August 2015 Box Office Preview: Fantastic Four, M.I.5, Vacation, Man from U.N.C.L.E and more Tepid Openers

We are now down to the last month of the summer moviegoing season. Or otherwise known as ‘the dog days’. Hot or not, this is usually the month where we see things starting to subside just a bit, before the Fall movie season kicks off in September, and things start picking up yet again come November. Its not going to be long before we look back at this past summer season, and start asking ourselves- have we lived life to the fullest. Okay, back to the box office. Last August saw two latecomers to the game, which helped carry the otherwise paltry box office which needed a revival. Guardians of the Galaxy came, bringing along the third biggest movie of the year, with $333.2 million (biggest movie of summer too). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle joined on the second weekend of August, with $191.2 million. I ain’t expecting something as massive this year- the only two films which I see have some potential to make a run for $150 million domestically are Fantastic Four and Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation, and even those two might have some trouble hitting $200 million. Regardless, here’s what you can expect from the month of August: July 31 2015 mission impossible rogue nation I know, this isn’t fair, July 31st is technically part of July, stop groaning. However, it’s important to take note that two of the three days of the weekend will be in August, so the openers can’t really qualify as having much of a contribution to the domestic box office gross of July. Okay, this weekend will see two films- Vacation, arriving two days earlier on the 29th of July, and Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation in what should be the biggest weekend of the month. No jokes, the rest of August seems rather quiet. Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation is coming on the heels of the best received installment in the franchise yet, Ghost Protocol, which earned a massive 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and in the process its highest grossing installment to date. However, Ghost Protocol had Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa, whereas this film has Tom Cruise holding onto a plane, which comes nowhere close in terms of excitement factor. Regardless, with a returning cast consisting of the likes of Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner, Paramount shouldn’t be worried about the nostalgic factor. Although tracking has been soft till this point, I believe this film still has the potential to live up to its predecessor, with fantastic reviews and a star-studded cast (and lots of practical stunts, all done by Cruise himself). I’m going with $61 million over its opening weekend and $190 million by the end of its domestic run. Vacation Vacation comes as a sort of quasi-reboot to the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise, which has spawned 3 sequels, though the last one came all the way back in 1997, starring Chevy Chase, He’s back, but not as the lead- Ed Helms is taking over that role, as the grown up Rusty Griswold, with Christina Applegate now playing his wife, now with two sons of his own. Chris Hemsworth is coming along on the ride too, if you’re wondering. Opening in a period where comedies have often thrived, this one is barely coming two weeks after the superbly-received Trainwreck, which everyone has been raving about. The market will always expand, and with this serving as a direct continuation, it seems likely that the crowd that came back then will return due to nostalgia, and seeing Walley World one more time. I’m predicting $29 million over its first 5 days, and a run which will end with around $88 million in the bank. August 7 2015 Fantastic Four This is probably the last weekend in quite a while where we will see a $40 million+ opener, unless some film over performs at the fall box office. Whatever it is, this is going to be a hell of a competitive weekend, with Fantastic Four, Ricki and the Flash, The Gift and Shaun the Sheep Movie all striving to get some attention. Fantastic Four is probably the most renowned property among that bunch, being based on a Marvel comic. The last time it was adapted into a film series, it failed, mostly due to its disappointing reception. Fox wants to give it yet another shot, seeing that they have injected some life into their otherwise ailing X-Men universe. Here they come, with a brand new cast which are much younger. This production has seen lots of controversy, including casting Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, and putting Josh Trank as the director. Marketing hasn’t really demonstrated much confidence either, using catchphrases which we have encountered before (and doesn’t come close to sounding beefy) like ‘With Great Power comes Great Responsibility’. There’s of course more phrases which I swear I’ve heard before, but am too lazy to find their origins. Regardless, I’m more reserved in my estimates, saying it will earn $55 million over its opening weekend and trudge along depending on its reception (nobody wants a repeat of the other adaptations). Ricki and the Flash. Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep, after garnering enough Academy Award nominations in her lifetime, is now trying to dominate new genres, probably in her bid to always seem fresh. After appearing in Into the Woods as an evil witch in a Disney Musical, which doesn’t sound close to a match, she’s going to play a guitar heroine here, which totally isn’t Meryl Streep. Regardless, this will be a small hit, I presume, and I’m going with $7 million over its opening weekend. The Gift is Joel Egerton’s first film in which he serves under the director’s capacity. Early reviews have indicated generally favorable reviews, which definitely bodes well for the film’s arthouse prospects. Outside of that, though, I’m not expecting anything big, or an opening in over 2000 theaters for that matter- I’m assuming $4 million should be enough over its opening weekend. The final film, Shaun the Sheep Movie, has already been out since February in the UK. And it has finished its run in several overseas market either, and only now will it finally have a chance to be savored by the domestic crowd. Shaun the Sheep Movie is coming off fabulous reviews (100%) and a $59.7 million overseas gross, and it looks likely to repeat this is in the US. As we have seen from British animated films, Paddington was a hit here back in January, where it opened to $19 million. Of course, I’m not expecting this film to come close- even overseas numbers pale in comparison- and hence am projecting around $14 million over its opening weekend. Shaun the Sheep Movie August 14 2015 This is finally the weekend where things become soft. Three more films will enter wide release on this day, but almost none have the prestige of being part of an existing mega-franchise or property (Man from U.N.C.L.E being the exception). The Man From U.N.C.L.E is hoping to kick start a brand new film franchise, not unlike how Mission: Impossible and 21 Jump Street pulled it off, by adapting a television series which premiered eons ago. This one’s been gone for close to 50 years now, and I believe nostalgia will help here once again. Apart from that old-skewering crowd (47 years is a long time), this film is going to be seen as a fun action-comedy film, along with spy elements intact. The comic con trailer definitely attracted people’s attention, for it focused on several of the film’s comedic beats. I’m expecting $21 million over its opening weekend for this one. The Man From U.N.C.L.E Straight Outta Compton is a biographical drama, covering some of the history of the group N.W.A. That group, if you’re wondering, consists of the likes of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella, which has since been disbanded. With their influence on pop culture though, it is hoped that people will rush out to catch this film over its opening weekend. However, I don’t see it having a massive opening as of now- the highest grossing documentary film about a singer/pop culture artist (including music concert films) is Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and Michael Jackson’s This is It, and both those films earned around $72-73 million domestically. I’m expecting this to go a bit lower (firstly, the group ain’t appearing, this is first and foremost a documentary with actors portraying those stars), with maybe $60 million by the end of its run, after a $24 million opening. The last film, Underdogs, is yet another animated film which comes from abroad, this time from Argentina. This, like Shaun the Sheep Movie, has already been playing in overseas theaters for two years now. The long wait time can mostly be attributed to dubbing requirements, for the original version wasn’t in English. It performed extraordinarily in Argentina, achieving the biggest opening weekend record of all time in their market. However, outside Argentina, this film hasn’t really been a hit. I’m not expecting the situation to differ domestically, with maybe an opening around $5 million. August 21 2015 Hitman: Agent 47 Two films are set to be released over this weekend- Hitman: Agent 47 and American Ultra. The former serves as a remake of sorts, after the previous film was lambasted by almost everyone who encountered it. You know that this film isn’t going to bode well if the screenplay comes from the same guy who brought you the original Hitman and A Good Day to Die Hard. This one has Homeland’s Rupert Friend and Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto, but I don’t think star-power is going to go with the flow here. The original Hitman earned $13.2 million over its opening weekend- I’m going to go lower, saying this opens with under $10 million, maybe with around $8 million. The other film, American Ultra, is a half-action, half-comedy film, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as the leads. It’s kinda sort of a budget version of a ‘superhero’ sort of movie, based on the trailers. I’m going with $12 million for this one. August 28 2015 The final weekend of August tends to be really quiet in general in terms of new releases, and this year seems to be really similar, with three films entering wide release- Sinister 2, Regression and We are Your Friends. The first one, Sinister 2, comes three years after the first film earned $48 million domestically. Though that didn’t qualify as a massive hit, it was still among the better received wide releases the horror genre has seen in recent years (mostly because almost all of them are horrible). It’s back, but without Ethan Hawke. As we have seen in several precedents, horror follow-ups don’t usually hit the level its predecessor has attained. I don’t expect a reversal of that trend here- expect maybe around $15 million over its opening weekend. Regression We are Your Friends is Zac Efron’s next solo vehicle of sorts. Okay, it follows a disc jockey taking an aspiring DJ under his wing, according to the official sypnosis. I expect this film to open just a bit smaller as compared to That Awkward Moment’s $8.7 million opening. The final film, Regression, stars Ethan Hawke (dammit, releasing the same weekend as his previous Sinister film’s sequel) and Emma Watson, who hasn’t really been having much of a big screen presence of late, since her Harry Potter franchise ended. Trailers have portrayed this as a rather terrifying film, though I don’t expect this film to be a hit either. I’m expecting somewhere around $12 million for this one. Last year’s slate consisted of two heavyweights- Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which definitely helped to end summer on a high, after a quiet three months prior. This month’s very releases don’t seem to have as much power propelling them forward, though. Okay, anyways, ignoring Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation and Vacation, because they are technically July releases, I’m going to be ranking the top 5 films of the month, in terms of my predicted cumulative grosses: 1)Fantastic Four- $145 million 2)Straight Outta Compton- $60 million 3)The Man From U.N.C.L.E- $59 million 4)Shaun the Sheep Movie- $45 million 5)Regression- $35 million (Draw) 5)Sinister 2- $35 million (Draw) That’s a huge contrast to last year’s slate, where Guardians of the Galaxy earned $333.2 million and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles earned $191.2 million. Regardless, that was the biggest August combined released grosses ever, so I’m not expecting any records here or any indication that the box office is doomed again, especially after a remarkable summer run so far. Check back next month for my September preview, where we have Hotel Transylvania 2 and Maze Runner: Scorched Trials leading the pack.

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