Weekend Forecast for July 18-20
By Reagen Sulewski
July 18, 2014
A summer marked by soft box office doesn't get any better news this weekend, as mid-July gets an almost August-like slate of films, none of which inspire that feeling of needing to rush out to the movie theater RIGHT NOW. If you want a snapshot of why 2014 has felt so underwhelming, you could do a lot worse than this weekend.
The first of two supremely cynical sequels that will battle for the weekend title, The Purge: Anarchy is the followup to last summer's surprise horror (?)/thriller about a future America where for one night per year, all crime is permitted. Setting aside how unworkable and insane this idea is, it's a neat idea for a movie, and part of the reason that the first movie, which centered on one family hunkering down for the annual spree, was able to hook people for an opening weekend. I'm not ready to anoint Ethan Hawke with any box office pull given the results of Getaway, but the fact that it was fronted by a recognizable name probably didn't hurt.
Now, as a sequel and a “brand”, it can go the no name route, with Zach Gilford from Friday Night Lights and Michael K. Williams being the only names that immediately jump out of the cast. In this version, we get caught outside in the real world while The Purge is happening, following groups of people who are just looking to survive with both their bodies and humanity intact. Keeping the budget to just $9 million basically guarantees a significant profit for the film, for those looking for something that gives action and vigilante groups what they want, though it's hard to say who is missing the point more – them or the film's director, who seems to want this to be a cautionary tale, but just succeeds at making wanton violence look cool. It's also possibly a bit of an assumption to say that people were really asking for this sequel, given that The Purge was one of the least leggiest films in box office history – opening to $34 million, and finished with just $64 million. Of course, as alluded to, this film could earn one third of that and still come out OK.
Commercials for the film have done a relatively good job of highlighting creepy little moments from life amidst The Purge, but in essence it's a horror movie with the beats of an action chase movie. We've seen that there's some appetite for this, but not a lot, and with how poorly the first was received in actuality, expect a decent drop in opening weekends, to around $22 million.
When the long history of the Pixar/Disney story is finally written, one expects there'll be a chapter that's just a picture of a guy shrugging, entitled “Cars and its spinoffs." Planes: Fire and Rescue is the sequel to the spinoff to the sequel that was supposed to be direct to video in the first place. As we've trickled downwards from the original flawed premise (where are all the people? Who made them? Why is no one else bothered by this?!?!), interest has definitely trailed off as well, with Planes earning a very un-Disney like $22 million in its opening weekend. Can we drive this further into the ground? Let's see!