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Weekend Forecast for August 9-11, 2013

By Reagen Sulewski

August 9, 2013

Kids, you like buying cars that look like this. Buy planes too! Disney gotta pay for The Lone Ranger

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Which brings us to our heavier hitters. Back when Pixar sold (or at least leased with an option to buy) its soul by making Cars 2 for the toy money, we expected that was as low as things could get for the venerated animation studio. Technically that's still true, as it's parent company Disney that's behind the release of Planes, a spin-off movie that was originally destined for video, but pulled back into theaters because, again, toys.

Although the visuals are rather snazzy looking (an almost wordless trailer made the rounds that was admittedly gorgeous), we still exist in the same world where goofy jokes about planes being human-like are expected to serve as the hook. There's also a weird subplot about finding your own destiny shoved into here, but – and I don't want to bust anyone's bubble here – these are machines built for specific purposes. This is not “you can do anything if you really try hard enough” territory here.

Notably, we have Dane Cook (strike... whatever at this point) voicing the main character a crop duster (crops for whom? Shut up, it's a valid question) that's afraid of heights (oh COME ON) who enters a worldwide aerial race and yada yada triumph of the spirit and all that. Also lending voices here are Julia Louis-Deyfuss, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, John Cleese, Stacy Keach, Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer (in a Top Gun bit) and a handful of others. As much as I've been down on this film in this write-up, I still expect it to win the weekend. Why? Ask a five-year-old. While it's strictly speaking not Pixar, for all intents and purposes it might as well be, and the visual style is unmistakably related to Cars. So while even though there was a big slide from Cars to Cars 2 in both quality and box office, Planes should be an able follow-up financially, with an opening weekend of about $40 million.

Finally, we have Elysium, the follow-up to District 9 by South African director Neill Blomkamp. It posits a world where the ultra-rich have left Earth for an orbiting space station paradise (in the title) with no disease and no want, leaving the rest of the world (oh, let's say 99% of us) to forage for the scraps left behind. A robotic police force keeps things in line and only occasionally all the time goes too far into tyranny. Matt Damon plays a reformed car thief working in a miserable factory job. He becomes accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. In the time he has left, he hatches a plan – get up to Elysium and take the cure out of an icy Jodie Foster's (but I repeat myself) hands – and maybe in the process bring the whole place down.

How to get up there when the station has a considerable Death Star-esque defence mechanism? Why, borrow a robotic exo-skeleton from one of the station's own enforcers and override the system (so, blindingly obvious social metaphor, check; body horror, check). Cue the awesome explosions and gun battles. Much of the hype for Elysium is based on the extraordinary achievement that was District 9 – telling a great story amidst cracker-jack action scenes with a dash of humor in them. That his follow-up has been relegated to August isn't a fantastic sign, although studios simply don't know what to do with non-franchisable films these days.




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Surprisingly, for all his fame, Matt Damon has been a long time without a hit he can really call his own. True Grit had only a little to do with him, and we probably have to go back to The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007. Which isn't to say that We Bought a Zoo or The Adjustment Bureau were flops, exactly, but neither did they live up to his fame. Elysium looks to be the right blend of topic and star to give him another – if not quite at the Bourne level. Something similar to District 9's opening weekend, or around $35 million, seems likely.

Denzel Washington was his Denzel-y self with 2 Guns, bringing Marky Mark along for the ride for a $27 million opening weekend. This is pretty smack in the middle of things as far as Washington's openings go. As such, a sort of middle-of-the-road performance of $16 million for the second weekend should be in store.

The Wolverine couldn't escape its comic-ness, dropping 60% to $21 million in its second weekend, though it's since passed the $100 million mark mid-week.These days, it seems like a B-rating for a comic movie is as good as an F. I'd give it $12 million this weekend.

Something that feels like a battle being won occurred with the opening weekend of Smurfs 2 being only $17 million. While there's still the international box office to contend with, that's a soft enough opening that it'll give pause for the idea of Smurfs 3, and perhaps even other lazy kids' franchise movies. I can hope for about $9 million for a second weekend.

Going further down the list, we have The Conjuring, a pure profit machine for Warners, and earning about $8 million this frame, as well as Despicable Me 2, in what is now a positively stacked kids' market, with $7 million.


Forecast: Weekend of August 9-11, 2013
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Planes 3,702 New 40.4
2 Elysium 3,284 New 35.7
3 We're the Millers 3,260 New 26.8
4 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 3,031 New 20.1
5 2 Guns N/A N/A 16.2
6 The Wolverine N/A N/A 12.3
7 The Conjuring N/A N/A 8.8
8 Despicable Me 2 N/A N/A 7.4
9 Grown Ups 2 N/A N/A 4.8
10 Red 2 N/A N/A 3.0

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