June 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
June 2, 2016
7. The Conjuring 2 (June 10th)
Set in some of London’s finest haunted houses, The Conjuring 2 documents another case from the files of paranormal investigators and tai chi enthusiasts Ed and Lorraine Warren, retold here with what I presume is a detailed attention to historical and factual accuracy. The Warrens’ stories, whether real or imagined, appear ever more franchise-ready, and the first Conjuring had one of the better horror film performances of all time (really), opening to a strong $41 million and finishing up at $137 million (it's still that rare straightforward horror film that makes it to $100 million, much less opens that high). While this is called “2”, The Conjuring has in fact already inspired a spin-off, Annabelle (starring that ugly haunted doll), a film that was successful enough ($84 million!) to conjure its own sequel, slated for next summer. That brings us to another rule of horror box office: for whatever reason, first-time horror sequels pretty much never ever end up outgrossing their predecessor. That rule is usually broken once or twice per decade, but probably not here: the first film was exceedingly well-reviewed and buzzed about for months, and I think some of The Conjuring’s energy and good-will was expanded on Annabelle’s chances. We’re also roughly three years away from the first film, and that's an eternity for horror fans. Still, there's been enough money left on the table at the box office this summer to ably fund a decent opening weekend here, even with early-month competition running rampant.
Opening weekend: $41 million / Total gross: $90 million
8. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (June 3rd)
This mockumentary of a parody of a satire about the pop music industry is just the second film from the comedy trio The Lonely Island, after their little-seen Hot Rod from 2007. As required for mocking pop culture, Popstar includes the usual glut of celebrity cameos, and arrives at a release date that's about a year away from the Entourage film, which seems to have been a much less ironic treatment of some of the same material. Popstar is, strictly speaking, right now the only film on this list to be a sure thing: it’s getting good reviews, although neither of its recent brothers in comedy, Neighbors 2 or The Nice Guys, seems to have been helped all that much by critical approval. The film’s title, subtitle, and premise may be confusing to some (like me), and some others may not get the joke (I’m working on it), but a lack of discernible comedy competition until at least Central Intelligence ought to give this one a few decent weekends.
Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $38 million
9. Me Before You (June 3rd)
Filling the apparently much-needed June romance slot is this English film, based on a U.K. novel that may or may not be more popular overseas than over here. As the poster somewhat hints but does not totally give away, the male lead is in a wheelchair, cared for by the woman with whom he eventually partners in romance. Stars Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke are somewhat established names, although in Dwayne Johnsonesque fashion, Claflin has made his way into so many franchises (Pirates of the Caribbean, Snow White, The Hunger Games), that this is remarkably his first major film outside of one, while Clarke (famous for being on that show) makes this a nice change of pace from blowing errant machinery away as Sarah Connor in last summer's Terminator sequel. In a summer so far bereft of romantic dramas (so much so that indies like Love & Friendship and The Lobster are doing much better than expected in their limited bows), there may be a niche this one fills, although when it comes to these June romances, Me Before You will probably play out more in the ballpark of The Sisterhood of Pants Travel [sic] than The Notebook. That’s not so bad.
Opening weekend: $9 million / Total gross: $33 million
10. Free State of Jones (June 24th)
This is a true story of the 1860s American Civil War (that’s the one Captain America wasn’t involved in), about the pseudo-alliteratively named Newton Knight, a Mississippian farmer who led an anti-Confederate rebellion that occupied a good chunk of his home state. The $65 million budget is very ambitious, and star Matthew McConaughey, whose acting acumen is at its peak, seems like the right choice to headline a dark, meaningful film about race, betrayal, and violence, set in the American South. The time period is somewhat undercovered in American cinema these days, which may be a plus, and these quiet drama films often play long and sturdy during the summer months, especially when entertainment for adults is in scarce supply (as it now inevitably is).
Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $32 million
11. The Shallows (June 29th)
For whatever confounding reason, there are less horror films released in June than in just about any other month of the year (even December, believe it or not), which means that 1) Someone should have told that to the Conjuring sequel, and, 2) The Shallows' release date is a mere two days away from profitability. All kidding aside, this thriller is headlined by Blake Lively, who sketched out a nice success for herself last year headlining the intriguing if frustrating The Age of Adaline, and whose name recognition will lift the film somewhat from anonymity. The director is Jaume Collet-Serra (who made lots of those Liam Neeson thrillers like Run All Night and Unknown), and the premise, about a surfer trapped by a particularly nasty and presumably rather starving shark, is a callback to another shark-baiting thriller, Open Water from 2004, and perhaps also to the more honestly-titled Shark Night 3D (2011). This more elegant-looking film could do reasonably well; the Wednesday opening doesn’t make that much sense, but I guess the film is just trying to get away from the Spielberg-led onslaught of its oncoming weekend, although there couldn’t be too many people who would otherwise be forced to choose between The Big Friendly Giant and a big hungry shark.
Opening weekend: $12 million (5-day) / Total gross: $29 million