August Forecast

By David Mumpower

1. American Wedding

It's a shame that American Wedding's R-rated trailer can't be heavily marketed on network television, because that is where the money shot is. If you haven't seen it, when Alyson Hannigan's character, Michelle, is *ahem* under the table when Jim's Dad comes in and loudly gives away the surprise of Jim's intended proposal that evening. Perfectly keeping in tone with both the lewd nature of the first two films and the romantic undertone that has always set them apart from generic teen sex comedies, this is a home run advertisement. Fortunately, it was shown in front of several early year blockbusters, so it did get the word out. While it's a scary time to be releasing a sequel, I believe this one is bulletproof enough to make it a lock for the best of August.

2. Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday very much surprised me when I saw it in an audience with other people. While I found the movie charming and said so in my review, I certainly didn't find it to be the uproarious entertainment that so many of the surrounding patrons in the theater did. Part of the appeal for seeing a Disney classic is the universally broad humor involved, and this outing is distinctly strong in that regard. Freaky Friday has the added advantage of being timed well enough so that women who loved the original when they were girls sharing the movie with their mothers may now enjoy it with their daughters. Bridging the generation gap is a nice little cash cow, and this one's performance should be much closer to The Princess Diaries than to The Parent Trap re-make.

3. S.W.A.T.

Even cops dial 911. That's what the commercials have me believing, anyway. What cops apparently don't do is make movies that look in any way unique. If there is an intrinsic difference between S.W.A.T. and Bad Boys II's marketing campaigns, the disparity escapes me. And Colin Farrell is no Martin Lawrence at this point, much less a Will Smith. S.W.A.T. will have an opening weekend somewhere above Tomb Raider 2 but significantly less than Bad Boys II, and then it will flame out quickly like all 2003 action products not starring Johnny Depp have done.

4. Freddy vs. Jason

I might be way off on this one (and it certainly wouldn't be the first time thanks to Ice Age), but I think this combination of hugely popular cult icons offers the chance of a real opening weekend breakout. In a very weak month of August, it doesn't take much to reach the upper echelon of the top ten list, and a single spectacular three day total might be enough to sneak this one up there. The concept is certainly killer and the footage offers the promise of a genuinely kickass slasher flick. Plus, for the first time in either series, we really don't know what the finish will be as the humans and both bad guys seem to share relatively equal odds of survival. Under any circumstance, with regards to box office, I will certainly be there opening night as this one has been on my radar ever since it got the greenlight. Speaking as a movie lover, I want to offer up my personal thanks to New Line Cinema for making this one.

5. The Medallion

Jackie Chan needs a hit. I know that's an unexpected thing to hear, but if you take the Rush Hour franchise off his resume, his North American track record is very spotty. Despite the charm of the co-stars, the Shanghai films have only averaged $58 million and The Tuxedo was only a $50 million maker here as well. What he does have in his favor is that his international box office receipts are quite strong, but if he wants to establish himself as something other than comedic foil for Chris Tucker, The Medallion needs to be successful. This is the biggest Hong Kong production ever with regards to budget, so the pressure is even more intense, yet the film looks like generic Jackie Is Crazy/Jackie Beats 'Em Up so far. This should be a decent performer compared to the other titles mentioned above, but it certainly doesn't scream breakout box office.

6. My Boss's Daughter

Memo to Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore: see my comments about Ben and J-Lo. You're next.

After spending 17 consecutive weeks on the cover of People and Us Magazine, the marketing monolith that is Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore suffered a serious setback with the disappointment of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. The other Angels even turned against Moore for her egomaniacal and transparent attempts at press coverage, and the argument was offered more than once that North America is already past the point of saturation with the new It Couple...well, threesome if we throw in the creepy fact that Bruce Willis is always hanging around. In fact, I would like to proffer the theory that maybe the real couple is Kutcher and Willis and Demi is playing the beard here in order to boost herself back to the public spotlight as a good media whore should be expected to do. But I digress. The point is that Kutcher has unreasonably high recognition for a co-star of a Fox tv show, and that exposure may or may not have boosted the box office of Just Married a bit. Six months later, are we ready to write that off as a fluke or is it more likely that people have already turned against him? I'm on the fence about it, but I do think this movie looks quite amusing. With Kutcher having a lot of box office success in comedy already, this one looks like a solid performer.

7. Jeepers Creepers II

My God in Heaven, did Jeepers Creepers ever suck. To witness a disgrace like that, we are generally forced to watch a Cincinnati Bengals or NY Mets game, but there it was for all of the movie going world to see. How bad did I hate it? See for yourself here. Despite the suckitude though, one thing it did do well was make some money. With a tiny budget and an unexpectedly strong Labor Day weekend performance, the movie was a minor sleeper hit in 2001. Since even the lousiest performing horror films get sequels, a second movie was always an eventuality, and the optimist's point of view about another Jeepers Creepers movie is that things can only get better. A worse film is a mathematical impossibility, so there's nowhere to go but up with a second title. Even in a summer of sequel dud after sequel dud, we're looking at a movie which should at least match the performance of the original if not exceed it slightly. And the trailers are again hot. If only the guy editing the commercials were given a shot at directing the movie, we'd really have something.

8. Uptown Girls

Uptown Girls stars acting savant Dakota Fanning's vocal work as narrator in Taken was so stunning that it already gives her a back-up career plan if the thespian thing doesn't work out. Since she has all the earmarks of being the next Haley Joel Osment, though, I don't think that's a concern. Perfectly placed here with charmingly immature Brittany Murphy, this is exactly the type of odd couple casting which offers the possibility of great chemistry. The movie could just as easily suck, but what I have seen so far of it has me thinking they've gotten it right. The premise is almost exactly the same as the Ally Sheedy disaster Maid to Order, but the presence of Fanning should allow this one to rise above the morass and possibly even build up some word-of-mouth along the way. The rumored small venue count opening weekend is a huge concern, though.

9. Open Range

Hating Kevin Costner should be an Olympic sport. While Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck find themselves squarely in the face of public ridicule right now, they would have to experience constant backlash for the next several years to truly appreciate what it's like to be Crash Davis. Despite the fact that he has five flawless films on his resume in Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, No Way Out, The Untouchables and Dances with Wolves, Costner's failures are the stuff of myth and legend, so is the subject of constant abuse. Open Range already has that working against it AND it's a western. A two hour and 20 minute western. Wouldn't you love to see the looks on the faces of Touchstone Marketing's team the day they were told what their next project was? It's the all-time impossible sell. Still, having the Disney arm supporting your film is a very solid asset, and the pedrigree of the acting talent involved (Robert Duvall and Annette Bening co-star) means Open Range at least has a chance. Not a good one, though.

10. Gigli

What is the sound of one train wrecking? Gigli. Facing unprecedented bad buzz the likes of which hasn't been witnessed in a movie theater since Madonna was Swept Away, this is the perfect example of a one and done movie. After opening weekend, it will have the legs of Verne Troyer. What little portion of the audience won't be swayed by the horrific reviews will instead be swayed by their friends, the ones who are somehow suckered in this weekend, to point and laugh rather than pulling out their wallets and offering up eight bucks to the false idol known as Bennifer. There was once a maxim in Hollywood that there is no such thing as bad publicity. In 2003, we now know that this is not a truism, and that bad buzz can sink anything from a giant green Hulk to a Real World knockoff movie to an American Idol big screen adaptation. North American audiences are a lot more savvy than cynics often paint them as being, and Gigli is going to be DOA. I honestly don't believe bloodthirsty people were as excited by the deaths of Saddam Hussein's children as they are to see Affleck and Lopez's movie die a brutal death.

  • Read Marty Doskins' August forecast
  • Read John Hamann's August forecast