June 2018 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

June 1, 2018

When Dr. Ian Malcolm shows up, the world is usually in trouble.

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The two biggest films of June 2018 seem to have been chiseled into stone with certainty (yes, dinosaurs and superheroes...), and so their triumph is not under debate, only which contender will tussle down the other. More of the fun is in what follows - will the new Ocean's film take its expected slot at number three, or will an upstart horror story best it on its own weekend? Elsewhere, comedies, drug wars, and the cold, merciless ocean blue all aim to persuade away the blockbuster dissenters among us.

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22nd)
Although its box office performance seems positively quaint all these years later, 2015's Jurassic World opened with 208 million dollars and finished with 652. The fourth film in its franchise, it was released on nearly the same weekend (June 12) as its successor, and is the film that must in retrospect be seen as the harbinger of the apocalypse, total doom! the recent trend of mega-box office grosses - films that seemed, in swift succession, to gallop easily to once absurd-seeming total grosses, like $900m (The Force Awakens), $700m (Black Panther, any day now), the ever-present $600m (The Last Jedi, Avengers 3), and even a handful of $500m-aires, a rare box office peak, once reserved to The Dark Knight only, but recently filled also by Beauty and the Beast, Rogue One, and, I assume, by whatever was the latest Paul Thomas Anderson movie. The geopolitically-minded among us may also recall June 12, 2015, as having been four days before you-know-who- commenced their presidential run, so it is a date that should be given some historical evaluation.

Jurassic World played on nostalgia by millennials and the like-minded who sat in wonder through the original films, which gave the world big, life-like nearreal dinosaurs on screen for the first time (though Mecha-Godzilla came close). The first two were among the definitive blockbusters of the 1990s (finishing with $357m and then $229m - yes, this was impressive when the world was young), and the third was a reasonable entertainment in the B-movie summer of 2001, finishing among the season's bigger earners, with $181m and a little change. And so Jurassic World drew on the combination of fond or quasi-fond memories of cinema past, and on the promise of finally seeing the Jurassic Park operate as, well, a park, open for business and remarkably cost-unprohibitive. Oh, and it starred Chris Pratt, a man who turned out to be so commercially viable that, as a magnet, he sucks up dollar bills off the pavement merely by walking down the street, and draws maximum security vaults creaking closer just by standing next to a bank (2019 should mark his sixth consecutive year of $100m earners. He says, You're welcome, America).

Much of that heady background is not with us in 2018, when Jurassic World 2 arrives, although Pratt is still here, as is his co-star, a trooper named Bryce Dallas Howard, who has quietly built up a solid resume of blockbusters of her own over the years (she's a sampler of pop films - Spider-Man 3, Terminator 4, Twilight 3, and so on. Oh, and The Help!). In the 2015 film, the pair barely fled the park with their lives, and along with some errant children, and must return to the island under the command of a new and totally persuasive set of reasons (if you've seen The Lost World, this development shouldn't seem implausible this time out, either).

There are new errant minors this time, as well, represented by Justice Smith (soon to star in, but not as, Detective Pikachu), an age group that in these films always has considerably more longevity than the newly assembled groups of character actors, including Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine this time.

There are considerations in terms of fan service, with the return of Jeff Goldblum's scientist Ian Malcolm, perhaps the most reasonable person in these films (cameos by the young stars of the 1993 film, Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards, would have been kind of cool). The direction is courtesy of J. A. Bayona, who has in his filmography moody and sad films like The Orphanage, The Impossible, and A Monster Calls, and who here should combine the disaster themes of the second film and the giant critter presence of the third. That any of the characters will require the services of an orphanage is certainly plausible.

Now, as a non-Marvel, non-Disney film in the year 2018, Jurassic World can practically be seen as an independent release, an underdog, and a come-from-behinder. It's real nice to see a big-budget special effects movie featuring human lead characters who possess no super powers they could not have acquired at their local gym (we'll forgive Pratt his other franchise). Returns for Deadpool and Han Solo may have been more modest than expected, and that may not or may actually help Jurassic World, which could be seen as the last really big live-action blockbuster of the summer movie season (the film opens on the second day of the actual summer, but that's the rules).

Opening weekend: $162 million / Total gross: $357 million

2. Incredibles 2 (June 15th)
While the rise of Pixar signaled the explosion of CGI animation, it seems the genre might be receding just a little from its 2005-2015 era high. In fact, making the brave assumption that Incredibles 2 will indeed cross the $100m mark (...eventually), it'll be only the first entirely-animated CGI film to do so this year; which means 2018 will be the first year since 2007 (!) where a $100m-grossing CGI title didn't open until the summer (I'm not counting March's Ready Player One as entirely animated, but wiser ones may disagree).

Going back on topic, if I must, The Incredibles (2004) was a gentle parody of the superhero mythos, and perhaps more specifically of the notion of a family of mega-powered individuals, at a time when such films had not yet forced us into glutton for punishment at every local cinema; at the time of its release, the comic book characters The Incredibles most resembled, the Fantastic Four, had not even carried their first theatrical film (although the idea that superhero films hadn't worn out their welcome by... 2004... is a matter of opinion).

Now, rested and ready for a long thirteen and a half years of temporary retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and their alarmingly grown children return to claim their stake, or stake their claim, as the fourth big superhero entry of the summer (or third, if you don't count the Avengers, which were dumped, off-season, on the last weekend of April, where films vanish into obscurity forever. Avengers was no exception).

Beyond these modestly interesting sociocultural observations, I have little to say about The Incredibles except that it seems to have fallen prey to my usual and insidious bias against animation, developed at the age of eleven after watching the animated series Spawn on HBO. So what I can say about Incredibles 2 is much of what I usually announce about the latest blockbuster animation sequel: the original cast returns (Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson), some new faces add their voice work (Isabella Rossellini, Catherine Keener... Roseanne was unavailable, sadly, so the film's release will go ahead as planned), important and adult themes shall be examined and placed under debate (fatherhood, for one), reviews are likely to be quite positive, although you never can tell these days, and tracking posits the film as opening at some haughty number, like $150 million dollars. It may just get there.

Opening weekend: $135 million / Total gross: $320 million

3. Hereditary (June 8th)
This is a horror film that has little going for it except luxuriously positive reviews, persuasive and clever marketing, and a release date that's just far enough removed from the last blockbuster that might favor the same audience.

Gabriel Byrne and Toni Collette star as respectable middle-class parents, Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro are their children, and members of this family unit began to find themselves the subject of supernatural occurrances upon the death of the children's grandmother, whose legacy ties in somehow to the film's genealogically-minded title. More than that, I do not know. But my interest is piqued.

Right now, the horror film scene is at one of its peak moments, ever, with no less than four traditional horror films having grossed at least $100m last year (It, Get Out, Split, and Annabelle: Creation - in that order!), arguably the most since 1999's run of The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, The Mummy, and Sleepy Hollow, three of which were carried by big movie stars. This year, A Quiet Place has already ridden off into the full moon with one of the biggest openings for a non-franchise horror film ($50 million), and has taken its slot among 2018's biggest films (with $181 million, right now it's fourth). Unless Hereditary is just too weird or something, it should have little problem adding to the deck.

Unlike some recent horror successes, the film does have the advertising conundrum of not possessing a plotline that's easily transmittable from person to person in one clear, unambiguous statement. "Grandma dies and weird s--t happens" may not be as catchy as "African-American man meets his girlfriend's sinister white family," "make a noise and monster will eat you," or "college co-ed relives the day of her murder until it's not." But maybe it doesn't have to be.

Opening weekend: $42 million / Total gross: $133 million

4. Ocean's 8 (June 8th)
A film that picks up the reigns of the movie stars-meet-high larceny franchise, in sweet hibernation since Ocean's Thirteen in 2007.

The original Ocean's Eleven, populated with members of the Rat Pack (Sintara and co.) opened in 1960 and was predictably set in Vegas; then Steven Soderbergh's retooled version transformed the idea into a modern-day blockbuster in the winter of 2001, with the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon cajoling on the big screen, in what perhaps can be seen as an early edition of an Avengers film (when you think about it, where else can you see so many A-list actors in one scene?). The 2001 version finished with a remarkable $183m, and the sequels totaled $125m and then $117m, and so perhaps it was not unexpected that a decade was allowed to pass before further star-studded heisting was considered. I have a petty beef with the title, though: by gathering only eight larceny-minded stars, the film's name sounds like a prequel (8 < 11).

No matter. The twist is that all eight of the misbehaving and illegality-prone leads are female (Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones were among the few ladies allowed in the original line-ups). Sandra Bullock stars as the inevitable Clooney sister, who teams with Cate Blanchett for her own dastardly scheme, recruiting along Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, the rapper Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson (you can use her full name, TV's Sarah Paulson), and Mindy Kaling, who was one of the mystical space celestials in A Wrinkle In Time, and who makes a second stab at a high-powered ensemble here.

The girls are robbing the Met Gala. Anne Hathaway, playing a film starlet, seems particularly the target of their ire, which is a little confusing, because the posters declare her as one of the eight. Unsatisfied by an acting career, does she turn to a life of crime?

The direction is by Gary Ross (of the first Hunger Games), and it's nice to see Bullock in her first big role since 2015. There's some anticipation and buzz for the film as a major thriller with an all-female cast. The film seems on paper like the natural #3 of June 2018, but there's a perhaps increasingly less off-hand chance, though, that it will be beaten by a horror film that's slowly pawing at its feet.

Opening weekend: $36 million / Total gross: $99 million




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5. Sicario: Day of the Soldado (June 29th)
Josh Brolin's third sequel in as many months, and a film that has a legitimate chance to outgross his other two. Perhaps combined.

Broad trolling aside, Sicario was a thriller about cross-border shenanigans, involving slightly outlawish/extrajudicialish agents of some mysterious organization battling Mexico's endless supply of drug runners and sadistic assassins (Sicario, as the film explained, is Spanish for both "hitman" and "chocolate cake"). Emily Blunt was really that film's star, though it was del Toro and Brolin who spent an awful lot of time shooting people, and so Blunt is absent here, perhaps reasonably (her character's ultimate purpose seemed to be signing Benicio del Toro's citizenship papers, under threat of gunfire).

Here, Brolin and del Toro, already on the more questionable side of the law, are let loose by the unnamed new president's (...) push for border retribution, taking on more cartels and avenging even more people in any way responsible for the deaths of del Toro's family members (if that plot thread sounds familiar from the first movie... well, a lot of people must have pulled that trigger on the man's wife and children. Apparently not all of them are dead yet).

Sicario was directed by acclaimed Canadian Denis Villeneuve with his by-now recognizable chilly efficiency, and was deposited on screens in the heart of awards season. The sequel, to its every credit, seems more like a conventional summer entertainment, with a hard-R rating, and, as topical as ever, guns blazing away and bad guys being sent packing to the other side by a pair of heroes who are themselves impervious to injury or sun irritation (well, their soft spot is a teenage girl, played by future live action Dora the Explorer star Isabela Moner, who shall be threatened at their behest).

Day of the Soldado has a clear enough landing space as the biggest apparent opener on June 29th; which, like the month's first release date, is a transition weekend between special effects blockbusters. The 29th's other wide release, the comedy Uncle Drew, stars a lot of basketball players, and Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, and Nick Kroll, and looks so weird I didn't must much of a forecast. I concede, however, that it could emerge triumphant over the Sicarios, and so the numbers below apply as a forecast to whichever of the two films they will most accurately predict.

Opening weekend: $20 million / Total gross: $54 million

6. Tag (June 15th)
This comedy with the brevity-minded title is not to be confused with the 1982 horror thriller Tag: The Assassination Game, a film that anyone seeing the marketing for this one will immediately harken back to, with fond memories and rose-colored nostalgia glasses. Where were you when you first saw 1982 Tag?

Tag 2018 is actually similar in premise, though lighter in nature, and with a cast of comedians and movie stars, probably aims for mid-June comedy successes, in the spirit of the ever-beloved Dodgeball. Its stars are Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, and the irreplaceable Ed Helms, as old friends who have been play-tagging each other for decades of mutual merriment and neverceasing joy. Their female leads include Isla Fisher, who's always recruited along on these endeavors, Gillian Jacobs, a television star increasingly and pleasingly transplanted to cinema, and Annabelle Wallis and Rashida Jones, who've both been relegated to playing the long-suffering significant other to some cocky bastard for way too long.

Buress is a comedian still perhaps more famous for his crime-busting skills (see Cosby, Bill), while Helms, lastly of Chappaquiddick, and Hamm, whose Beirut also opened in April, seem to move back and forth between drama and humor (with the latter's Baby Driver landing, and landing well, in between). Renner is not known as a comedy star; but he was funny in his cameo in last year's underrated The House, as a gangster who met an untimely and fiery end, and here, he takes on his first full-fledged comedic role in a long time. I welcome this career turn.

Opening weekend: $16 million/ Total gross: $52 million

7. Superfly (June 13th)
Assuming the Sicario sequel did not satisfy your appetite for violence and the drug war...
Well, that film is all about the trouble down at the border, and past it. But, assuming del Toro and Brolin failed to stop the suppliers, Superfly tackles the drugs once they've already safely on the American side.

Low humour aside, this action film is a reprise of the blaxploitation title from 1972, about a narcotics supplier who decides to seek gainful employment in another profession (does that often work out well?). Although I've seen any number of Shafts and Pam Grier vehicles, the original Superfly has somehow stayed off my beaten path, and so the biggest surprise for me is that Superfly isn't really the main character's given name.

While he may indeed by both super and fly in a descriptive sense, he is actually called Youngblood Priest (what's his middle name?). He was played Ron O'Neal in 1972, and in 2018 the role is taken by Trevor Jackson, a charismatic, slightly post-teenage actor (teenage adjacent), largely of television and musician, including some far-removed ventures at the Disney Channel. The film opens on the same weekend that set the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me to a respectable start last year ($26m), and is helmed by Director X, a legendary maker of music videos for just about every pop star known to man, and a few who should be.

Superfly's first weekend may be softened by a move to a Wednesday opening date, but it's nice to see a blaxploitation revival of sorts in the air: Shaft is back next year, with Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree still in tow. And yep. It's scheduled for the same weekend.

Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $38 million

8. Adrift (June 1st)
As June begins, gliding across the big screen once more is Shailene Woodley, the star of young adult blockbusters Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, seen most recently at the movies glancing supportively if acerbically at Edward Snowden avatar Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Oliver Stone's biography. In Adrift, she plays Tami Oldham, who survives a hurricane with her husband, and, stranded at sea, must find a way home.

There's a particular late 2010s tradition to maintain here. Blake Lively fended off one ornery shark while stranded on a cove (The Shallows, 2016), and then Mandy Moore and Claire Holt confronted several of the malnourished sharp-toothers down in the deepest waters (47 Meters Down, 2017). Now, it's Woodley's turn, as another strong female lead battling the elements in the midst of a natural water-bound catastrophe. She will not be facing off against sea beasts, at least not mostly.

Woodley takes the wheel while her character's husband is incapacitated. He is played by Sam Claflin, is a personable British actor who has quietly appeared in any number of blockbuster franchises (The Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even a Snow White film or two), but has retained some level of anonymity, for better or worse. So perhaps he will allow this as a real test of Shailene's star power, a simulation unencumbered by coming from a pre-established literary phenomenon or biographical portrait of a real-life scoundrel.

Adrift's direction is by Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns, and, more on the nose, Everest), the story is true (a Tami Oldham did go through it, in 1983, and is likely still kicking), and the film will likely be the most decisive opener in a weekend meant mostly as a transition from May's blockbusters to June's. Counterprogramming special effects with strong female leads (Breaking In, Book Club) has worked in the last few weeks, and will probably have its day in the sun again.

Opening weekend: $12 million/ Total gross: $35 million

9. Action Point (June 1st)
In the tradition of Ernest Goes Camp... yes?

Johnny Knoxville, an aimable vulgarian and experimenter in the creation, reception, and retention of human pain, stars in Action Point as the proprietor of an amusement park that has few rules and some possible basis in reality, I hope. He is aided in his admirable endeavors by a collection of character actors and oddballs, who engage in experimental rides, and fall subject to considerable doses of physical punishment. Rightly, it's a comedy.

Knoxville is not a frequent visitor to cinema screens, but when he does arrive, box office receipts tend to follow. As it turns out, every one of his Jackass films has grossed more than its predecessor, up to and including part 3, which opened with a somewhat offensive $50 million, and then easily crossed $100m, in October 2010. Knoxville then dressed up as an aging pervert in the semi-fictionalized comedy Dirty Grandpa, which arrived almost under the radar, opened to $32m, and then also went ahead and finished above $100m, three Octobers after Jackass 3. The film's existence wasn't really public until just about late July. It didn't matter.

So that's a hell of a record, even if Knoxville isn't viewed as a typical movie star. His Action Point will presumably have the same semi-improvised air, with gags and stunts dominating the runtime, and perhaps a plot about fighting to keep the park open against some purveyors of malfeasance who want it closed for nefarious reasons (what monster could take a stance against such an enterprise?).

The film arrives on that mid-level weekend, the first of June, where it should have a little room to grow among anyone seeking a broad comedy, after weeks of special effects pictures dominating the charts.

Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $34 million

10. Hotel Artemis (June 8th)
Hotel Artemis reads like a futuristic spin-off of the John Wick movies, which featured a high-class establishment where assassins and other denizens of the human underworld could rest their heads safely (at least on paper). Here, the hotel is more of a hospital, watched over with gracious fortitude by nurse and proprietor Jodie Foster, and populated with a re-assuring collection of villains, cast well with memorable faces, from Jeff Goldblumn's droll malevolence to Dave Bautista's stocky threat. Also among the inhabitants are Sofia Boutella, this decade's designed Mummy, along with Sterling K. Brown, Zachary Quinto, and Charlie Day, who always looks panicked, here perhaps with good reason.

So the film has an intriguing set-up and a cast to match, though its critical situation is not yet set. It seems like kind of a cult film in the making. Foster for her part has a sturdy resume, having returned to the screens with successful thrillers at almost even intervals (Contact, Panic Room, Flightplan, Inside Man, and so on; an impeccable knack for script-picking). Her most recent film part was as a malevolent bureaucrat in Elysium (2013), and her last set of real leading roles were The Brave One (2007) and Nim's Island (2008), reasonable performers but not breakouts. A potential comeback almost five years after her last go-around gives the film at least one more plus.

Opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $22 million


     


 
 

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