Weekend Forecast for June 16-18, 2017
By Reagen Sulewski
June 15, 2017
A good sign of the end of the early summer movie season is the move away from single films that dominate the weekends to a shotgun approach to the release slate, trying to give something to every demographic. There's still a strong favorite for the weekend, but it's a fairly packed one.
The first ever miss for Pixar came with Cars 2, a rather naked play for merchandising money, turning the well-meaning if just average sports movie with a message into a giant mess of a spy thriller parody with anthropomorphic cars, in a universe that makes absolutely no sense unless it's the aftermath of Maximum Overdrive. It was Pixar acceding to its basest instincts, including promoting sidekick character Mater to lead, a decision that would make as much sense as a new Star Wars film entitled “Revenge of the Jar-Jar.” It was, at the time, their most disappointing box office performer ever (granting a bit of a leash to A Bug's Life, and though it's since been surpassed in that regard by The Good Dinosaur), which may have forced a bit of soul-searching. This weekend Cars 3 arrives in a bit of “back to basics.”
Lightning McQueen is now the seasoned veteran of the racing circuit instead of the hot-shot rookie of the first film, but when he suffers a tremendous accident (hinted at in the unexpectedly dark teaser trailer), he's forced to return to his training in order to get back to the sport he loves. Meanwhile, a young female racer is attempting to break a barrier in the Cars world by making it to the top of the podium herself, under McQueen's tutelage.
A good bunch of the original Cars voice cast returns, and is supplemented by Kerry Washington, Nathan Fillion Jennifer Lewis and Armie Hammer as the new big thing on the block, though there's no Paul Newman in the bunch to lend this the authority and prestige he could (Chris Cooper makes his best level attempt at this). Instead, it's a nice enough but formulaic film with astounding technology, and which pitches itself at some of the youngest audiences that Pixar can conceivably go for. This should bounce back (at least critically) from the bizarre misfire of Cars 2, although the opening weekend may not improve on that five year old mark of $66. Indeed, it should probably come in around $58 million or so.
Female-driven comedy takes another shot at it this weekend with Rough Night, a bit of a Bridesmaids/Hangover/Very Bad Things mashup, starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell and Ilana Glazer (of Broad City). At Johansson's bachelorette party in Miami, things quickly go off the rails with the death of the stripper they hire for entertainment. Panic sets in quite quickly.
Leading with raunch and bacchanalia, it looks like a pale imitation of some of those films previously mentioned. McKinnon is a comedy savant and likely the best thing about the movie by far, but it's Johansson who the film relies on for selling power – strange, since she's generally not considered much of a comedic presence (SNL aside) on film. Reviews are... okay, but there's not a lot to the trailers that point to brilliance, and I think this will fall on the lower side of recent female led comedies, with about $19 million this weekend.