Friday, July 19, 2013

Conjuring up Speed, Death, and Colours at the Box Office: Scott Makes His Weekly New Releases' Grosses Predictions

Scott once again predicts what will be the hits and the misses of the weekend.  This is an especially busy weekend with four new wide releases, and even a limited release that may be competitive in Girl Most Likely.  Here is the tale of the tape for the bigger releases this weekend.
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We are now nearing the middle of the summer, and this upcoming weekend has a history of bringing a summer blockbuster.  Last year, it was The Dark Knight Rises.  The year before that, it was the feature length trailer for The Avengers in Captain America: The First Avenger.  And the year before that, the weekend was highlighted by Christopher Nolan’s Inception.  The last time this July weekend was a sleepy one was in 2007, when the debuting I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry took first place in the box office with $35 million.  And what will 2013 offer for a weekend that is usually penciled in as a time to unleash blockbuster gold?  The answer, four wide release movies ranging from animation to horror.   With so much to talk about and ponder, let us waste no time as we jump right in.

Animated family movies can be a gold mine.  Despicable Me 2 is showing just how much money there is to make, as it has taken two weeks to reach almost the same worldwide box office totals that Monsters University took four weeks to attain.  The new challenger to the crown of year’s best animated movie is Turbo, a film starring Ryan Reynolds about a snail that becomes supercharged and looks to compete in the Indy 500.  I can’t find any box office numbers to give an analytical breakdown of supercharged snail movies and their performances to gain some insight into how Turbo may fare, but I think I can boldly say that Despicable Me 2 is safe at the moment.   What does not help the chances of Turbo is the fact that Despicable Me 2 is still a relevant, which will affect ticket sales. It did open to around $6 million on Wednesday, but it looks like that is a bit of a disappointment when compared to expectations as DreamWorks stock took a small hit on Wednesday (I believe it closed at around 3% down, and dropped on Tuesday as well).

Turbo 5 Day Opening Weekend Prediction - $34 million


If you listen to The Breakdown podcast on this blog, you may have heard Chris and I talk about how Bruce Willis has been the smartest of the 80s action heroes in terms of the movies he chooses to do.  He has learned that since he is getting on in years it is best to play a character who is getting on in years, and not a one man army (with the exception of this year’s Die Hard movie, but he knows franchises are usually safe in the box office) like some of his contemporaries have done.  In Red 2 Willis returns with cast mates Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and Mary-Louise Parker.  The movies are about aging and retired assassins that are thrown in the middle of explosions and intrigue, and the appeal is in seeing acclaimed talent like Mirren and Malkovich in such situations.  Red finished its domestic run in the box office with $90 million and I am sure the studio executives are hoping for a repeat performance.

Red 2 Opening Weekend Prediction - $18.5 million


Ryan Reynolds is double dipping this weekend as he stars alongside Jeff Bridges in R.I.P.D., a film that is not concerned about disguising the fact that it is a rip off of Men in Black.  I will not mock it for being an already used concept, as recycling is a game for everyone to play.  The movie takes the concept of Men in Black and sells it on the name of Ryan Reynolds and the fun, over the top performance of Bridges.  I believe that Bridges' character, who is a Wild West style gun slinger, is the main selling point for this movie.  The trailers (other than being a slap in the face, blatant commercial for Fresca) show a lot of semi-polished  special effects and scenarios , but it is Bridges who is the main draw here as he delivers the personality and tries to add a stamp to it for audiences to remember.  The budget is estimated at $130 million dollars, so that leaves a heck of a mountain to climb for a movie on a borrowed concept.   With last summer’s failure of Battleship still in recent memory, Universal Studios may have done a miscalculation on their tent-pole summer blockbuster for a second year in a row.

R.I.P.D Opening Weekend Predictions – $15.5 million


The final movie coming out this weekend is one that some people consider to be the biggest wildcard of the 2013 blockbuster season.  The Conjuring is a midsummer supernatural horror movie, something that does not happen all the time.  It can work, as The Omen proved in 2006, and The Others in 2001(an interesting note about The Others is that it never was number one in the box office, but earned $209 million worldwide because of never dropping more than 26% between weekends for the first 8 weeks, something that is almost unheard of.  Going into its seventh weekend, it witnessed an increase.  It spent the first four weeks in the box office at number four and showed the value that a movie with lasting appeal can have, and that a sprint for a large opening weekend is not always the best method).  Most horrors find themselves in theatres at the end of August, around Halloween, or in the cold dark void of January and February.

One trailer for The Conjuring makes it look like a by-the-numbers horror affair with predictable jump scares.  Another trailer shows a movie that takes its time and focuses on atmospheric tension, connecting the viewer with the fear of the characters on screen.  It is the second trailer I am referring to that has me most intrigued.  That intrigue is limited based solely off of the fact that it is directed by James Wan, the director of Saw, and Insidious.  While some think he can bring a lot to a horror, I find that his films can suffer from ADD and am still suffering the effects of having seen Insidious within the past year.  Recently, internet buzz around The Conjuring has caught a lot of people’s attention as on most days it is one of the top five most tweeted about movies.  On Tuesday alone it had around forty thousand tweets, compared to seventeen thousand for Grown Ups 2, and ten thousand for Pacific Rim.  Combine that kind of chatter with a number of positive critical reviews, and we may see a horror as reigning champion in a very competitive weekend.

The Conjuring Opening Weekend Prediction - $35 million

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