening weekend, as will the tiresome convert-or-die 3D. But the critics have really been going to town on this one, and that's going to chop, chop, chop away a lot of attendance from outside of the base. My guess: Airbender will join Prince of Persia and The A-Team as another summer 2010 franchise that wasn't. But it might just squeeze out about $100 million while it's at it.

Opening weekend: $61 million (four-day) / Total gross: $123 million

3. Despicable Me (July 9, 2010)

Another month, another unanimously critically-praised CGI megablockbuster. Despicable Me bears an uncanny resemblance (sort of) to the upcoming MegaMind (with the villain recast as protagonist), it contains the voice talent of the usual smorgasbord of Apatow alumns (Carell, Wiig, Segel - and Russell Brand?!?), and it features the token barrage of witty trailer jokes laughed at by everyone but me. Thus, to deny that Despicable Me will gross $100 million is to deny the inevitable. As a matter of fact, I believe it will bulk up a total take somewhat higher than the number I have allotted to it below. But gee, I couldn't really place a CGI cartoon above a big Fourth of July movie, could I? Some things are just sacred.

Opening weekend: $43 million / Total gross: $115 million

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