August 2017 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
August 3, 2017
2. Annabelle: Creation (August 11th)
As every horror film fan knows, Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to a prequel and the fourth in The Conjuring series, technically.
To recap, in my tiresome yet necessary manner, the history that brought us here: The Conjuring, set in the 1970s, opened in July 2013 and became one of the biggest straightforward horror films of the decade, grossing $137 million and inspiring fear and terror among its heavily teenage attendees. Even in a supporting role, Annabelle, the film's unfriendly and haunted wooden doll, received such adoration from audiences so as to get her own film, named after, of course, herself, and released even before The Conjuring 2 (which I would rank as the best in the series, by the way).
In that Annabelle prequel, the doll terrorized newlyweds in the heady days of the 1960s, and in this film, set maybe 30 years before, she begins her journey towards malfeasance in the cornfields of the American midwest, in the dark of night. Annabelle wasn't as well-liked as the mainline Conjurings, but it did pretty well for itself in October 2014, opening with $37 million and totaling at $84 mil. So, as my favorite genre dictates, another film was inevitable, and indeed this is the kind of horror entertainment whose poster imagery seems naturally appealing to me: characters move through stark outdoorsy clearings in 1930s America, while the ghosts of their empty mansions rise from the darkness around them.
David F. Sandberg, a Swedish director most recently of Lights Out, takes the reigns here, and presumably knows how to work a good scare. Indeed, this is a film whose box office chances can not be written off, tempting as that could be, because Annabelle: Creation has thus far received glowing reviews, a situation reminiscent of Ouija: Origin of Evil, a prequel film released last fall that proved a solid horror entertainment, far superior to its predecessor in every way. Ouija 2 only halved the box office of its original, but I think Annabelle 2 can keep up pace. Without the hearty approval from Rotten Tomatoes, I could have seen Annabelle: Creation gross half of what I'm predicting. Its nascent quality makes it a contender to win the month.
Opening weekend: $31 million / Total gross: $83 million
3. The Dark Tower (August 4th)
Stephen King has been writing Dark Tower books, more fantasy than horror, since the early 1980s, and their fans have been dreaming of a film version for more or less that long.
The Dark Tower casts Idris Elba as The Gunslinger, while Matthew McConaughey plays The Man in Black (also known as the very bad man). Their careers meet in the middle. By now, Elba is a hardened science fiction veteran, having blazed through Pacific Rom, Thor, and Star Trek, among many others, while McConaughey's 2010s-era resurgence as a respected dramatic actor (I know there's a word for that, but I refuse to use it) has seen him mostly appear in earthbound dramas, not expensive genre fare (other than Interstellar). Tom Taylor plays the protagonist, the teenage boy who finds himself launched into that space that all teenage boys do in films like this, fulfilling their destiny as the decisive focal point between good and evil (no wonder we all developed such high self-esteem). McConaughey insists that a prophecy says the boy will die by his hand, Elba dissents from this position, and they proceed to discharge their firearms at each other until one has been sufficiently killed; though Elba of course has the advantage because he says he is firing with his heart, rather than his hand, his fingers, or any other organs that may be connected to a gunslinger's love of his craft.