August 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

August 4, 2016

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2. Pete's Dragon (August 12th)

A week after the dust from Suicide Squad has presumably settled, and most of the debris have been cleaned, Pete's Dragon is the film that may emerge as the month's real sleeper hit, especially given Disney's recent track record for producing unreasonably high box office results. Pete's Dragon, about a boy and his monster, is based on a 1977 traditionally animated film that was never particularly well reviewed or, I think, beloved, but which has here inspired a more live action-based redo that's getting a warm early critical reception. Like Disney's The BFG before it, Pete's Dragon's marketing inevitably centers on the image of a small child and a giant monstrous figure that can never fully fit into the poster's frame. The director is David Lowery, previously of indie drama Ain't Them Bodies Saints, not necessarily one's first guess for a maker of children's entertainment, while the cast is nice and agreeable, including Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford, whose 80th birthday will follow in the week of the film's release. Pete's Dragon isn't going to be another Zootopia or Jungle Book, I don't think - right? - but if those reviews hold up, and I suspect they will, it's looking like a strong opener and a film that can play well for a few weeks, even in the dog days of summer.

Opening weekend: $31 million / Total gross: $124 million

3. Sausage Party (August 12th)

A real tough one to predict, Sausage Party is a hard-R animation starring many of the best comic minds of their generation (and Seth Rogen). The film is about grocery store produce rebelling against what they discover is a certain death at the hands or the orifices of unfeeling humans, making it into a sort of Chicken Run - if the chickens had been captured, killed, processed, and then still wanted to get the hell out of there. Sausage Party perhaps has the appeal of a curiosity more than anything, but there's a good chance its potential audiences will be persuaded by the marketing and reviews: after all, if you believe Rotten Tomatoes, this film is perfect. It has 100%, from eight reviewers, and will probably retain a reasonably high score even as more of the nation's critical minds lend their assessment. The history of R-rated animation does not exactly provide us with ample samples for analysis - the magnificent South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), the defining animated film of my childhood, grossed $52 million domestically, while the luminous Heavy Metal (1981) seems to have taken in roughly half that. And for R-rated animation... that's about it. Sausage Party may easily beat those records.

Opening weekend: $20 million / Total gross: $49 million


4. War Dogs (August 19th)
Originally titled The Arms & The Dudes (and who even knows what that means?), War Dogs seems to have positioned itself as a kind of Mike and Dave need Grenade Launchers and AK-47s (and Wedding Dates, still). It is headlined by Miles [Teller] and Jonah [Hill], who seem just right to star in a buddy film about two real-life twentysomethings who embark on the traditional career path of arms dealers for the U.S. government (before their convictions for fraud and all the other icky conclusions that inevitably accompany such a story). The film is directed by Todd Phillips, helmer of Road Trip, Old School, and any and all Hangover films, and indeed Phillips mainstay Bradley Cooper surprises in some trailer appearances (he may well be in the film, too!). War Dogs is probably best marketed as a reasonably lunatic comedy, and in its madness may even win the weekend over its main competition, the more prestigious and dignified Ben-Hur.

Opening weekend: $18 million / Total gross: $48 million

5. Don't Breathe (August 26th)
In the naming tradition of Don't Go in the House or Don't Answer the Phone, this instructively-titled thriller comes with a more intriguing premise, about a group of truant teenagers who decide to rob the residence of an apparently harmless blind man, and who then get more or less what is coming to them. Don't Breathe is helmed by Fede Alvarez, who directed the Evil Dead remake, and stars two recent horror veterans, Dylan Minnette (of the Goosebumps film) and Jane Levy (who was in the aforementioned Evil Dead redo, and made it out more or less alive). Don't Breathe received raves when it premiered at South by Southwest earlier this year, and has maintained an upbeat Rotten Tomatoes score in the early 80s since. Lights Out, another under-the-radar horror film, rode a similar marketing campaign consisting of reviews and buzz to a very strong open, and Don't Breathe might be able to do just about same, especially on what looks like a fairly slow end-of-summer weekend or two, with little encroaching competition (the days when Final Destination 4 opened on the same August weekend as Halloween 2 are long behind us).

Opening weekend: $17 million / Total gross: $45 million

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