July 2006 Forecast
By Michael Bentley
July 7, 2006
1) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
After May and June, which saw some relatively close battles for the top opening salvos each month, July looks to have a runaway, no-question-about-it winner. Seriously, is there any doubt whatsoever at this point that Pirates 2 will be the top grosser for the year? Say what you want about the first one (personally, I think it's solid but highly overrated relative to popular opinion), it was a textbook example of a good summer movie. It had thrills, chills, laughs, a little romance, and even a couple scares. It was good for kids, teens, young adults, mom and dad, and perhaps even the grandparents. And it was an instant success in the home video market as well. Now the inevitable sequel is here, to be followed next summer by the third installment.
With full-on saturation advertising and close to universal awareness, many are wondering not just whether Dead Man's Chest will cruise past the $100 million mark its first weekend but how far past. Is Spider-Man's opening weekend of $114.8 million in jeopardy? Or perhaps even Revenge of the Sith's three-day mark (accomplished on a Thursday-Saturday) of $124.2 million? The former is quite possible, and I wouldn't be shocked by the latter either.
Opening weekend prediction: $109 million.
2) Miami Vice
You knew it had to happen eventually. Miami Vice was a 1980s television show standard for hip fashion and music. It was also a fun and sometimes riveting look at a pair of Miami police detectives. And it was very popular. The show is warmly remembered even today, as it was a major inspiration for the look, style, and storyline of mega-selling video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Certainly that fact played no small part in the decision to bring the show to the big screen. And now Michael Mann has come full-circle. Formerly an executive producer on the series, he is now the writer and director of this film adaptation. Replacing TV stars Don Johnson (as Detective Sonny Crockett) and Philip Michael Thomas (as Detective Rico Tubbs) are tabloid-fodder Colin Farrell and Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx.
The history of the TV-to-film genre is not a remarkable one, but for the most part is an embarrassing one. Most of the ones that were any good were tongue-in-cheek satires of the original show (see: The Brady Bunch Movie). But Mann has a good reputation behind him, and is certainly no stranger to the police drama. His Heat is considered one of the better films of the 1990s by some people. His last film, Collateral, might be a good comparison for Vice as it opened around the same time of year two years ago and also starred Foxx (though trade Farrell for pre-couch jumping Tom Cruise). That opened to just under $25 million. But it was also a darker film. With fans of the original show eager to see this, plus a three week gap since Pirates of the Caribbean without any explosive action movies, this could end up being the break-out hit of the summer. Or at least until Snakes on a Plane drops.
Opening weekend: $42 million.
3) Lady in the Water
M. Night Shyamalan has had really good marketing teams behind him. How else to explain why, after giving us one disappointing dud after another, people still continue to go to his movies in masse? His newest thriller Lady in the Water appears to be no different, as its trailer has created significant buzz and turned it into one of the summer's more anticipated outings. After studying dead people, an unusual superhuman, aliens, and then a mysterious group of village people, the director now has his sights set on... what? A mermaid or something else?
Shyamalan's quartet of studio films have done some remarkable business, though to varying degrees. The biggest one, The Sixth Sense, was the very definition of modern legs and stretched out a $26 million opening to nearly $300 million in total domestic grosses. The followup to that was Unbreakable, which didn't quite wow people as much, as turned $30 million into about $95 million. Signs and The Village had much bigger openings ($60 million and $50 million) but much different final results: well over $220 million for Signs but just $114 million for the latter. So which way will Lady in the Water go? Well, the appearance of critical darling Paul Giamatti and its spooky trailer will help. But my hunch is that it will still have a large opening but memories of the lackluster Village will dampen the figure somewhat. Where it goes after its debut is anybody's guess, but the century mark is close to a certainty.
Opening weekend: $40 million.
4) You, Me and Dupree
Last year Owen Wilson starred in the biggest comedy of the summer, The Wedding Crashers. This year he hopes to repeat that feat in You, Me and Dupree. He stars as the best man at a wedding who stays on as a houseguest of the newlyweds (Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson). It is supposed to be temporary, but ends up being much longer (and much more aggravating than they ever imagined). Can Wilson parlay the Vince Vaughn role into success? Its only opening competition, other than the second weekend of Pirates of the Caribbean, is Little Man.
Opening weekend: $33 million.
5) The Ant Bully
The Ant Bully is yet another CGI animated movie... and on top of that yet another CGI animated movie featuring bugs. Of course, in case if you don't remember, Pixar's A Bug's Life and DreamWorks' Antz were among the very first in this generation of animated pictures. This time though, a human being is a central character. Through a fateful turn of events, an "ant bully" gets reduced to ant-size a la Honey I Shrunk the Kids and is sentenced to hard labor in an ant colony.
And as with its predecessors, the voice cast is very impressive and will be a big selling point for many moviegoers. Leading the way are Oscar winners Nicolas Cage and Julia Roberts, as well as Paul Giamatti and the Devil herself Meryl Streep. That talent just might be enough to make it a win for Warner Bros., which is trying to break back into the animation business. Of course, it will help if the story is a good one, but with foreign revenues and DVD sales it should be a moneymaker nevertheless.
Opening weekend: $28 million.
6) My Super Ex-Girlfriend
There is another, but perhaps lesser-known, superhero movie due out this summer. Move along, X-Men and get out of the way Superman. Uma Thurman is G-Girl, who happens to be very needy and clingy when it comes to romantic relationships. So she gets dumped by her boyfriend (Luke Wilson), and this makes his life a living hell as she unleashes the full force of her powers on him in retaliation. The director is Ivan Reitman, who has manned a number of hits, including Ghostbusters and Kindergarten Cop. It could get crowded out by its main competitor opening weekend, Lady in the Water, not to mention Clerks II, but it looks really funny and that might just be enough. But more importanly, who will win the Battle of the Wilsons?
Opening weekend: $27 million.
7) Monster House
Are audiences tired of CGI animated films yet? While blockbusters like Ice Age 2 and Cars are still raking in big money, the latter could certainly be viewed as a disappointment and the cracks are definitely starting to show in smaller and less-marketed CGI films such as Hoodwinked and The Wild. Bucking the trend a bit away from talking bug and creature movies, Monster House is described as a "family horror" film, and was filmed using similar motion-capture techniques as Robert Zemeckis used in The Polar Express. The story is about three kids who discover that a neighbor's house is actually a real live monster. And of course none of the adults believe them. It sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but the whole animated horror concept is going to be a lot to overcome initially.
Opening weekend: $25 million.
8) Little Man
As surprising as it might seem, the Wayans family - including stars Shawn and Marlon and director Keenan Ivory - have been some of the more consistent box office draws in recent years. In fact, a recent article in Entertainment Weekly magazine put their combined domestic totals at over one billion dollars! Little Man is about one man is eager to have a child. He mistakes a baby-faced adult for a child and adopts him. The (other) problem is that the man-child is actually a fugitive on the run from the law.
The best comparison film for Little Man is another farce, White Chicks, also a Shawn-Marlon-Keenan vehicle, which debuted in late June of 2004. It managed a nearly $20 million opening before leaving theaters with a very respectable $70 million. Hollywood still hasn't seemed to figure out that there is a lucrative urban demographic that is eager to see movies too, as the market is still underserved. Little Man should cruise to similar results.
Opening weekend: $18 million.
9) Clerks II
Back in 1994, the super-low budget, black & white, independent film Clerks became one of the Sundance Film Festival's great successes and went onto become a cult hit. That was way before side characters Jay and Silent Bob managed to get their own movie, and before writer and director Kevin Smith started making smarmy, critically-reviled films featuring Jennifer Lopez. But now the long awaited follow-up to Clerks is finally upon us. It is no longer in black & white, no longer super-low budget, and it's no longer honest to call a Weinstein Co. film "independent." Clerks II will most likely best the total domestic run of the original ($3.1 million) by sometime in the early evening of its opening day. Beyond that, Smith's future credibility may very well rest on the quality of this project.
Opening weekend: $17 million.
10) John Tucker Must Die
In this film, clearly aiming for the unpredictable teen and pre-teen girl market, three girls realize they are all dating the same boy (Jesse Metcalfe of Desperate Housewives) who is a star basketball player and the most popular kid in his school. They team up to get revenge on him. Their sinister plan? To get him to fall in love with a new girl in school and then have her dump him (thus, breaking his heart). I bet I can guess how it ends.
Opening weekend: $12 million.
Just Under the Radar
A Scanner Darkly
Based on a story from sci-fi legend Philip K Dick, A Scanner Darkly is the newest film from Richard Linklater. Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, and Robert Downey Jr., this head trip was created using the technique of rotoscoping where the scenes were all shot in live action and then traced over and animated.
Little Miss Sunshine
An audience sensation at Sundance, Little Miss Sunshine is what BOP's Dan Krovich calls "the funniest movie in years." A family takes a road trip in a VW Bus to get their ten-year-old daughter into a beauty pageant. The 40 Year-Old Virgin's Steve Carell co-stars.
This tale looks at the story of a female assassin (Helen Mirren) who is diagnosed with a terminal disease and decides to carry out one final killing, along with her lover and stepson. The cast also includes Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (try saying that with a straight face).
* Please note that all opening weekend estimates are preliminary and do not account for final screen counts.