August 2015 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
August 5, 2015
7. Hitman: Agent 47 (August 21st)
As the longer and more precisely descriptive titles implies, this is a reboot of the 2007 film Hitman, which was based on a video game, starred Timothy Olyphant, and was at least a decent time at the movies (although it seems a lot of the game's fans don't share that sentiment). The title role's now held by Rupert Friend, a good actor oft seen in British period pieces, and one without particular experience as an action star. It's difficult to gauge just how much enthusiasm there is for the brand from its fan base. If the film's good, it'll do pretty well (of course), but even well-reviewed genre pictures haven't always found their audience (another recent reboot, 2012's Dredd, disappeared quickly despite almost universal acclaim). By the time of its latter-day August release, Hitman 2015 might not necessarily have a whole smorgasbord of action film competition, but I have a feeling it'll finish under the first film's $39 million total anyway.
Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $35 million
8. American Ultra (August 21st)
The title doesn't really suggest it, but this is an action comedy about stoners turned deadly assassins, and judging by some of the posters and trailers, the characters here are so far into their drug abuse as to make the Pineapple Express crew blush. The film re-teams Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, who co-headlined the well-made Adventureland. It is helmed by Nima Nourizadeh, whose Project X was a fairly successful shaky-cam teen comedy a few years back (actually, it's just about the only major shaky-cam teen comedy). Overall, American Ultra is the kind of film that appears largely and naturally designed for a cult audience on home video, and indeed opening this hitman parody on the same day as, well, Hitman, seems like an added bit of satire that might be lost on those not prone to memorizing the film release calendar. Eisenberg did headline another cultish-looking genre release, Zombieland, into numbers far greater than anyone could have expected, but it doesn't really feel like the same momentum is here this time around.
Opening weekend: $12 million / Total gross: $31 million
9. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (August 14th)
This 1960s television series adaptation stars two actors who were most recently the faces of a pair of summer 2013 films: Henry Cavill, this generation's Superman, and Armie Hammer, who was an excellent leading man in, and as, the underrated The Lone Ranger. The aura of rising stardom continues with their co-stars, Alicia Vikander, who broke out in Ex Machina this year, and Elizabeth Debicki, who had a showy part in The Great Gatsby. The style promised in the trailers is a sort-of European-flavored retro, with Cavill precisely recreating what appears to be a mild-mannered secret agent, here working for the CIA (as in the recent film Spy, British nationals now seem to constitute a plurality, or maybe even a majority, of on-screen CIA employees). How good the film is and how well critics may treat it will remain mysteries for the moment, but I just don't know that a big-screen version of this series will appeal to much of any audience regardless. It's true that director Guy Ritchie has transformed historical action into box office triumph before, with his two Sherlock Holmes adventures (and may do so again next summer, with his take on King Arthur). But the film that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. reminds me most of all of is The Avengers - you know, the real Avengers: Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes' 1998 adaptation of another 1960s spy television series, which was released exactly 17 years before this film's scheduled date.
Fate was not kind to the 1998 Avengers. I am not sure if fate's temperament has improved since.
Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $28 million
10. We Are Your Friends (August 28th)
A recent scheduling trend leaves both the last week of August and the first of September particularly bereft of new films, and this title is one of the few challengers entering the ring then. It's a romantic dramedy about Los Angeles DJs, and it is headlined by Zac Efron, a man who, after years of often-successful forays into a multitude of genres, seems to have finally settled on the one he likes most, the broad buddy comedy (he has no fewer than three of them scheduled for next year). Like another buddy film, Efron's That Awkward Moment, We Are Your Friends is an independently-made studio pick-up that surrounds him with an up-and-coming cast (his cohorts in That Awkward Moment, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, now comprise two of the members of the Fantastic Four, which perhaps is good news for his co-stars in this film). Efron's co-lead Emily Ratajkowski has a sort of hold on a moment in pop culture right now, but on the other hand, while the music industry subject matter may be of interest to some, I see numbers only somewhere along the lines of the Awkward picture from last year. Efron's 2016 should be bigger.
Opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $23 million
11. Underdogs (August 14th) and No Escape (August 26th)
Also opening in wide release are Underdogs (August 14th) and No Escape (August 26th). Underdogs is the sort of foreign-made animated film that gets thrown into theaters in the year's slower months, and in fact reminds me directly, for whatever reason, of Valiant, another such title from an August schedule past (2005). Underdogs' voice cast is recognizable, but the film has juggled many a release date, and its subject matter (football - but the wrong kind, with the feet) would seem singularly unappealing to local audiences. No Escape, on the other hand, has comic actor Owen Wilson re-entering the straightforward action genre, along with Pierce Brosnan, a man who's starred in an action film or two. No Escape has the feel of the kind of late-August lower-budget action picture that first started emerging in the late 1980s, and barring a really strong barrage of critical adoration, it's unlikely to escape its genre history.
Opening weekends: $7 million / Total gross: $21 million (each)