July 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

June 30, 2016

Yeah, I saw what you said about The Martian. And me.

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With the biggest movies of the summer (all two of them) now behind us, the more modest July seems to aim for only mid-level blockbusters, divided about evenly between the CGI-infested kids' table and slightly more adult-oriented sequels. So far this year, July is also the month where it's hardest to guess which film will end up as the highest grossing (sorry, Spielberg fans, although you never know).

1. The Secret Life of Pets (July 8th)
2016 box office has been solidly divided into the haves and the have-nots, with the haves being those six films that just about everybody has seen (the $300 million+ grossers Deadpool, Zootopia, B V S, Jungle Book, Civil War, and Finding Dory), and then all the rest coming in at a much lower bracket (the seventh highest grossing film of the year is X-Men: Apocalypse, at a mere $151 million, far removed from biggest film #6). CGI films can sometimes surprise, but I'm not sure The Secret Life of Pets has the gait to make its way past $200 million. The film's story, about what domestic animals are up to when unobserved by human eyes, remind me of Zootopia for whatever weird reason, even though I know that the plots are actually very different.

Secret Life has some real fundamentals in its favor: the animals are of course adorable, and the trailers bask in the kind of cuteness and low-key humor that seem to engineer a good audience reaction. The voice cast is knee deep in talent (Louis C.K., Steve Coogan, Kevin Hart, and the resurgent Dana Carvey, among others), although that isn't likely to matter all that much (do C.K. and Coogan resonate among the pre-pubescent?). The Secret Life of Pets has already been released here and there overseas, including in the U.K., where it has been decently reviewed, although that's no longer a guarantee of lasting quality (Independence Day: Resurgence went from a 51% Tomatoes score carried mostly on the backs of overseas critics, all the way down to a more accurate 32% once U.S. critics had their say, proving that it's not Europeans who have the more refined taste). In any case, Pets should do at least pretty well; it does follow on the heels of another CGI film that's been a massive success, although Minions came in three weeks after Inside Out last year and that didn't seem to tame it all that much.

Opening weekend: $53 million / Total gross: $162 million


2. Jason Bourne (July 29th)
One of this month's four-time sequels to a 2002 release (with Ice Age 5 being the other), Jason Bourne is a film that could easily outgross every other July title (a battle that's probably limited to the top three movies on this list). Matt Damon's Bourne has turned from a possible one off summer hit from long ago to one of the more iconic spies in pop culture, with box office that peaked at $227 million for 2007's third film (the lowest-grossing Bourne is still the Damon-less spin-off). So the will of the people says they love this stuff, but the Bourne films are a franchise that I always had a curious detachment from - as best as I understand it, after four films and fourteen years, all the characters are still talking about the events of a single botched CIA operation from 2002? Can't they just get over it? Damon is still riding high from his recent celestial overstay in The Martian, and the addition of Supporting Actress Oscar winner Alicia Vikander is intriguing, as are the return of Julia Stiles and a new CIA director played by Tommy Lee Jones, who seems to be popping up behind the desk as a shady operative in a lot of thrillers lately.

I assume Jason Bourne has been missed, and here he's once again in the safe hands of director Paul Greengrass, who helmed every Damon-starring Bourne but the first. Jason Bourne also has a smart release date: a time, late July, by which time entertainment for the over 35 set may be in scarce supply. In short, this part five should play as another solid series entry, even if I do believe that the Bourne films’ biggest days are roughly a decade behind them (and am potentially very, very wrong about that, as always).

Opening weekend: $62 million / Total gross: $155 million

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