Box Office Brasserie – Movie News For Movie Lovers
Oh Pooh, Summer’s Nearly Over
With Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” opening last weekend, the summer of sequels is now in the rearview mirror, as Hollywood released over a dozen high-profile continuing sagas with much success and now prepares with uncertainty. This is LAS—Life After Sequels.
The summer of 2018 has been a spectacular one for studios and exhibitors alike, and even though the formula didn’t necessarily change from the disappointing product released a year ago, sequels flew much higher and longer this year, as they were greeted with more fanfare and excitement.
Case in point: three films topped the $1B mark this summer—“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” and “Incredibles 2”—where 2017 saw just one film, “Despicable Me 3,” hit that mark.
Plus, there wasn’t a massive misfire this summer, like we saw with “Valerian,” “Baywatch,” and “The Mummy” underachieving, and not to mention uninspired sequels like “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Transformers: The Last Knight,” and “Cars 3.”
In fact, Disney carried the load this summer for blockbusters with all four of their sequels landing in the Top 5–yes, even “Solo,” which by all accounts underperformed, but still topped out with close to $400M worldwide, which any other studio would have been more than fine with.
That leads us into August where the Mouse House is going for a strong finish with their first “non-sequel” of the summer, “Christopher Robin.” Sure, it isn’t exactly an unknown commodity, but this live-action version, starring Ewan McGregor in the title role, looks downright refreshing after 14 major sequels have blown through multiplexes in the span of just three months.
An opening of $30M-$35M may be the honeypot Disney is looking for as adults will want to reminisce, and young kids will no doubt be enthralled by talking stuffed animals. That’s the key here, and maybe the filmmakers owe a bit of debt to the wild success of Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted,” which used the same CGI technology to bring his endearing, yet foul-mouthed fiend to life.
If teens show up as well, “Christopher Robin” may just power past “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and swipe the #1 spot this weekend as Cruise’s latest should land with another $30M-$35M, as well.
Further down the line will be a jumbled logjam of new releases, although Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon’s comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” might surprise with upwards of $15M.
Looking like typical August fodder is Fox’s “The Darkest Minds.” It doesn’t take a genius to realize it appears to be another contrived YA adaption, featuring kids in an dystopian wasteland that develop…wait for it…super powers. Thankfully, no spandex was harmed in the making of this flop, and it cost just $34M. Still, it will no doubt be a flop as it will likely debut with less than $10M.
It’s been an almost unheard of summer for documentary films, as “RBG,” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and “Three Identical Strangers” all performed above and beyond what was expected of them, and that continues, sort of, with Dinesh D’Souza’s latest piece of propaganda, “Death of a Nation.”
No doubt it will be a moderate success—possibly upwards of $3M in 1,000+ theaters—but whether or not it’s a documentary lies in the eye of the beholder. D’Souza has had plenty of success, billing himself as the anti-Michael Moore.
He’s correct in a sense–and by sense I mean cents–his films have scored huge numbers by documentary standards: “2016 Obama’s America” ($33M), “America” ($14M), “Hillary’s America” ($13M).
Still, for a summer that didn’t necessarily have many indie breakouts, documentaries really broke through and hopefully started a trend that will be around awhile.
Speaking of indie flicks, “Hereditary,” was really the lone exception so far this summer, although that film really picked up the horror slack as “The First Purge,” which certainly wasn’t for everyone, was the only other major chill pill in wide release this summer.
The jury is still out on A24’s other film, “Eighth Grade,” which will expand wide this weekend into over 1,000 venues. Bo Burnham’s directorial debut has seen some of the highest marks of the summer in terms of per-theater-average and critical response, but its major test will be finding audiences in the heartland, which last year’s “The Florida Project” and this summer’s “Sorry To Bother You” failed to do.
Last year, August got off to a rough start with “The Dark Tower” and never fully recovered. This summer may have a few more success stories though, as “Christopher Robin,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Meg,” and “The Happytime Murders” may provide the heat necessary to finish off the summer with a blast instead of a bust.
- Mission: Impossible – Fallout – $33M
- Christopher Robin – $30M
- The Spy Who Dumped Me – $13M
- Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again – $9M
- The Equalizer 2 – $8M
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.