When a mediocre movie like “San Andreas” checks in with $54M—no offense to The Rock or the Warner Bros. marketing team, which did a fine job with what they had—it’s pretty obvious that audiences are jonesin’ for big, blockbuster content. Simply put: people want to be entertained, damnit!
For the first time this summer, three new wide releases drop in theaters, with Paul Feig’s “Spy” front and center, and “Insidious: Chapter 3” and “Entourage” both arriving with solid fan bases.
Melissa McCarthy is pretty much the hottest comedian working in films today, which is why Fox’s $65M “Spy” should easily steal the #1 spot this weekend. Her blue-chip status began with hits like “Bridemaids” and “The Heat” and was cemented with “Identity Thief” and “Tammy.”
“Identity Thief” and “Tammy?” Yes, when subpar films featuring basically “a big head on a poster” sell just one person, it’s no secret that that one person is sort of a big deal. The only thing is, as most comedians eventually find out, is that audiences, after awhile, get tired of the shtick. Not so with McCarthy yet.
“Tammy,” co-written by McCarthy with her husband Ben Falcone–who also served as director–opened coolly over Fourth of July weekend with just $21M, but went on to earn a respectable $84M overall. While she escaped what could have been a minor career fiasco, it’s certainly a great move by McCarthy to re-team with Feig, who also directed her in “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat.”
The big story here is Jason Statham though, as he obliterates his tough-guy, on-screen persona with a laugh-out-loud comedic performance, one that was long overdue. He’s so good, in fact, that he could probably make a second career out of it, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger did for a bit with films like “Kindergarten Cop” and “Twins.” Let’s just hope he doesn’t team up with Stallone and the rest of the “Expendables” for “Stop or My Mom Will Shoot, Again.”
In fact, all the supporting roles are filled with fabulous performances turned in by Rose Byrne, Jude Law, and Bobby Cannavale. And, of course, a wonderful extended cameo from Allison Janney.
McCarthy’s best opener as a leading lady is 2013’s “The Heat” with $39M; expect this one to nudge up to that number, and possibly top it, as it opens in 3,700+ theaters. And even though it’s rated R, “Spy” is basically a grown-up family film with a brand moviegoers know very well by now.
When is a threequel not actually a sequel? When it’s a prequel. As much as I despise even the best of prequels, I’m sure “Insidious: Chapter 3” will tap into the main vein of audiences…the same one that made the first two films such huge hits.
Produced by micro-budget maestro Jason Blum, the first two films cost a combined $6.5M and grossed an eye-gouging $258M. Is it any wonder Blumhouse Productions has dozens upon dozens of projects in various stages of production with multiple studios?
This third chapter marks the directorial debut of Aussie Leigh Whannell, the writer of the first three “Saw” flicks, and the previous two “Insidious” installments. No doubt this franchise is in good hands, even without Patrick Wilson in the starring role. However, it certainly won’t hit upwards of $40M like the sequel did when it debuted back in September 2013.
In 3,000+ theaters, expect summer’s first and only threequel (sorry, “Fantastic Four” is a reboot) to pop off with around $30M, which will probably be around six times its budget. That’s how you zip out of the red and mainline the black, folks.
If you’re a true bro’s bro, the only film on your must-see list this weekend is HBO’s “Entourage.” While there certainly won’t be gaggles of girls making a weekend out of this like they did for HBO’s “Sex in the City” when it opened #1 with $57M, there certainly is a fanbase for the $20M film, as it did run for eight seasons.
And, not to be harsh, but what else were these guys doing? I mean Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, and Jerry Ferrara aren’t exactly hot commodities by Hollywood standards. I’m mean, but truth is, they’re all better known as their character names: Vince, E, Johnny Drama and Turtle. So be it! Embrace that shit, boys!
They own these roles, so why not give the fans a little treat? I mean, thirty-minute increments always felt artificially truncated, so 104 minutes is a welcome blast from the past and a bit like binge watching. Though, I’m sure everyone (myself included, who watched the show religiously) would have preferred another season. I’m sure Netflix or Amazon will fund them even if the boys aren’t quite as hip as HBO’s latest lightning rods, “Game of Thrones” or “Silicon Valley.”
“Entourage” has already scored a better-than-expected $2M in late-night screenings on Tuesday, so no doubt the fan base is there, and that should power the R-rated flick to around $20M over the traditional 3-day stretch, matching its budget opening weekend. That, folks, are the magic words every studio in Hollywood loves to hear. Always has been. Always will be. Ari Gold, go ahead and green light that sequel.
In moderate wide release comes a film you’ve probably never heard of, but should check out if you get the chance: Roadside Attractions’ “Love & Mercy,” which is the story of Beach Boy, Brian Wilson.
Roadside Attractions rarely opens a film in wide release and hardly ever markets their films with saturating campaigns, which is why it’s doubtful the PG-13 rated biography has even made a blip on most people’s radar.
Starring Paul Dano and John Cusack—who has been trapped in straight-to-Redbox purgatory for far too long—both star as Wilson at different points in his life, and from the looks of it, pull it off, especially Dano.
In 450+ theaters, anything over $2M+ would be a solid start.
1. Spy – $41M
2. Insidious: Chapter 3 – $27M
3. San Andreas – $24M
4. Entourage – $20M
5. Pitch Perfect 2 – $8.5M
CHOICE BLIP OF THE WEEK: Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” (Nov. 25, 2015)
This is the first time ever that Pixar will release two films in the same calendar year. Why? Well, it’s also the first time that a Pixar film has had this much trouble making it to the big screen. Might have something to do with it. Should do fine, but it’s also the only Pixar film to be moved so much on the release calendar, a decision that Pixar has openly said that it was based on story issues. Kinda think they’ll figure it out. They always do.
INDIE SLICE OF THE WEEK: Fox Searchlight’s “Mistress America” (Aug. 14, 2015)
Last we saw indie mavens, filmmaker Noah Baumbach (“While We’re Young”) and actress Greta Gerwig, they were collaborating in black on white in the streets of New York with “Frances Ha.” Here they return as co-writers again, this time in color. Indie spirit amidst the summer blockbuster swelter.
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.
“Spy” Poster Image Courtesy of 20th Century Fox; Design by Ignition; Photography by Mary Ellen Matthews