Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Scott Breaks Down This Weekend's New Release Box Office Chances

My podcast companion, Scott Martin, is back with another guest article this week.  This time he is looking at the wide release openings for this weekend and analyzing their chances for box office success.  He also gives are few short opinions on each picture and helps give you an idea on what movie you should possibly give a chance this weekend.

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This upcoming weekend brings with it two very diverse wide release movies to the summer box office mania that we are currently in the midst of. How often is it that you can get excited for an animated comedy and a big budget zombie apocalypse movie in the same weekend? So far, action movies are the top of the pile with Iron Man 3 already reaching over a billion dollars in worldwide box office and Man of Steel setting a solid pace with 2013’s second best opening weekend box office of $116 million.

One of the movies opening in a few days is Monsters University, the sequel to Pixar’s 2001 Monsters Inc. It may seem a long way removed from the original, but Disney was smart and released it in 3D back in December. Audiences did not seem too into this, as it pulled a dismal $4 million in the box office its opening weekend. Is that a sign that Monsters University will be a flop? This blockbuster season has been all about the sequel, and most have fared well (The Hangover excluded). People do like the comfort of recognizable branding, and I think it is going to be no different with this animated family feature.

Monsters Inc. thrived off of the fun and sincerity of the relationship between James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), and they are both too talented to not be able to bring the same dynamic this time around. As well, animated movies can do quite well this time of year as is evidenced by the $66 million opening weekend enjoyed by Brave in 2012. So far, the animated movie to beat in 2013 is The Croods (released March 22), which has accumulated $182 million dollars domestically, and still sits at number 15 on the box office list. I believe it is a safe bet to make that Monsters University will be able to catch and surpass that mark.

Monsters University Opening Weekend Prediction - $65 million


The second wide release movie this weekend is the Brad Pitt starring and producing World War Z, based on the 2006 novel by Max Brooks. Riding the current trend of zombies, this movie looks to take the genre to a scale that it has not been to before. The trailers show epic large scale zombie invasion, which for the most part looks great but seems to look a bit like a video game at points.

This movie was originally to be released in December 2012, but got the bump for some reshooting. Normally this is the tell-tale sign of a sure flop. People who went to see GI Joe: Retaliation a few months ago can give you first-hand accounts of the horrors a pushed back movie can bring. Or people who saw Gangster Squad and felt the sting in their wallets and their hearts can lend similar testimony. I am one of those suckers who saw both, but still I am not too deterred by the pushback of this movie. Apparently, one of the reasons was for some rewriting of the script and the man who was brought in to save the day was Drew Goddard who had written and directed the brilliant slasher film (it is not often that phrase is uttered) Cabin in the Woods. The inclusion of Goddard gives me a bit more hope for the potential of this movie.

My biggest concern, though, is what this film will do for the genre. As with any trend, there is a finite timeline for it to bask in the sun and one starts to wonder when the zombie trend will have reached its apex.  World War Z takes the zombie concept to such an epic level, that I have to wonder what can possibly be left for it after this and that this is the sign that it has jumped the shark. The only places left for it to go are outer space, in a Planet of the Apes style movie. Or, perhaps an intriguing zombie movie could easily be made by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. I will admit right now, I would pay double the ticket price to see that movie.

I am not saying that I believe the zombie genre will be dead, but that it will just slowly regress back towards being out of the mainstream until a brilliant film maker sparks the same fire that Danny Boyle did when he directed the genre-changing 28 Days Later. Unfortunately for Brad Pitt and company, the window of opportunity for their movie is very limited as Roland Emmerich is about to keep his tradition of stomping on the US capitol building in White House Down starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. As well, Man of Steel is hitting it big with audiences which may be steering people into the waiting arms of Zack Snyder this weekend.

World War Z Opening Weekend Prediction - $40 million


And lastly, some markets will get the expanded release of Sofia Coppola’s movie about teenagers who thieve from celebrities, The Bling Ring. Coppola based the movie around an article written in Vanity Fair, and this weekend it moves from being played in 5 theatres to over 500. It was only a few month back that Michael Bay released a movie based off an article (Pain and Gain), but something tells me The Bling Ring will offer viewers a bit more than they got from the rock and roll style of Bay. The critics are mixed on this movie so far, but if you are interested in seeing something that looks a bit different from the typical explosion filled blockbuster flicks then this may be one worth sampling.

The Bling Ring Expanded Weekend Prediction - $1.5 million

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