Reagen Sulewski Forecasts the Weekend
By Regen Sulewski
June 15, 2012
While the two films premiering this weekend have very little in common from a plot perspective, they do have one major similarity – lead actors who are on the downslope of their marquee value. This weekend is for the hardcore fans, as here's two new films out there that most of the world is ready to say “uhhhh, pass” about.
One of the big problems for comedians who specialize in immature comedy is outgrowing your audience. Adam Sandler has had close to an unblemished ten-year run of hits – Little Nicky and serious turns aside. Grown Ups seemed to address this idea that his audience was getting older and openly commenting on how he was probably too old for these antics. His 2011 films backslid from that, however, and Just Go With It and particularly Jack and Jill were two of his worst performing and worst reviewed films in quite a while. The shine on the Sandler brand has worn off, and with it, our tolerance for him playing the obnoxious variation on whatever idiot scenario he's come up with this time.
It's possible the message hasn't totally gotten there yet, as That's My Boy looks to be right in line with his usual fare, except instead of playing the screw-up son, he's playing the screw-up dad. Andy Samberg jumps on board as a successful professional, who hasn't had contact with his dad, Sandler, in years. When he comes back into Samberg's world as he's about to get married, old patterns reassert themselves and the strait-laced Samberg's life quickly goes to hell. This sounds like it would be more aggravating than entertaining to watch, and generally fills me with sympathetic rage. You get the feeling that Sandler is openly taunting his fans now, especially after the waking nightmare that was Jack and Jill. While even that monstrosity opened to $25 million, I think even his biggest supporters are going to be a little gun shy, particularly when this doesn't look like a home run of a concept. After Little Nicky, his next film was a step back from this then average opening weekend, and I believe we'll see the same effect here. I see a start of about $21 million in store.
Behind door number two, we have Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages, the film adaptation of the jukebox musical, which could safely be summed up as “Yay! '80s!” Taking place on the Sunset Strip during the heights of glam rock excess, it follows two young people, played by Julianne Hough and something called Diego Bonata as they meet and chase their Hollywood dreams, a phrase I can almost type without wanting to retch. Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx, which is admittedly not dumber than most of the names of guys in rock bands during that time, whose comeback concert after leaving rehab serves as one of the focal points for the plot.
The other centers around a Sunset Strip bar owned by Alec Baldwin, wearing a ridiculous wig and looking so out of place it hurts. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bryan Cranston, Malin Akerman, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti and Mary J. Blige round out the significant names in the cast, with 80s music carrying about half the load, making this into a particularly star-studded feature-length episode of Glee. It's hard to think of a film more predicated on nostalgia since American Graffiti, and with the compounding factor of novelty - “Tom Cruise sings! And wears leather pants! And has tattoos!” - it's hard to imagine anyone trying to enjoy this movie non-ironically. And that's particularly true since it includes a number set to We Built This City, the least rocking song ever recorded, and the national anthem of Selloutistan.
It's difficult to imagine this film coming out at a worse time in history for rock, which is at its lowest ebb since Theme From a Summer Place hit #1 on the charts. Youth audiences aren't going to care much about a musical built from songs written when their parents were their age or younger, and it's hard to picture true fans eager to hear Def Leppard done as glorified karaoke. This has Bad Idea Acid Wash Jeans written all over it, and I think we're going to see an opening weekend of about $19 million.
These underwhelming choices leave room for Madagascar 3 to stay atop the box office, and for the War Crime known as Afro Circus to worm its way directly into still more parents' brains and test their sanity. Previous entries in this franchise have shown middling holdovers, and sonic assaults aside, I don't see any passionate responses against this film. As it remains the main family option out there, I expect this to show decent second weekend behavior, with about $34 million.
Prometheus remains a big wild card, with responses varying wildly. Mixed reviews from the public are typically bad news, though, even if the positive reviews trend towards the raves. A small, passionate audience usually can't keep a film that has a group of people who dislike it intensely from experiencing a steep drop-off – in other words, the nays typically have it. What's going to be interesting is to see just what the final total is, and particularly what the international total will be, as far as getting Ridley Scott's proposed sequels made. Getting to $200 million domestic probably makes that a slam dunk, though that might be difficult with that opening weekend. Coming off its $51 million opening, we should see this drop down to $26 million for weekend two.
Kristen-mania couldn't keep Snow White and the Huntsman going strong for a second weekend, and it lost nearly 60% of its opening weekend business to fall to third spot. It did cross $100 million mid-week, so there's that, and $150 million domestic is almost certainly a sure thing, with $175 million as a decent mark to shoot for. Those severe second weekend drop-offs usually lessen in week three, so it should bring in about $12 million this weekend.
The Avengers train keeps rolling along on the route to $600 million domestic, though its total at the end of this run might be just a temporary stopping point with the proposal that Joss Whedon's director's cut might get a theatrical release later this year. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the sinking ship, if I may butcher a metaphor here. In any case, it should see around $6 million this weekend, about level with the increasingly irrelevant Men in Black 3, which is going to wind up well short of the official $225 million budget number domestically, to say nothing of the more probable reported figure of nearly $300 million. Don't worry, Will Smith! Independence Day 2 will save the day! And if not that, then maybe Wilder Wild West!