July 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
June 30, 2016
8. The Legend of Tarzan (July 1st)
The Tarzan story reminds me in so many ways of The Jungle Book that I had to double-check if they weren't somehow related - aside from the setting (Congo here, India there), Tarzan, a child raised by surprisingly domestic-minded forest-dwelling beasts, could be Mowgli all grown up. This latest retelling is a very expensive (remember the new rule; big budget = bad!) iteration of the adventures of Tarzan, who was last depicted in theatrical live action by Casper van Dien in 1998 and before him by Miles O'Keefe in 1981's higher-grossing remake (of course, there was a big Disney animated version in 1999, but animation isn't real). The Legend of Tarzan's lead is played by Alexander Skarsgård, who was a memorably heartless villain in the Straw Dogs reboot, and whose first big-screen lead role this is. His supporting cast is filled-out by the increasingly prolific Margot Robbie (as Jane, of course), along with the still-villainous Christoph Waltz (the man is incorrigible) and Samuel L. Jackson, who is turning in the first of what look like two atypical roles in 2016 (his near-unrecognizable part in Tim Burton's upcoming Miss Peregrine is the other). Tarzan is helmed by David Yates, director of any number of Harry Potter films, including this year's. Reviewers aren't really all that happy with Tarzan '16, and audiences have rejected one genre film after the next this year, but maybe the massive breakout of The Jungle Book has ginned viewers up for a bit of more of the same.
Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $59 million
9. Lights Out (July 22nd)
The month's only outright horror film is another entry from the James Wan-produced factory of movies about hateful, angry ghosts (say, on a totally unrelated note, can someone please revive my favorite subgenre, the traditional slasher film? Mr. Wan?). The offended party seeking vengeance on the human race here is a ghost with an aversion to appearing in the light, and its prey seem to be led by Teresa Palmer, who's bounded in and out of some interesting genre films in years past, including the zombie romance Warm Bodies, which I whole-heartedly recommend. As is true for characters appearing in horror films, forecasting horror film box office also often requires shooting blindly into the dark, but some questions have been graciously answered for us: Lights Out has already been screened (at June's LA Film Festival) and reviewed (100%, albeit from five critics), following both the buzz-building model and general release period of the first Conjuring film, also Wan's. I don't think we're looking at quite such a large breakout here, but the trailers are creepy, the rating is PG-13, and even with Ghostbusters around (not in this film, of course, where they're sorely needed), there should be enough room in the market for a decent horror film breakout.
Opening weekend: $23 million / Total gross: $55 million
10. Bad Moms (July 29th)
Bad Moms is the latest from the team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who've been buzzing around film comedy for years, often in scripting duties on Hangover movies (here, they direct, too). The movie's tale of imperfect and overworked moms rebelling against presumably stepfordian perfect mothers is a premise with some comic promise, and its face is Mila Kunis; she’s been a fixture in hit summer comedies, having starred in Ted and Friends with Benefits, which unlike Ted was a film both underrated and underseen, and where her chemistry with Justin Timberlake was excelsior. Here, Kunis is the ringleader of a large ensemble of talented comic actresses: on her side are the ubiquitous Kathryn Hahn, and Kristen Bell, who earlier this year was a good foil in a bad movie, The Boss. On the other end, the evidently armed and dangerous perfect mothers are led by Christina Applegate and Jada Pinkett Smith, as well as Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig, and who’s playing her biggest role to date here. Bad Moms' title and advertising seem to recall other jovial summer hits about suburbanites who elect to go rogue from their chosen professions, like Bad Teacher and Horrible Bosses, and as a female-led ribald comedy, there's bound to be some crossover with Ghostbusters. If reviews are good, it could play well for a few weeks. If not, three days will have to be enough.
Opening weekend: $18 million / Total gross: $48 million
11. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (July 8th)
Films about weddings are big in the summer (or maybe at any time of year, really), and it's probably no coincidence that Mike and Dave are slated to open one week before the exact 11th anniversary of the legendary Wedding Crashers (everybody commemorates that one... right?). The title’s Mike and Dave are brothers who end up saddled with a pair of vulgarian love interests, and the film has what in the late 1990s would have been called a hip young cast, headlined by Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick, who need no introduction and aren't getting one here. They are joined by Adam Devine, who had a couple of good moments in the Pitch Perfect films and gets a bigger role here, and Aubrey Plaza, very funny in The To Do List, and playing what looks like yet another ribald sexpot in this film (if it ain't broken...). Efron and Plaza are re-teamed here after January's Dirty Grandpa, which was a scattershot, crude, awful, but often quite very funny film that received too harsh an accreditation from critics. Mike and Dave are rated R (presumably for reasons other than a handful of mild profanities), and are set in Hawaii, which tends to help the box office of films almost as much as setting them in Vegas. For those keeping score, this is Efron's third 2016 comedy, after the aforementioned film about the old pervert and Neighbors 2, and barring reviews that either really hate them or really love them, Mike and Dave will probably come in somewhere smack dab in between the box office of those other two Efron titles ($35 million for the former, and $54 million, thus far, for the latter).