July 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
June 30, 2016
6. Star Trek Beyond (July 22nd)
One of the month's more unpredictable entries is this third entry in the Star Trek reboot universe, and technically the 13th Star Trek film of all, if we start counting at Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 (let’s). With J. J. Abrams, helmer of the last two Treks, having moved on to directing what somehow ended up the highest-grossing movie ever made (and which shall remain unnamed here), part three duties are taken over by Justin Lin, maker of no fewer than four films in the Fast & Furious franchise (no scene where a car jumps from one spaceship on another?). The cast is mostly all back, and as much as I don't want to write it, Star Trek Beyond will most likely be the last major release starring Anton Yelchin. Here, the crew, stranded on an unknown planet, fights off another collection of hostile aliens, some of whom are said to be played by Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella, even though we kind of have to take the studio's word for it (they're encased under totally unidentifying makeup and it could just as easily be Paul Giamatti or Warren Beatty in there as Elba). Boutella, by the way, is having an interesting time in films where she can be seen more clearly - she was Samuel L. Jackson's enforcer in Kingsman, and will star in, and yes, as, The Mummy next year.
Anyway, the Star Trek series re-launch in 2009 was epic, delivering one of the bigger summer blockbuster surprises of recent years. In terms of the actual stats, the 2013 sequel didn't do all so bad at all ($228 million domestic gross, 86%-worthy Rotten Tomatoes reviews), but it seems to have lost the expectations game somewhat. More to my point, all 2016 sequels are kind of suspect now (as I write, there are still only three follow-ups this year to have outgrossed their predecessors, B V S, Civil War, and Ms. Dory), which also gives me a lot of pause in assessing Star Trek Beyond's chances. Few would doubt that it'll take in less than the last one, but even then, am I calling this one too low? Probably. Great reviews can double these numbers.
Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $89 million
7. The Purge: Election Year (July 1st)
The Purge film's premise of a night where all crime is legal has, interestingly, become considerably more plausible since its initial release, which is either a testament to the foresight of these films or a disservice to North Americans ("A Purge? It hasn't been called for yet... just a suggestion"). The Purge series itself has turned its focus from a small-scale home invasion thriller to Warriors-esque journeys of survival through the unforgiving big city night, this time around upping its doses of political satire (I imagine that the specific wording of the Purgers' call to "Keep America great" was not selected coincidentally). Here, an unruly senator (a real Purge-hater, she) is targeted by higher-ups for purge night-extermination (certain government officials were typically off-limits for purging on, but I guess we now know that senators are fair game). The Purge 3 is headlined again by Frank Grillo, who looks like the Punisher and played a would-be vigilante in the second film, and a few minor players are back as well. The posters are in the tradition of great morbid humor, picturing revelers/purgers dressed as horror film mask versions of many characters from American folklore, including Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty, and Abraham Lincoln.
I think, like the Saw films before it, the Purge has developed a more-or-less consistent box office base: the first film finished with $64 million and the second topped it with a leggier $71 million (If you don't count them as horror films, then they don't even violate my golden, unimpeachable rule of how first-time horror sequels rarely outgross their predecessors). Reviews are thus far uncommonly strong for a Purge film, which should help it, and I assume a fourth Purge entry, a documentary, will be here forthwith.
Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $78 million