July 2015 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
July 3, 2015
As another jokey sci-fi tale with some appeal to children, and starring an actor singularly known for comedies, Pixels is up there with Ant-Man as a film that's hard to narrow down strategically. However, even those who scorn the films of Adam Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison, have to admit that Pixels' idea is sort of brilliant: in a movie world that hungers for pre-2000s nostalgia (see the dinosaurs and talking robots), why not take some of the most famous video game characters of the 1980s, enlarge them onto the silver screen, and then, inevitably, command them to invade and brutalize the earth? Aside from Sandler, director Chris Columbus definitely gives the film credibility with the younger set, and marketing has been relatively clever, without being completely overwhelming. In short, had Pixels been released in the summer of 2005, it would have all the markings of a solid blockbuster, a film easily approaching $200 million. And yet the recent past blurs the picture: sure-fire Sandler vehicles like That's My Boy and Blended have produced box office numbers inexplicably well below his average (and those were not bad movies, at least to my taste). The presence of Kevin James, an actor who's decidedly associated with Sandler, may not change much, but turns by Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad, and audience-pleaser Peter Dinklage give the film some variety. It's still a tough call, but I'm thinking Pixels will turn in numbers somewhere in the neighborhood of Grown Ups 2.
Opening weekend: $42 million / Total gross: $125 million
While it feels like Judd Apatow and his cohorts and underlings have dominated film comedy since either 2004's Anchorman (which he produced) or 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Trainwreck comes in as only his fifth film as director. And while his filmography as producer is lengthy and complex, his record as helmer is easier to parse: his first two films, that Virgin and Knocked Up, were knockout successes, with the latter building on the renown of the former to gross almost $150 million in 2007. His two subsequent titles, Funny People and This is 40, certainly have their fans, but were largely unembraced by the public. The equation changes here for one simple reason: Trainwreck stars Amy Schumer, one of the most talked-about comedians in America today. And while it's true that no episode of her television series Inside Amy Schumer has ever had ratings of more than one million plus people, she's blitzed through the last several months with a heaping of media attention to her show, her stand-up performances, and her socio-racial-political commentary. Coupled with already-positive reviews, Trainwreck seems to have a guarantee of playing like a solid summer comedy at the box office.
It should also be said: most of Judd Apatow's films are defined by an undeterred length of over two hours. Trainwreck does not break this tradition.
Opening weekend: $33 million / Total gross: $100 million
7. Vacation (July 29th)
It's back! Vacation is another film moved up from the year's fourth quarter to its third, shifted as it was from October into a release date more closely resembling the original film (which bowed July 1983). A late summer Wednesday release also calls to mind another decidedly R-rated family adventure story, We're the Millers, which did gangbuster business two years back. The date change makes perfect sense - what kind of a person goes on vacation in October? Strictly speaking, this is not a reboot but a continuation of the Vacation franchise, which is probably still best remembered for its third and biggest film, Christmas Vacation, as well as for its first (don't ask about the other two). Ed Helms picks up the reigns as the son of Chevy Chase's character, and the cast also includes Christina Applegate, Charlie Day, Michael Peña (again), Chase himself, and, memorably, Chris Hemsworth in a comedic supporting part. It's also an entry in one of my favorite genres, the road trip film, and should do pretty well even having to share theater space with Trainwreck. By the way, if this film is a hit, a semi-redo of Christmas Vacation is probably inevitable.
Opening weekend: $32 million (5-day) / Total gross: $92 million