June 2005 Forecast
By John Seal
1. Batman Begins
The latest re-imagining of the legend of enigmatic playboy Bruce Wayne (this time minus live-in 'buddy' Dick Grayson) looks to revert to the noir style popularized by Tim Burton before Joel Schumacher returned Batman and Robin to their comic book roots. Of course, I'm the only person in the world who actually LIKED 1997's Batman and Robin, so this doesn't strike me as particularly good news, and the confusing trailer for Batman Begins hasn't impressed me, either. The choice of Christopher Nolan to direct is, of course, a promising sign, the casting of the bland Christian Bale quite the opposite. (No one will ever replace Adam West in my heart, and Christian, you are no Adam West.) The supporting cast is superb, however, with Michael Caine, Tom Wilkinson, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, and Cillian Murphy on hand. Bottom line: as with last month's Revenge of the Sith, I'm obliged to see it, as are you. Quality will have very little to do with the success of this Warner Bros' tent-pole release.
2. Mr. & Mrs. Smith
I dislike both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, thereby assuring that Mr. & Mrs. Smith will be a massive box office success. The trailer actually does a pretty good job of selling this as Spy Kids for grownups, and it looks like a hit with appeal across a wide range of demographics. Penned by the screenwriter of XXX: State of the Union, who also served as script doctor for both Elektra and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Mr. & Mrs. Smith unsurprisingly bears no relationship to the Alfred Hitchcock romantic comedy of the same name.
3. Herbie: Fully Loaded
Lindsay Lohan takes on week two of Hilary Duff's The Perfect Man, and is the result really in doubt? The mighty Disney marketing department will bring the kiddies out for this one, and their parents (who, of course, grew up watching The Love Bug in his original incarnation) will be tagging along.
4. Cinderella Man
We seem to be in the midst of a minor boxing movie renaissance, and though I wouldn't normally bet against the prospects of either Russell Crowe or Ron Howard, I have to wonder if audiences may have had enough uplifting, up by the bootstraps fisticuffs for one year courtesy Million Dollar Baby. The presence of Paul Giamatti and Paddy Considine in the supporting cast underlines, however, the impressive quality of the film's Academy Award breeding stock. Of course, I convinced myself that Kingdom of Heaven was an awards shoo-in, too, and it turned out to be a disaster of epic proportions. Cinderella Man should be a solid if unspectacular performer at the box office, but it won’t go the full twelve.
5. The Honeymooners
Hmmm. Another ancient TV series gets a big budget makeover. Can the Charles In Charge movie be far behind? At least The Honeymooners' screenwriters (all five of them!) wisely didn't stray too far from the series' original premise—besides, of course, changing the ethnicity of its working class characters. On the other hand—five screenwriters?!? It's probably going to be a dud, but African-American ensemble pictures have been hot for a while now, and it should do solid business for a few weeks.
6. Land of the Dead
The only film I'm genuinely excited about this month, Land of the Dead is George Romero's newest zombie epic, arriving in cinemas a mere 20 years after the unfairly reviled Day of the Dead saw mankind reduced to subterranean survival in a Miami bunker. I’m prepared for disappointment, but there's no way I'm going to miss this sequel, and I suspect I’m not the only fanboy feeling that way. It's been a long wait for Dead fans, and bar House of Wax the horror audience hasn't had much on their plate of late, so I predict a big opening—at least big enough to rival the opening of last year's surprisingly not terrible Dawn of the Dead remake.
7. The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D
Wisely counter-programmed against Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the latest film from director Robert Rodriguez looks to build on the success of the director's critically slammed Spy Kids 3-D. Personally, I enjoyed all of the Spy Kids series, even that headache-inducing final entry featuring Sly Stallone, but the trailer for this film is mediocre at best. I don’t see Shark Boy and Lava Girl being a massive hit, but Rodriguez always delivers a quality product on a low budget. Dimension Films should be happy with the results regardless.
8. The Perfect Man
Time for the Hilary Duff Express to come off the tracks, I think. The presence of small screen regular Heather Locklear guarantees failure for this Universal rom-com.
9. Lords of Dogtown
Dude! This drama, apparently inspired by the success of the 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, looks totally bogus! This bro is gonna stay home and watch 1978’s Skateboard again instead. The first big bomb of the summer season.
10. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
If a cumbersome title ensured box office success, this would be the number one film this month. In the reality-based world, of course, only hardcore film geeks such as myself remember previous contestants such as Don't Worry We'll Think of A Title and Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? A Wednesday opening isn’t going to help Sisterhood, and these pants will soon to traveling to your local video rental outlet.
11. High Tension
Don't expect much in the way of box office receipts despite this film's wide release from Lions Gate—films that sound like a cross between Michael Hanecke's Funny Games and Robert Fuest's And Soon the Darkness generally don't generate a lot of interest in Middle America. Could have had a long run on The Deuce, but The Deuce doesn’t exist anymore.
Mmm, a new French bedroom farce. Apres vous? Non, non, après VOUS!
The Bridge at San Luis Rey
I suppose we should be pleased that Robert de Niro has taken the time to make a 'serious' film again. Here he plays a South American Archbishop at tenterhooks with an inquisitive priest (Gabriel Byrne). Not sure if this was the best way to get back into the quality picture business, but it’s a start.
Howl's Moving Castle
Penciled in as a limited release, it wouldn't surprise me to see Hayao Miyazaki's latest animated epic expand to near wide status. Spirited Away proved there was quite a large audience for anime in the United States, and there's no reason to believe Howl’s Moving Castle can't duplicate the success of that film. It's not my cup of tea, but judging from the response to the film’s trailer, it's going to play for months on the art-house circuit and also have an impact at the local 'plex.
March of the Penguins
Cute and cuddly, yes? This penguin documentary will no doubt draw some audience runoff from last month’s Madagascar. Fans of Winged Migration, the line starts to the left.
This one's been on the shelf for a couple of years. Why it's earned a release on the arthouse circuit at this point is unclear, but the decision makers in Hollywood, Florida know what they’re doing, right?
My Summer of Love
Lesbian lovers on a motorcycle rampage! Sounds like director Paul Pavlikovsky got his idea from the collective consciousness of the BOP staff. And hello! Here’s Paddy Considine again, playing a loonie—again!
This made in Belgium thriller sounds like a Low Countries take on Deliverance, with expensive, hand-crafted chocolates replacing the hog snouts and chitlins featured in its progenitor. Bon appetit!
Michael Bentley's June Preview
Marty Doskins's June Preview
John Hamann's June Preview
Dan Krovich's June Preview