Well, I’ve decided to begin a new series of posts where every weekend, I will look at what’s about to come a year later on the exact same weekend, and start making guesses on how much those films will make. Then, next year, I’ll look back at this very post and laugh if it’s way off the mark, or pat myself on the back if it comes really close. The point of this is- it’s not going to be accurate, but its going to be fun to see how close I get. And you get, since I’m reminding you of the film’s very existence.
But before beginning, lets take a look back at some of the years past. This weekend hasn’t been one devoid of blockbusters in the past, though you gotta say that Warner Bros. kind of owns this weekend. Just like how Marvel always gets the first weekend of May, Warner Bros. has dominated this weekend for 5 of the past 7 years since 2008, with the might of the Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, Harry Potter or surprisingly, once with a horror movie, though we got to say that their attendance is unaccounted for this year, instead giving way for Marvel to once again. I got to say that they won’t be making a triumphant return next year, instead preferring to launch their franchise hopeful King Arthur on the weekend after this at the same period next year, but lets talk more about that next week. Regarding 2014 as a sort of anomaly, this weekend has generally gravitated towards being massive, having a wide range of $171-224 million top 12 grosses (2014 was at $134.9 million) since 2010.
Now, lets talk about the new openers. This weekend next year is going to be really odd. Apart from Ice Age 5, the other openers, La La Land and The Lake, don’t seem like your typical mid-summer film. Instead, those releases feel more suited towards the fall or spring calendar, but regardless, due to Hollywood’s sudden obsession with ‘lets try releasing our films anywhere on the calendar and see if it works, to determine the weekend’s viability’, it isn’t really weird. Oh, and its also a J.K. Simmons VS J.K. Simmons fight, to see how emerges victorious. Apart from major comedies every 2 years or so, like Friends with Benefits and (500) Days of Summer, it really has been franchise kick-off hopefuls, which might or might not have failed miserably (Sorcerer’s Apprentice, you know who I’m talking about). Okay fine, there was Space Chimps in 2008, which I’ve just heard off, and never before, but still, it is safe to say that this weekend has been a franchise or comedy or Christopher Nolan affair ever since the start of the 2010s. Well, until 2013 came about.
Hollywood decided to try something new in 2013. Lets just say that there were four major releases from 4 major studios all attempting to release their offerings over that particular weekend. But unlike previous years, there wasn’t really any sure bet among them. R.I.P.D was destined to be the next big flop from Ryan Reynolds, with an added bonus of Jeff Bridges involved; Turbo was Dreamwork’s follow-up to the surprise hit The Croods, but faltered due to the double summer animated combo of Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University, and I find it hard to avoid mentioning that this film also had Ryan Reynolds attached as the main lead (well, he gave his voice). Red 2, with most of its original cast, also returned, but nobody wished for a sequel, and the previous film was much more of an event-film of sorts especially in a month like October, which is much quieter than the summer cannibalistic landscape. The final one, The Conjuring, was probably an ambitious attempt to try seeing if summer has the potential to launch horror movies, and I guess Warner Bros. and James Wan were proud, for they had one of the biggest no-gore, no found-footage, purely horror movie film in years, enough to launch a sequel and a couple of spin-offs, and bringing James Wan into the mainstream with Furious 7, and coming soon- Robotech and Aquaman. Okay, things didn’t really work out well in 2013, apart from The Conjuring, with Red 2 being okay, Turbo being some sort of disappointment, and R.I.P.D just crashing out of the gate. 2014 can be said to be a follow-up to the new experiment that was concocted up the year before, bringing along three films as well- Sex Tape, Planes: Fire and Rescue and Purge: Anarchy, once again with none of them expected to bring in big cash for their respective studios. Planes: Fire and Rescue was yet another attempt to cash in on the Cars franchise, which nobody could figure the reasoning behind, considering Cars is perhaps the most contentious film Pixar has ever brought, period. Furthermore, Planes wasn’t even beloved, and hence, suffered right upon release, coming nowhere close even to its predecessor. Purge: Anarchy’s very release on that date was really just Universal doubting Warner Bros., and wanting to try out the mid-July period for themselves, to assure themselves that yes, horror movies can launch in July. It didn’t open as big as its predecessor, but who cares anyway, if it brings in more cash by the end of its run? Sex Tape, meanwhile, didn’t appeal to its mainstream, and maybe one can blame it on its title- which moviegoer who ponders upon such a film for the first time in cinemas, at the ticketing booth, will choose this film? Unless you’re someone who does watch or even perform lots of sick stuff at home, but lets not go there into R-rated territory, and to end off, even so, who’s going to go announce to the world about their very behavior, and graze theaters with their presence, without feeling shameful?
Okay, 2015 was a return back to what mid-July represented- big, dumb popcorn movies, and an anticipated mega-comedy as per previous years. But it looks like 2016 is going to be fun to watch..
Lets begin with Ice Age 5. Or Ice Age: Collision Course, or so its called. The Ice Age franchise and its studio Blue Sky have never been a first tier, high-demand franchise domestically. It has always paled to the like of Pixar, Illumination Entertainment and even Dreamwork Animation. The numbers show- despite being hits abroad- the last two films both earned in the ballpark of $866-877 million worldwide, allowing them to get into the ‘top 10 of year’ charts whenever they were released. Thats definitely way more than most animated movies from any of the studios I mentioned above- only the Despicable Me, Shrek and Toy Story franchises have seen higher grosses, but domestically, this franchise has never hit $200 million. Unlike Pixar, which hits that milestone almost every single time except maybe that one exception with Cars 2. There’s even signs that interest in the 13 year old franchise is fading to obscurity. The last film, Ice Age: Continental Drift back in 2012 reached a new low, ‘only’ earning $161.3 million at the end of the day after a $46.6 million opening weekend, and that was after Brave has been in theaters for 4 weeks by then, and Madagascar: Europe’s Most Wanted for 6 weeks. With the continued downward trend, it doesn’t seem likely that this film is going to be a rebound, especially since its only coming one week after Illumination Entertainment’s next foray into the genre with The Secret Life of Pets, which you can read more about here, two weeks after Spielberg’s family friendly The BFG, and thats by Dreamwork, and 4 weeks after the follow-up to one of Pixar’s biggest films yet, Finding Dory. Yes, all the above mentioned Animation strongholds are launching their summer installment within a month of this film’s release, and this film seems to be the one that’s going to be sort of rejected in that position, being the last in the pack. Remember how Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 left no room for any other kid-friendly film for months. Now, think about Finding Nemo, way more popular than Monsters Inc. ever was back in its day, having its follow-up. Then visualize that ‘new animated movie every one-two week’ trend, which you should remember also happened back in 2013. Then remember that Secret Life of Pets and The BFG have a much stronger concept backing it, and either have a Despicable Me namesake or Steven Spielberg’s prestigious name backing the film’s production. Now you understand why Ice Age: Collision Course is in some sort of trouble. Okay, looking at these, I will say this film earns maybe around the mid-high 30s range over opening weekend, but that will be a huge step down by franchise standards, though unless they revamp this film, and make it look a whole lot different, I think Blue Sky and Fox should be expecting a gradual drop domestically. Though, as we know, it doesn’t matter as long as this film is craved abroad, so we should expect many more films down the road.
Okay, there isn’t much we can talk about for the other two films for now, except how unique those films are, opening in such a season. La La Land is director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash, which opened to stupendous reviews, but little fanfare due to its limited release. And J.K Simmons was there too. Okay, before continuing, its important to note that if you’re right now wondering, who in the world this guy who somehow reminds you about J.K. Rowling is, go watch Terminator: Genisys. He’s probably one of the best things (or perhaps the only good thing) about it. Anyways, La La Land is a story about a jazz pianist falling in love with an actress, so its part romance, part drama apparently, all set to the tune of contemporary Los Angeles. That’s great, but I strongly believe that we are looking at yet another smaller scale opening here- instead of Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, we’re getting J.K. Simmons, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the latter two who are hotly demanded in Hollywood these days. Yes, more stars might propel this to a bigger opening, but this looks more like an arthouse, awards contender, rather than a mainstream film which most can relate to, eyeing only a very specific crowd. I’m saying an opening slightly less than $5 million, but its hard to guess for this one just yet.
Then comes The Lake. Also starring J.K. Simmons and a certain Sullivan Stapleton, and directed by Steven Quale, whose most recent directorial role was in Into the Storm, hence evoking very little confidence into this film. Yes, J.K. Simmons might save the day, though (notice how I’m in obsessed with him here, I don’t know why). This might come across as a horror movie, but nope, here’s the plot summary- A team of Navy SEALs discover an immense treasure hidden in a Bosnian lake. That’s it at the moment, and apparently its a action-thriller. Seeing that EuropaCorp has never given us any massive films, with Taken and its various sequels being an exception, I don’t expect much from this, so maybe around $10 million, or slightly less?
Okay, here’s my predictions, all written neatly in one section:
Ice Age: Collision Course- $35 million- $120 million final gross
La La Land- $4 million- $17 million final gross
The Lake- $9 million- $24 million final gross
Of course, on the subject of holdovers, it is almost a given that none of the above films will be attaining first over its three day weekend. That honor should instead, be going to Star Trek Beyond, which will probably have a second weekend with over $40 million. It’s going to be much quieter, with this weekend barely missing the $200 million mark with the top 10 combined, though it should be noted that if it comes even a bit close, it’s going to be the second biggest weekend top 10 gross since 2012, when the Dark Knight Rises led all films to a combined top 10 gross of over $210 million. Okay, it’s time to end off here, just remember to check back next week, when we will be looking at whether Ghostbusters will beat King Arthur. Okay, but just remember, don’t forget to check back here exactly one year later, where you can laugh at how inaccurate I am, or be awed by my prediction skills. I really don’t know how this is going to turn out.