Weekend Forecast for July 10-12, 2015
By Reagen Sulewski
July 9, 2015
A very swingy summer turns once again to the manic, in a couple senses of the term, to improve the overall fortunes of the box office.
As any parent of small children who have been exposed to the Despicable Me movies, let's say, dozens of times can tell you, their killer app has been the little pidgin-speaking homunculi known as minions, a cross between The Three Stooges and classic Chuck Jones. Now, they get their own movie, cleverly entitled Minions, which shows their origins, not that anyone really cared, but also more adventures in their past as they try to choose a new infernal leader.
In addition to the cast of thousands of little yellow chaos engines, we also have a strong voice cast including Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan and Steve Carell (for maximum tie-in) although their presence has been minimized in the ads, with most of the focus being on the title characters – or at least three of them that have been singled out to streamline the film a little bit. These characters are essentially the comedy version of crack cocaine for the under 12 set, and also satisfy a particular comedy itch for adults. It's very much not highbrow comedy, but it's also not insulting or saccharine, and extracting all the best anarchic bits from the Despicable Me movies into one package seems like a winning concept.
Of course, the producers of The Penguins of Madagascar also thought this was a winning concept, until that film fell flat last fall. Another attempt at a spin-off film, it managed just $83 million domestically, albeit with a decent worldwide take. There are a couple of significant differences here. The first is that the minion characters are much more popular and more easily marketable, and the second is that the Despicable Me films trend much older in audience than the Madagascar films, which have been largely intolerable for anyone over the age of 15.
The minions have also reached the point of full cultural phenomenon, and are essentially this decade's equivalent of a Garfield stuck on a car window (kids, ask your parents). The film basically sells itself at this point and is probably limited only by the lower ticket prices paid by a large portion of its audience. In some ways, this is the Jurassic World for those who were too young to get into Jurassic World. I'd look for a massive weekend of about $120 million for Minions.
Falling much further behind is The Gallows, this weekend's horror counter-programming. In the film, a high school drama program attempts to revive a play 20 years after a horrific accident occurred during its initial showing, leaving an actor dead from the titular prop. Of course, this is a bad idea in all ways, especially if you exist in a universe where hauntings are possible. As the revival gets going, mysterious things start to happen which, yada yada vengeful spirit you get the drill.