July Forecast

By Dan Krovich

July; four weeks, four sequels (and no, K-19 is not a sequel to K9, though it may be a dog). Studios love to stick with the safe bets and known products, so beyond the sequels, there are two other movies based on television shows, one other on a comic book...er, graphic novel, and one other on a popular amusement park attraction. In what's already been an amazing year at the box office, July looks to continue the trend with some huge opening weekends and blockbuster grosses.

10. Halloween: Resurrection ($40 million)

Jason X may have signaled that audiences have grown tired of the endless slasher genre, at least for now. Halloween: Resurrection does have elements that make it a more promising entry, namely Jamie Lee Curtis. Halloween: H20 made $55 million in 1998, and I'll go again with the old standby 70% of the last movie.

9. Like Mike

Lil' Bow Wow and a bevy of NBA players making cameos bring the story of an orphan who finds a pair of sneakers that give him the ability to play with the best professional players in the world to the screen. Kids like to watch kids make fools of adults, and this should provide a fun summer diversion for them and may not look too painful for their parents to sit through as well. Lil' Bow Wow looks to be the latest music star to make a successful transition to the big screen.

8. Eight Legged Freaks ($60 million)

This entry into the studio budget-level B-movie genre looks to hit all the right notes. That's a good thing and a bad thing. It seems to catch the spirit of the genre by providing some action thrills, but also by embracing the cheesiness inherent in these movies. Of course, to those who are not connoisseurs of the genre, cheesy is often considered a bad thing. With a cast that won't draw in audience members on their star-power alone, it will depend on whether people want to see giant spiders. Recent creature features have given mixed results, but these arachnids look to provide a moderate success.

7. The Country Bears ($80 million)

Disney has had good luck with mid-summer live-action films in recent years, including The Kid and The Princess Diaries. Based on the popular theme park attraction, Haley Joel Osment stars as the voice of a young bear who doesn't feel quite right with his human family. He sets out to find his place in the world and winds up becoming part of a rock/country band of bears. The basic plot is one that is popular with audiences of family films, but the mixing of humans with humans in bear suits might strike some as a bit odd and keep The Country Bears from breaking the $100 million mark.

6. K-19: The Widowmaker ($90 million)

It's Harrison Ford in a summer action thriller, so why do I have a sinking feeling that this submarine movie is going to underperform? Well, I suppose I could start with the trailer, which makes the movie look like a pretty dull thriller. In Ford's last big summer action film, Air Force One, he played an American president who is hijacked by Russians. This summer, he plays a Soviet submarine captain who must not only deal with potentially devastating technical difficulties, but also avoid touching off World War III. The power of Ford's bad Russian accent to keep audiences away can not be underestimated, but I'll put K-19 into the disappointing-but-not-quite-a-bomb category.

5. Reign of Fire ($135 million)

The first member of the list that isn't part of an already-established franchise makes up for that with a kick-ass trailer and commercials. Fast-paced action movies with good special effects are generally pretty good bets at the box office, and Reign of Fire looks to deliver the goods and become this year's The Fast and the Furious.

4. Austin Powers in Goldmember ($145 million)

Right off the bat, I should admit that I just don't get the appeal of Austin Powers. In fact, I don't think there's been a good Mike Myers movie that hasn't co-starred Dana Carvey. However, there's no arguing with the fact that the sequel opened bigger than the total box office of the original, and ended up with over $200 million at the box office. I'm thinking (or maybe hoping) that people are growing somewhat tired of the character, and I'll go with the sequel pattern of making 70% of the previous movie in the series.

3. Stuart Little 2 ($160 million)

Stuart Little opened modestly during the 1999 holiday season and just kept going and going and going, ending with $140 million at the box office. The mouse's popularity has only grown during the time between the movies, and the sequel should perform even better. The pattern will be quite different as a summer release, however, so look for Stuart Little 2 to have a huge opening weekend, defeating Harrison Ford, and wind up as the number-three July release (and if people do decide to avoid the darker Perdition in the summer months, it may ultimately only trail Men in Black II).

2. Road to Perdition ($200 million)

Tom Hanks has been batting 1.000 for what seems like an eternity now. Even a movie that consisted mostly of him alone on an island made over $200 million. So, while Road to Perdition doesn't scream "summer movie", I'll defer to Hanks. Besides, more adult dramatic films have been able to work as counter-programming, and there is certain to be a lot of early Oscar buzz around the film. It may not have quite the gaudy opening weekend that some of the more teen-oriented films have had, but it should be able to stand strong throughout the summer.

1. Men in Black 2 ($275 million)

Though it has been five years since the first Men in Black movie, the franchise has remained in fans' minds through merchandise, videogames, and an animated television series. The original movie made an inflation-adjusted $294 million at the box office, raising the possibility that Men in Black II could become the third movie of 2002 to cross the $300 million barrier. Will Smith has tried to expand his range with more dramatic roles recently, resulting in some un-Will Smith-ian box office performances, but audiences have shown that they're willing to come back when a star returns to a type of role for which they're more known (see Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Men in Black II also has the advantage of opening over the long Independence Day holiday, AKA "Big Willie Weekend", which means it should easily cross the $100 million milestone in its first weekend.

  • Read Tim Briody's July forecast
  • Read Kim Hollis' July forecast
  • Read Reagen Sulewski's July forecast



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