It may not seem like a record-breaking summer considering Hollywood hasn’t dropped that all-encompassing, Twitter-retweeting $100M+ opener yet, but one thing’s for certain: each week has delivered a brand new headline.
For the first time in the history of the modern summer blockbuster era (beginning the first weekend in May), we’ve started the season with a new film atop the domestic box office seven weeks in a row, and this week will likely make it #8. And no, Frankie Valli fans, despite being a chart topper himself, I’m not talking about “Jersey Boys.”
Kevin Hart’s hotstreak should continue as the reign of summer sequels brings “Think Like a Man Too” to 2,225 multiplexes. Sony’s $24M sequel will likely surpass the original’s debut of $31M as 2010’s spring fling turned into a surprise $91M windfall for the studio.
Sequels that carry “Too” in the title have rarely performed well in theaters—“Teen Wolf Too,” “Look Who’s Talking Too,” and “Hoodwinked Too”—although another film aimed at African American audiences, “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?,” did solid biz with a sizable $60M.
Look for Hart and cohorts to double down and hit close to $35M this weekend, even though reviews have not been kind as “Think Like a Man Too” sits at just 24% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Not to worry, “Ride Along” was just 18% fresh and that went on to make $134M. You please your fans, not your critics.
Interestingly, “Jersey Boys” arrives with an R-rating for language, which is probably authentic if you really do hail from New Jersey, but really makes this an adults-only affair. Clint Eastwood likely had final say, but the truth is WB would have had a tough sell making this as family-friendly regardless. I mean, unless they recruited the “Jersey Shore” cast…and then we’re talking about a vastly different film.
Debuting in nearly 3,000 venues, it’s doubtful the $40M musical will have audiences singing in the aisles, as this is pretty serious fare to arrive at this point in the summer. Expect a relatively dim light of $15M or so to be shed on “Jersey Boys,” which will place it on the charts for a short while, but without strong reviews (currently teetering on the line of fresh/rotten with 60% on Rotten Tomatoes) this could crap out quickly. Big girls may not cry, but investors will.
Indie-distributor A24 expands “The Rover” into moderate nationwide release, which is optimistic to say the least. The Robert Pattinson/Guy Pearce drama debuted with a weak $69,302 in 5 theaters—$13,860 per—which aren’t even close to the sort of numbers you want to see if you’re planning on a wide expansion. Like the dozens of dystopian films our there…this one will probably die a quick yet tragic theatrical death yet be reborn on Redbox like a gorgeous, goddamn phoenix. Maybe.
Ever since “Crash” stole the best picture Oscar from “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005, Paul Haggis as a writer/director has fizzled at the box office. That’s called karma, people. He returns this weekend with Sony Classics’ “Third Person,” which sort of looks like “Crash” all over again, except no one will be fooled this time around.
The R-rated romantic drama runs a bloated 2 hours and 17 minutes, so expect an awful lot of first person narratives from NY and LA theatergoers walking out of the five theaters it debuts in.
1. THINK LIKE A MAN TOO – $36M
2. 22 JUMP STREET – $31M
3. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 – $30M
4. JERSEY BOYS – $15M
5. MALEFICENT – $12M
SPLICE OF LIFE: BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS
N.W.A. BIOPIC SET TO POP OFF NEXT SUMMER
Universal will drop “Straight Outta Compton” on August 14, 2015 with founding N.W.A. members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre producing the film and F. Gary Gray (“Friday,” “The Italian Job”) at the helm. And in a bit of fun casting, O’Shea Jackson Jr.—Ice Cube’s real son—will play his old man. Doesn’t get any more OG than that.
When rappers N.W.A. came onto the scene in the late 80s, an entire nation woke up to a brand new sound that completely blew the doors off rap—it was not only in-your-face, but on the attack.
Gansta rap was born and Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and the rest of the crew not only solidified the Oakland Raiders as hardcore rap’s #1 fans but held pop culture at gunpoint, issuing in a whole new era of music and igniting a much-needed culture war.
The music was so bold and brash, and struck such a chord, that even white teenagers like me in Podunk, Idaho got our hands on it and pretended to understand their plight…cranking it up on our boom boxes and annoying the shit out of an entire generation in the process—i.e. our parents.
Sure, our folks hated the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC too, but this was intolerable…and blasting that music meant instant street cred for us. It was our rebel yell—sorry, Billy Idol.
The juicy behind-the-scenes of N.W.A. is not only the catalyst of a cultural earthquake, it’s filled with oodles of drama, perfect for a big screen blowup. And you can bet the soundtrack will funk people up. Can’t wait for this one. Could be huge for Universal who will likely score a decent-sized hit with this summer’s James Brown biopic, “Get on Up,” too.
INDIE SLICE OF THE WEEK: Weinstein’s “Begin Again” (June 27, 2014)
To say “Begin Again” is a wonderful film is selling it short; It’s probably the best film I’ve seen this year. Now, I’m not quite sure I’m saying that because I had to sit through “Ride Along” and “The Legend of Hercules” and am already in the midst of summer blockbuster malaise, but it truly is a breath of fresh air.
Writer/director John Carney—who also gave us the pitch perfect “Once”—combines words and music again to wondrous results. It’s a melancholy love story featuring lost souls, to be sure, but it might be the first one where all the characters fall in love…with themselves. And it works on many levels.
It’ll make you laugh, cry, smile, tap your toes and completely fall in love with movies all over again. At least that was my experience. Any film that can do all that is pretty much tops in my book.
Can’t say enough about Mark Ruffalo, who like Matthew McConaughey, is simply owning it on screen lately. He’s contagious…in the best way. And Keira Knightley, who has rarely stood out since “Bend it Like Beckham” and “Atonement,” plays notes I forgot she could reach—some of her best work in a long time. And wait till you get a load of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine making his feature debut. He plays himself to perfection and may just be the next Justin Timberlake. Seriously.
Also, Catherine Keener, Hailee Steinfeld, Mos Def, CeeLo Green and James Corden—who steals every scene he’s in and also stars in “One Chance” later this summer—easily make “Begin Again” the most genuine ensemble cast of the year. Take that, X-Men!
The trailer doesn’t really do the film justice, as it tries to sell the film to the multiplex masses. The original title was “Can a Song Save Your Life?” which was probably deemed too artsy-fartsy but really does capture the film’s essence.
The trailer should have been Knightley’s character singing the lonely stripped down version of her song in its entirety, with a series of visuals since there’s so many great moments to choose from. Ironically, trailer #2 uses Levine’s version of the song to sell the movie…which is laughable on so many levels once you’ve seen the film. Still, don’t let a trailer that’s a little out of tune dissuade you, this film might just change your life. 😉
CLASSIC CUT OF THE WEEK: “Teen Wolf Too” (1987)
No offense to “Think Like a Man Too,” but there is no doubt “Teen Wolf Too” is the best of the “Too” sequels. Jason Bateman’s finest hour.
SOCCER: THE MOST FRUSTRATING SPORT IN THE WORLD
There are likely millions of completely shit-faced English futbol fans right now, especially considering the US (1-0) has more World Cup wins right now that England (0-2) does. Life isn’t fair. And rarely are the outcomes of soccer matches, either. Hey, at least Wayne Rooney finally scored. Now if only FIFA would institute instant replay on all penalty kicks.
“Think Like A Man Too” Poster Courtesy of Sony Pictures