Weekend Forecast for June 13-15, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
June 13, 2014
A couple of unlikely franchises hook up for a June weekend that should be rather explosive in the box office department. Hollywood may be mostly out of ideas, but the ideas they're reusing, at least this weekend, are pretty strong.
In an era of “one and done”, 2010's How to Train Your Dragon was a notable exception, rising from a $43 million opening weekend to finish with $217 million domestically, largely on the strength of character and some lively action sequences, in that order. In the annals of DreamWorks Animation, this is the most Pixar-like film that they've pulled off, and were handsomely and justly rewarded for it. A sequel was not only justified financially, but warranted on its own merits.
So How To Train Your Dragon 2 returns to the Scottish Highlands, with the Viking clan now happily cohabitating with their pet dragons after freeing them from the yoke of a gigantic mother dragon, and finding them to be actually splendid companions. Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), the first of the clan to master dragon taming, takes his steed out on continuing adventures and expanding their reach in territory. That is, until they run into a conquering dragon master bent on collecting a massive dragon army that will lay waste to all around him. Add into this mix some family drama, with Hiccup's long lost mother (voiced by Cate Blanchett) entering the mix, and the nascent romance between Hiccup and Astrid continuing to develop.
While a number of animated franchises have struggled in their second outing (I am looking at you, Rio), How To Train Your Dragon should be one of the few that vaults into a new tier (I am looking at you here, Despicable Me). The reason, pure and simple, is quality. That's an easy enough answer, but extremely hard to reproduce, apparently. That the second film is the equal to, or perhaps even better than the first makes this a special release. Jumps of many, many millions are possible when people actually want a sequel, and I think that's the case here. I look for a commanding win of the weekend with $78 million.
Perhaps a bigger surprise sequel is 22 Jump Street, which has little business existing if you look at the project it originally spawned from. Chris Lord and Phil Miller (here is all my money, just make more Clone High already!) took the little loved '80s teen detective show 21 Jump Street and turned it into a hilarious meta-commentary on TV adaptations, while at the same time satisfying the demands of an action buddy comedy. For the sequel, they've decided to hang the lampshade on all the things that sequels do, while still doing their best at meeting the demand for “more action, more comedy” that all sequels of this type have. It seems an impossible ask, but then these are the guys who made one of the best movies of the year about plastic toy bricks.
With Jonah Hill and secret comedy weapon Channing Tatum returning in their roles as undercover detectives, this time sent to infiltrate a college drug smuggling ring, the sequel isn't straying too far from the formula. One thematic difference that the ads have really been focusing on is the partnership between the two leads – the bromance, as it were – and how it may be falling apart, taking the investigation with it. And then they do some keg stands and jump a car through some obstacles.