Weekend Forecast for August 3-5, 2018

By Reagen Sulewski

August 3, 2018

Are they having a clandestine meeting?

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August jumps feet first into being August with its first slate of movies that let us know quite well that blockbuster time is over. One decently marketable property is in the mix here from a major studio, but this has a very “forgotten February or October” weekend feel to it.

Disney comes out swinging, sort of, with Christopher Robin, another effort to bring its IP into the live action world, albeit with a bit of a twist here. A grown up Christopher Robin, in a boring workaday job and with a young family, is visited by his childhood companions, Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, etc (yeah, you heard me) who help Teach Him A Valuable Lesson. In a slight twist on these imaginary friend stories, everyone else can actually see Winnie et. al. speak and move as well, which at least removes about 50 percent of my annoyances with the concept.

This is a very fictionalized version of Robin as played by Ewan McGregor, who as the son of the author of A.A. Milne was notably resentful of the book series and probably the least likely dude to be receptive to a bunch of cute talking animals that were going to fix his life, but Disney owns this and gets to do what they want with it so OK. Hayley Atwell stars as his wife, with Marc Forster directing, who's covered this kind of magical literary realism before with Finding Neverland. This also shares a little bit of DNA with the Paddington movies, which are an unreserved balm of optimism. That's certainly an appropriate tack for a kid's film, although this one is going for a little broader audience. The moral of “adults need play time too” isn't likely to resonate that well with kids, who will just like seeing live action mayhem with the Pooh characters.

Uncharacteristically for Disney, though, it's been held back from reviews, which is the Scarlet Lack of a Letter for films on their release date. For Disney, that's doubly worrying, though in their case it could just mean “it's not as good as we hoped” instead of “it's a stinker”. Still, that's a major weapon they haven't been able to use in the promotion of the film. Overall, it looks inoffensive enough and it has the right branding, but there's enough warning bells here for me to say this underperforms with around $26 million this weekend.

Female buddy comedy comes out to play with The Spy Who Dumped Me, starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon as friends to travel to Europe in pursuit of Kunis' ex, only to find themselves in the middle of international intrigue when they discover that he (Justin Theroux) was a spy. Wackiness and hijinks ensue.

Surprisingly, this is not from the Paul Feig/Ben Falcone factory of female led action films but comes from first time studio director Susanna Fogel, best known for a two-season TV show about cancer. Good times. Kunis and McKinnon seem like they could have a pretty good chemistry, with McKinnon's high-wire energy playing well against Kunis' straight woman. Reportedly not stingy on the action, it's much more the comedy that's going to be the driving factor in this film's success or lack thereof. Kunis hasn't really done much with a couple of starring roles – Bad Moms was a minor hit but that proved fleeting – while McKinnon remains a comedic whirlwind that no one can really seem to figure out how to utilize.

Reviews are middling, which is going to keep it hemmed in – solid critical support can send a film like this into Breakout Land like Spy, or kill it dead like Knight and Day. It doesn't look truly dreadful though, so should manage to come in with around $16 million.

Hollywood is still hoping to find the next pearl in the field if YA oysters, this weekend going with The Darkest Minds, the plot of which reads like a parody you'd make of a rather hammer-obvious book. After a cataclysmic event, all of the world's children are either dead or invested with strange, scary powers, leading the governments of the world to fear everyone under 18 and lock them up or otherwise control them. Subtext? The hell you say! Anyway, some children escape and go on the run to build their own society, all while being chased by authorities that don't understand them. Again, I have no idea where you're getting these subtext calls from.




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Amandla Stenberg, probably best known as Rue from The Hunger Games (and about to break out in The Hate U Give, but that's little help here), stars as one of the most powerful teens with a grab bag of plot convenient powers, with a bunch of mostly unknown hunks of meat as the kid co-stars. Meanwhile, for the adults, Mandy Moore, Bradley Whitford (as President Gray, which is a totally different idea from President Snow what are you even) and Gwendoline Christie anchor the adult roles. Jennifer Yuh Nelson directs in her first live action attempt after taking on the second and third Kung Fu Panda movies. Arguably the biggest push is coming from the connection with Shawn Levy, producer of Stranger Things, but that's a pretty thin limb to hang your swing from. This feels like something in the lower tier of YA adaptations, like Push or I Am Number Four, and should debut with about $10 million.

Convicted felon, hypocrite, denier of history and all around terrible person Dinesh D'Souza has another one of his mind-bogglingly insane propaganda documentaries coming out, called Death of a Nation, which has its usual fever dream logic attached. While his last couple of films have done shockingly good business for documentaries, will that rage he's trying to harness still be effective in the age of Trump? A random scan of Twitter would seem to say yes, but it's harder [to work up agita when your side controls all branches of government and still seems to think it's powerless. I'd expect a smaller run than the past couple of his films, opening to $3 million.

A major expansion this weekend is Eighth Grade, comedian Bo Burnham's opus to adolescence. Focusing on a teenaged girl trying to survive her last week before high school, it's an acne-and-all stare directly into the heart of modern teen life. Having earned about $3 million in three weeks of quite limited release, it's jumping to 1,000+ venues with a giant bucket of hype and praise in hand. I'd look for a weekend of about $4 million here.

Unless Christopher Robin exceeds expectations, it should be another weekend win for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which opened to a series-best $61 million. As it's run on, the M:I series has gained a lot of grudging respect for its straight-forward, clear action along with its byzantine plots. We should see the typical franchise drop here, to around $29 million.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again showed none of the legs its first entry did, dropping by more than half, showing that the multiple viewings the premise threatened aren't going to materialize. Weekend three should see about $8 million. The Equalizer 2 was even more of that, dropping by over 60 per cent in its follow-up weekend, and it should see just $7 million this frame. Hotel Transylvania 3 suffered a bit in its third weekend, but it's still got a chance to be the highest grossing film of the series, provided it can have a solid weekend here. I'd expect $6 million.

The deep roster of returning films continues with two more animated offerings, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, and Incredibles 2, each of which should see around $5 million.


Forecast: Weekend of August 3-5, 2018
Rank
Film
Number of
Sites
Changes in Sites
from Last
Estimated
Gross ($)
1 Mission: Impossible - Fallout 4,395 +9 29.6
2 Christopher Robin 3,602 New 25.3
3 The Spy Who Dumped Me 3,111 New 14.5
4 The Darkest Minds 3,127 New 10.4
5 Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again 3,355 -159 8.4
6 The Equalizer 2 2,725 -663 7.1
7 Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 3,162 -843 6.9
8 Teen Titans Go! To The Movies 3,188 0 5.7
9 Incredibles 2 1,802 -814 5.2
10 Eighth Grade 1,084 +926 4.5

     


 
 

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