dragon2feature

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

There’s a full moon on Friday the 13th this year, but surprisingly no horror films debut in wide release, unless, of course, you prefer to think of sequels as horror flicks.

With a dozen big-time sequels set for release this summer, odds are we were destined to slam into a weekend where we doubled down. Well, folks, with “22 Jump Street” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” the time for double-dipping has come.

DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” again featuring the vocal stylings of Gerard Bulter and Jay Baruchel, is looking to scorch the box office as the original landed with $43M four years ago, and went on to have incredible legs, grossing $217M in North America and nearly $500M worldwide.

The sequel should absolutely crush the opening number of the first film, as pent up demand for animated films are at an all-time high right now, considering Pixar dropped out of this summer, leaving “Dragon 2” as the most anticipated toon of the season. With school out in most places now, its debut should soar to heights of nearly $70M. Yes, Pixar-type numbers.

Considering the last few DWA films have underperformed–“Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” “Turbo,” “Rise of the Guardians”–this is a must-have for the studio, which hasn’t consistently built new franchises other than “The Croods” lately.

At $165M, “How to Train Your Dragon” remains one of the most expensive animated films DreamWorks has ever made. No doubt the sequel, which ran through many rewrites and a lot of reediting is closer to $200M (although its officially reported as $145M), but considering it’s expected to be one of the highest-grossing films of the summer, that’s money well spent.

Also, the threequel is already on the release calendar for summer 2016–so DreamWorks knew they had to get this one right in order to propel momentum towards the trilogy-capper. From all accounts, they’ve done so, as early reviews are nearly matching the 98% fresh rating “Dragon” received on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the best reviewed films this summer.

Sony is also looking for a win-win this weekend, as “22 Jump Street” looks to over perform in regards to the original. “21 Jump Street” debuted in March 2012 to $36M on its way to $138M domestic and $200M worldwide. Not bad for a $40M price tag.

Sequels aren’t cheap though, and “22 Jump Street” nearly doubled-up on the budget coming in at $70M. Still, with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum earning winning reviews for their second undercover stint, everyone should be happy with the results.

Just what will those results be? Likely around $50M+ for starters…which would be tops this summer for an R-rated comedy, as “Neighbors” debuted with $49M.

For those looking to live it up on Friday the 13th and howl at the full moon, Focus Features’ drops “The Signal,” an apocalyptic road trip, which is technically a sci-fi thriller, in limited release in 120 theaters. Sorry horror fanatics…that’s as close as you’re gonna get.

And apparently, a Friday the 13th full moon won’t happen again until August 2049! How could Hollywood drop the ball on this? How could the Friday the 13th series miss this opportunity? Carpe Noctem, my friends. Make it count! Oh, and if that intense solar storm that’s scheduled to hit on Friday does knock out communications (i.e. Facebook & Twitter)…you’ll probably live. Except no one will know for sure.

Also in limited release, A24 unleashes their R-rated crime drama, “The Rover,” featuring Guy Pierce and Robert Pattinson chasing each other across the brutal, apocalyptic (yet again) landscape of the Australian outback. Torturous…definitely. Horrible…maybe. Horror…not really.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES
1. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – $69M
2. 22 JUMP STREET – $55M
3. MALEFICENT – $20.5M
4. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS – $20M
5. EDGE OF TOMORROW – $16M

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SPLICE OF LIFE: BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

SONIC RACES TOWARDS THE SILVER SCREEN

Believe it or not, Sonic the Hedgehog is going to grab the brass ring and attempt to chime in at the box office. Yes, Sony has plans to turn Sega’s most popular character into a live-action/CGI film. Yup. True story. Well, at least they didn’t go with Ecco the Dolphin.

Listen, I’m all for championing video game adaptations, but “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda” aren’t crossing over anytime soon, and neither should Sonic. Problem is, with the LEGO-fication of the movie business, any and all name-brand characters are now getting a second look.

And just because it has a built-in fan base doesn’t mean squat. I mean, so does Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. And does anyone recall what happened with Disney’s “Need for Speed” or the countless other video game adaptations? I wonder if Sony remembers one of the biggest busts in animation history: “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.” Their film cost an eye-gouging $137M and ended up recouping just $85M globally.

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DREAMWORKS ANIMATION SETS FUTURE SLATE

Get ready for sequels to “The Croods” and “Puss in Boots,” as well as another “Madagascar.”

First on the docket though is “Boss Baby,” which is set to drop March 18, 2016 from Tom McGrath, the director of the first three “Madagascar” flicks, as well as “Megamind.”

Then comes the adaptation of the wildly popular book series, “Captain Underpants,” which will go full-wedgie January 13, 2017 from director Rob Letterman (“Monsters vs. Aliens” and next summer’s “Goosebumps”) and writer Nic Stoller (“Get Him to the Greek,” “The Muppets”).

Nicolas Cage will be able to pay off all those mortgages after all, as “The Croods 2” is set to roll into theaters November 3, 2017–4 1/2 years after the original scored a massive $587M globally.

And the wildly successful afro-circus continues to sing, dance and prance as “Madagascar 4” pops up its big top May 18, 2018. The “Madagascar” series has grossed $1.8B worldwide with its three previous installments.

And finally, “Puss in Boots” gets rebooted (not in that way) as “Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves” will feature Antonio Banderas’ bad kitty back in theaters on November 2, 2018. Chris Miller, director of the original and “Shrek 3,” returns.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Universal’s “Dumb and Dumber To” (Nov. 14, 2014)

When you have a hit film these days, usually a studio strikes gold with a sequel a couple years later, like, say, “22 Jump Street.” However, it’s almost unheard of to wait twenty years. Well, when your career has basically stalled out (i.e. working with penguins) why not go back to the comedy well? To be fair, “Dumb and Dumber” might just be Jim Carrey’s “Citizen Kane.” Okay, “Citizen Kooky.” But still, outside of “The Truman Show” it’s arguably his best work and has a huge cult following.

Jeff Daniels is back too, as are the Farrelly Bros., who made their directing debut with the original. That film ended up grossing $247M worldwide on a budget of $17M…and has kept them working steadily in Hollywood ever since.

Looks like the dumbest kind of fun there is. Should be big.

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CHOICE CLIP OF THE WEEK: Fox Searchlight’s “Birdman” (Oct. 17, 2014)

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest film has Michael Keaton back in a superhero flick for the first time in over two decades. Sort of. Just don’t call him Batman. This first trailer is wonderfully weird and definitely something Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman will soon be able to relate to.

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CHOICE TUNE OF THE SUMMER: Air Miami’s “World Cup Fever”

While movies are awesome and all, it’s that time…fuuuuuuuutbol…and I’ve got the fever. Time to hit the bars and watch soccer 24-7!

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Poster Courtesy of DreamWorks; Design by MIDNIGHT OIL