Springtime is upon us, folks. The rollerblades are getting dusted off, the girls start breaking out the short shorts and working on their tans, and the guys start taking walks so they can enjoy the new scenery. It certainly is a fine time of year, but the main reason is because the spring is just an appetizer for the summer, where the days are longer and the skirts and shorts are shorter. And along with this, in order to beat the heat on a hot summer day, many flock to the local theater to check out the latest summer blockbuster.
So, before the mercury starts to rise, I'll take a look at all the major releases between May and August. I'm also going to test out a new feature that will appear on my column starting next week, Box Office Predictions. For this summer preview, I'll just predict the opening weekend grosses and the total grosses, but on the column, there will be a little more too it, so stay tuned for that. Also, all release dates are subject to change. So, let's light up a smoke, and go for broke on this huge summer preview!
May 6Kingdom of Heaven:
This new Ridley Scott epic marks the start of the summer movie season, in a most interesting fashion. I honestly didn't recognize Orlando Bloom from the one-sheet when I first saw it. The hair and the build looked more like Hugh Jackman than the scrawny Bloom. Either he is wearing some extensize body armour to enhance his wiry frame, or he has been paying BALCO a visit or three. This aside, this looks like a solid start to the summer season. Director Ridley Scott obviously has some experience in this type of flick (See: Gladiator) and Bloom's supporting cast looks fairly solid as well, with Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson and newcomer Eva Green. The real X-factor here will be rookie screenwriter William Monahan, who makes his screenwriting debut here, but has some high-profile projects in the works like Jurassic Park IV, Martin Scorcese's The Departed and the oft-delayed Tripoli, now slated for a 2007 release. Scott and Bloom's success should draw audiences into the theaters, but Monahan's script might be the determining factor on whether they draw even more. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $45 million; Total Gross - $125 million.
This flick provided one of the funniest/ironic movie news stories of last year, when a set from this movie started on fire and delayed production. Wow, didn't see that coming from a movie called House of Wax. It's a good thing this wasn't called House of C4...Anyway, this flick certainly has a prime release date, but the cast is too shaky. Elisha Cuthbert is wonderful, and she deserves to be an A-list star, but I don't think starring alongside Paris Hilton and some other young scrubs will help her out too much. This is along the same lines as too many recent "horror" flicks to mention here - kids get stranded, spooky things happen, blah blah blah. Still, the kids still go for this sort of thing, so this will probably be able to scare up a modest profit. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $22 million; Total Gross - $68 million.
I don't think they keep records for this, but if there was a record for longest time span between the end of a movie's filming and it's release date, Mindhunters would surely be up there, along with another possible record for number of release date shifts. This flick wrapped filming in May 2002, so three years later, we finally get to see it. I have wanted to see it for awhile, actually, with this decent cast (Val Kilmer, Clifton Collins Jr. and LL Cool J) and intriguing plot about some hot-shot FBI profilers who find out that one of their own is a killer. If they market this right, and downplay the 3-year delay, Dimension could see a profit here from the modest $27 million budget. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $15 million; Total Gross - $45 million.
This flick will open up in limited release, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it expanded significantly. Writer-director Paul Haggis is fresh off his writing turn for Best Picture Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby, and that should surely help this flick out. The cast here is very diverse with Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser (remember him?), Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillipe (remember him, too?) and even new talk-show host Tony Danza. The trailer for this is wonderful, and hopefully Haggis can ride his Oscar wave to some success for this flick. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $1.2 million; Total Gross - $30 million.
May 13Kicking and Screaming:
What would a summer be without the comic stylings of Will Ferrell? This will be the third summer in a row that he has a summer flick, and the second summer in a row that he has the starring role. I wasn't a fan of Anchorman because Ferrell just went way too far over the top when it wasn't needed. So, what's the cure for that? Give him a role where over-the-top is golden: an obnoxious kids soccer coach obsessed with winning. I think he'll shine in this role, and I laughed hysterically when I saw the trailer. He has some supporting help around him in the great Robert Duvall, and it will be interesting to see how comic helmer Jesse Dylan (How High, American Wedding) will handle Ferrell. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $50 million; Total Gross - $175 million.
This flick re-teams writer Luc Besson and director Louis Leterrier, who previously worked on The Transporter, and this new flick looks a little too dark for a summer release. The story centers around Jet Li's character, who has lived his whole life uneducated, and he's basically a human dog, kept under mind control and trained to savagely fight for his master. When an accident happens, he has to learn the ways of the world, from a blind man played by Morgan Freeman. Yeah, it does sound pretty weird, but the trailer looks promising, with Jet Li showing some unique range. I'm not sure how this will fare alongside Ferrell's Kicking and Screaming, but if this is marketed enough, it could find a niche for summer moviegoers who want something different, which this definitely should be. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $8.5 million; Total Gross - $32 million.
Well, as Martina McBride said, "This one's for the girls" (damn those Women's Final Four commercials on ESPN). What I find interesting about this movie is the Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez connection here. I'll explain: This movie stars Jennifer Lopez and Michael Vartan. J-Lo was going out with Ben Affleck, who is currently seeing Jennifer Garner, whose recent ex is, you guessed it, Michael Vartan. Those between-take conversations had to have been interesting. But, as far as the movie is concerned, this looks horrible. The story is retarded and played out, J-Lo's career is far from hot, Vartan isn't even a C-list star, Jane Fonda hasn't been in a movie since the senior Bush's administration (honestly, since 1990), the writer is a first-timer and the director, Robert Luketic, is a one-hit wonder (Legally Blonde) that won't go away. I wouldn't even see this movie if I went with J-Lo herself, but I'm sure it will still do some decent business at the box office, unfortunately. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $21 million; Total Gross - $74 million.
This flick will be out in limited release, but with director Matthew Vaughn's rising stock as of late, this could expand fairly wide. He came into moderate prominence as the producer of Guy Ritchie's wonderful British crime flicks, Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and he wrote and directed Layer Cake. The trailer looks like it has a similar style as Ritchie's, but maybe a tad darker in tone. He is obviously impressing Hollywood, since he just signed on to direct the third movie in the highly successful X-Men series. This should be one to keep an eye on, folks. If it has a good start, it might be coming to a theater near you. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $3.5 million; Total Gross - $57 million.
There is only one movie (or series of movies) that can pick a release date and have every other movie running for the hills, and that movie this year is the culmination of the first trilogy, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. I don't know why George Lucas likes Thursday's so much, but it doesn't really matter. He could release this on a Tuesday and have the whole week to himself, just like this Thursday release is the sole movie out on this weekend. This is probably the most highly anticipated movie of all-time, and from the looks of the extraordinary trailer, Lucas and Co. will deliver, and then some. All of the pieces of the puzzle will come together here, and if this isn't the highest grossing movie of the year, I'll be very surprised. It's sad that this wonderful cinematic saga is at it's end, but I just know it's going out with a huge frickin bang, baby. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $122 million; Total Gross - $515 million.
May 27The Longest Yard:
I've got a feeling that this won't open at #1, but what can you expect in following the final Star Wars flick? Still, I think this will perform nicely, opening on the extended Memorial Day weekend. This remake features a very diverse cast, with actors Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Burt Reynolds, Courtney Cox; professional wrestlers Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Goldberg; ex-pro football players Michael Irvin, Bill Romanowski, Brian Bosworth and even a rapper thrown in to boot, with Nelly. The story here is great, with a bunch of convicts teaming up to play football against the guards, and it will be interesting to see how this cast blends together. The screenwriter, Sheldon Turner is another super-hot writer lately, making his writing debut here, but, like William Monahan, with several hot projects on the horizon, including a Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel. It should be interesting to see what he can come up with for this flick, but this cast should be big enough to draw a healthy amount to the theaters. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $38 million; Total Gross - $124 million.
Dreamworks Animation scored big last year with the box office champion Shrek 2, but I doubt they will mirror that kind of success with Madagascar. The voice cast is just very odd, with the likes of Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Andy Richter, Jada Pinkett Smith and Chris Rock, who is competing with himself for Memorial Day supremacy. How quaint. The premise here is somewhat interesting - some caged animals at the Central Park Zoo wind up on a boat to Madagascar and realize how different life in the wild is. It doesn't really sound like a concept that kids will get excited about, and this goofy voice cast doesn't really command much with adults either. It will probably have a decent opening weekend and falter after that. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $32 million; Total Gross - $68 million.
June 3Cinderella Man:
Since getting his first taste of the Oscars in 1999 with his nomination for his subtle performance in The Insider, it seems Russell Crowe has only been choosing projects that will get him another little gold man, and Cinderella Man certainly seems to be right up that alley. He's re-teaming Ron Howard, who directed him in his Oscar-winning role in A Beautiful Mind, and he has a solid supporting cast behind him, with Oscar snub Paul Giamatti and Renee Zellweger. I'm surprised they're giving this a summer release, because it looks like some big-time Oscar bait, maybe even for Giamatti too. The $64,000 question here is if they can pull off a summer-time Oscar winner like Crowe did with Gladiator, and if serious fare like this can equate to blockbuster box office numbers. Tom Hanks couldn't pull it off last year with The Terminal, but we'll see if Crowe can pull it off. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $26 million; Total Gross - $95 million.
Lords of Dogtown:
This movie kind of pisses me off. For one, this was good the first time I saw it...when it was the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys. The documentary was great, and now it seems that they're spitting all over it, by bringing in some "stars" to play the skateboarders and spinning the story a bit into a Hollywood summer blockbuster. Now, I have no problem with making movies that are based off true stories, but the point here is there already IS a movie that tells the true story without the stars and souped-up story. The kicker is that the director of the documentary, Stacy Peralta, wrote the screenplay for this, so it seems like he's just out to make a fast buck, off his own story (Dogtown and Z-Boys grossed just over $1 million.) and it just seems wrong to me. Sure, this flick might be some good summer fun, but it just seems to be all about the proverbial "benjamins" for Peralta. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $30 million; Total Gross - $106 million.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants:
Ugh. I don't think Hollywood understands that girls like guy flicks more than "chick" flicks, with a few exceptions like Legally Blonde. You'll be more likely to find a group of younger girls see a movie with any "hottie" star like Vin Diesel, than a chick bonding flick like this one. This one seems to be aimed at the 18-22 year old female, with a story that would be more effective in a younger age range. Plus, this flick has some heavy competition, both flicks with aforementioned "hotties" in them that will likely lure the girls away from this flick, and, on top of all that, they have no real stars here, and faces that most won't recognize. Hell, why else do you think they have a butt on the poster instead of the face of one of the "stars" of the movie? Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $9 million; Total Gross - $28 million.
June 10Mr. and Mrs. Smith:
This is such a perfect summer movie, it's not even funny. It has everything the summer moviegoer could ask for: a smoking hot cast with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie starring and Angela Bassett, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington and Vince Vaughn backing them up, a slick storyline (an average married couple realizes they're both assassins hired to take each other out), gunfights, explosions, sexy people and all that summertime jazz. This one is going to swing for the fences, and it has a perfect release date, almost a month after the new Star Wars flick, just when audiences are itching for something new, and it has very little competition standing in its way. This one is gonna be huge, folks. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $75 million; Total Gross - $240 million.
This one, will not be heading to the moon, ladies and gentlemen. Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps are going up against box office heavyweights Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and these honeymooners don't even have a fighting chance. The trailer here was horrible, and while Cedric is one funny guy, Epps really isn't. Besides, I just don't see the worth in bringing this old-school TV show to a new generation. If they use any references to the show, they'll be lost, and it isn't likely that anyone old enough to have enjoyed the show will want to see this sort of a remake anyway. This might have had a shot a few months ago in January and February, where the box office was as cold as the temperature, but in the sizzle of June, this will surely fizzle. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $6 million; Total Gross - $18 million.
June 17Batman Begins:
Remember when I said no other flick besides the new Star Wars flick could assure being the only new release in a summer weekend? Well, I guess I should correct myself, because this Batman prequel has summoned the same sort of power, although I'm not at all surprised. This ensemble cast might not have as much star power than the phenomenal Sin City, but it has just as much, if not more talent. The marvelous Christian Bale leads the way as the Batman with a smashing supporting cast of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Ken Wantanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, and, my future wife, Katie Holmes. This flick plants the seeds of Bruce Wayne turning into the Dark Knight, and with Bale starring (and hopefully earning some mainstream recognition here) and David S. Goyer (the Blade series) writing with the incredible Christopher Nolan, and Nolan directing, this one should make Batman fans long forget the debacle that was Batman & Robin. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $85 million; Total Gross - $300 million.
This certainly is an odd way to do a remake. They're doing it in present day, with Will Ferrell playing a big-time actor, who is doing a remake of the original TV show. So, he is going to play Darren, but he's searching for his Samantha, who he finds in Nicloe Kidman...but Kidman's character is a real witch, and high jinks and hilarity supposedly ensue. I still don't know what to think of this. A part of me (a very small part) thinks this is fairly creative and the rest of me thinks this is just utterly retarded. They've got the huge star power of Ferrell and Kidman, and I'm glad they enlisted the scene-stealing talent of Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert, both The Daily Show alums, along with other great supporting cast members in Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzbaum and David Allan Grier. However, I'm sketchy about director Nora Ephron, whose long history of chick flicks makes me wonder how much of this will be comedy, and how much will be as sappy as a maple syrup tree. However, Ferrell and Kidman should be able to draw plenty to the theater, with only the lovely Lindsey Lohan for competition this weekend. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $36 million; Total Gross - $115 million.
This one should be rather interesting. They're bringing back the old franchise about the #53 Bug with magical powers, which I think is a good idea. The old movies were little guilty pleasure flicks (i.e. you wouldn't tell your friends you liked them, but secretly you did), and I think now is a good time to bring it back. I know NASCAR is super popular and everything, but Herbie racing NASCAR? Come on. I know this is the movie world of make believe, but there still is nothing feasible about the Bug running against Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who has a cameo) and the rest of the NASCAR boys. It seems like they're just hoping NASCAR fans and Lindsey Lohan admirers will just show up hypnotically in droves and make this movie a ton of money, because the rest of the movie, along with the dopey supporting cast of Breckin Meyer, Matt Dillon and Michael Keaton, just doesn't seem like it's worth seeing. Besides, you really can't get a good look of Lohan's spectacular body when she's wearing a fire suit, can you... Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $11 million; Total Gross - $34 million.
June 29War of the Worlds:
This flick marks the first Wednesday release of the summer season, and that usually means the studio is expecting very big things, and I don't blame them. Besides Batman Begins, this movie has probably the most overall talent, both behind and in front of the camera. In front of the camera we have box office favorite Tom Cruise, who is looking to score his 14th movie to go over $100 million, alongside Tim Robbins and the immensely talented young actress, Dakota Fanning. Behind the camera we have superstar screenwriter David Koepp, who has written such blockbusters as Spider-Man, Mission: Impossible and Jurassic Park, and at the helm we have this guy named Steven Spielberg. Maybe you've heard of him... We don't get a whole lot from the trailer, but it seems like this has all the elements for a summer blockbuster. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend (3-day) - $63 million (5-day) - $92 million; Total Gross - $220 million.
July 8Fantasic Four:
This flick should pull the comic book genre out of the doldrums. The only true blockbuster to come out of the comic book genre in the last few years was last year's Spider-Man 2, and while Sin City, should turn a decent profit, Elektra and Constantine both failed to make any money this year. The Fantastic Four should change that trend. With a prime early July release date, a superb cast (Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffud, Chris Evans and Julian McMahon), and Mr. and Mrs. Smith writer Simon Kinberg handling the script, this looks like a winner. The big X-factor here is director Tim Story, whose only foray into action is the chase scenes in Taxi. I thought the movie sucked, but Story handled the action rather nicely, and it should be interesting to see how he can handle a big-budget flick with tons of CGI effects. I think the comic book is too huge and the cast is too talented, so this should bring in a fantastic amount of cash for Fox. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $62 million; Total Gross - $185 million.
This sort of dark fare isn't very common among summer blockbusters, and this flick's likely failure should prove this point with a bullet. First, they're going up against a monster in Fantastic Four, second, this is one of the goofiest casts I've seen in quite awhile, with the slumping Jennifer Connoly, Shelley Duval (she's still alive?), Tim Roth, John C. Reiley, Camryn Manheim and Peter Postlethwaite, and, third, this sounds like a rip-off of The Grudge. This just is the wrong movie, with the wrong cast at the wrong time. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $8 million; Total Gross - $25 million.
This is the first true kids movie of the summer, and it has a lot going for it, for both the kids and adults, a formula which has proven to be successful in recent years. For the kids, there is a wonderful story, full of fantasy and the devilshly delightful side of Johnny Depp along with his Finding Neverland co-star Freddie Highmore. For the young adults, there is the revival of the story that many grew up watching, re-tooled by the team who brought us the heartfelt Big Fish, screenwriter John August and visionary director Tim Burton. Burton, best known for darker fare, looks like he's on a roll with his lighter-side filmmaking. This should find a niche between all the action-heavy blockbusters this summer, and provide some lighter entertainment for the whole family. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $45 million; Total Gross - $130 million.
Summertime is wedding season, and this flick shows us a different side of weddings. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play some anti-commitments who hit up weddings and go after the single women at the reception. These two are perfectly cast, and the up-and-coming Rachel McAdams fits nicely in the mix as well. There will also be a cameo from Will Ferrell, who apparently just can't get enough of these summer flicks, and Christopher Walken. This is the first adult comedy of the summer, and it'll contrast the Chocolate Factory nicely, giving the big kids something to head to the theater for as well. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $25 million; Total Gross - $97 million.
Into the Blue:
From the plot summary here, I can summarize this easily as the flop Extreme Ops set in the water instead of the mountains, and using divers that run into bad guus instead of "extreme" snowboarders running into bad guys. The "Jessica Alba in a bikiki" factor should be cancelled out with the "Starring Paul Walker" factor...although, I have to admit if I'm at all bored during the week or so this will be in theaters, I will see it, for the "Jessica Alba in a bikini" factor, which is the same sort of logic behind me seeing Blue Crush. Ironically enough, director John Stockwell helmed both Blue Crush, and this movie. O.K., you bastard. You can have my money (at matinee prices), but don't expect me to like it, or get many more to follow suit, both in seeing it and liking it. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $8 million; Total Gross - $27 million.
July 22The Island:
This weekend will be the most hotly contested weekend of the summer, with 5 major releases coming out. While there might be some movies shifting to a weekend with less competition, it's likely that this new Michael Bay flick will be here to stay, and is probably the front-runner for this huge weekend. This looks like a different Michael Bay than we've seen before. It doesn't look like the dumbed-down Bay fare from the past and it looks like Bay is taking a stab at a serious flick this time. His cast is usually filled with teen heartthorbs, here he has some serious talent with Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi, Sean Bean and Michael Clarke Duncan. It will be worth a look, just to see how Bay handles this sci-fi/drama hybrid, and from the look of the trailer, it looks like a new Michael Bay is on the horizon. We'll have to see, though, if the old Michael Bay's cha-ching at the box office will hold up in this new project, but I have a feeling it'll do just fine. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $44 million; Total Gross - $135 million.
This perfectly timed remake could give The Island a run for its money. I can't think of anyone more perfect for the role that Walter Mathau shined at in 1976, than Billy Bob Thornton, fresh off his dirtball role in Bad Santa. There aren't many actors who are so good at being so bad than Thornton. Throw in some bratty plus the writing team who brought us Bad Santa and director Richard Linklater, enjoying some success back in the mainstream with School of Rock, and you have one grand slam of a movie. Besides, it's baseball season, and, since steroid accusations have almost taken over the game, this might be a breath of fresh, yet foul-mouthed air. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $38 million; Total Gross - $124 million.
It's funny how things work out in Hollywood, isn't it? It almost seemed for awhile that Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses wasn't even going to make it to the theaters. It was rejected by practically every studio in town before Lions Gate Films decided to roll the dice with it. While the results weren't exactly earth-shaking ($12.5 million gross from a $7 million budget), the flick did attain a cult-ish following on video and DVD, hence the sequel. Zombie's style is certainly unique, and he enlisted a very unique cast including some hard-nosed actors like Steven Railsback, Willaim Forsythe and Danny Trejo. You might not recognize their names, but you'll surely recognize their faces. There are some surprises here too, like Rosario Dawson, Natasha Lyonne, professional wrestler "Diamond" Dallas Page and Leslie Easterbrook, who is best known for playing the busty Callahan in the Police Academy series. Crazy, eh? This cast alone, in this sort of movie should make this worth seeing, along with Zombie's direction. They should've picked a weekend with less competition, though, but we'll have to wait and see if this can make a dent or not. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $13 million; Total Gross - $39 million.
Oh, Martin Lawrence. I have to admire your ambition. Sure, you can muster up a hit movie if you have someone like Will Smith by your side (See: the Bad Boys series), but when you're on your own, you usually falter (See: Black Knight and National Security). But you keep on pushing, don't you Martin, even if it's a rip-off of every sports underdog movie on celluloid. Just face it, Martin. You need someone else you can vibe off of, and you just can't do it on your own. Sorry, man, but the box office results from your last few solo flicks just don't lie, and I don't see this movie bucking the trend. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $11 million; Total Gross - $31 million.
If the title wasn't cliche enough for you, get a load of the story. A divorced mom (Heather Locklear) packs up and moves to Tuscon, of all places, with her two kids (Hillary Duff and Aria Wallace) and they all help mommy look for said perfect man. Right. This sounds a lot like the recently surging The Upside of Anger, with the plot tweaked just a little bit and with a less-talented cast. There is even one of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guys and Chris Noth from Law & Order: Criminal Intent. This really doesn't even seem like a summer movie at all, and the cast and story just don't have enough to lure many into the theater. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $8 million; Total Gross - $23 million.
After a three-year hiatus from filmmaking, director Rob Cohen is back, and ready to do what he does best: make summer action flicks. Cohen had back-to-back summer successes in 2001 and 2002 with The Fast and the Furious and xXx. But after turning down the xXx sequel along with his star, Vin Diesel, Cohen needed something else to sink his teeth into, and Stealth appears to be that project. He has a better cast to work with this time, though, with uber-hot (in more ways than one) Jessica Biel, the talented but not quite mainstream Josh Lucas and the even hotter Jamie Foxx, fresh from the red carpet and his Oscar win (seriously, is it a rule that you HAVE to do an action flick after winning an Oscar?). The story seems like a spin-off of the Terminator series, with an artificial-intelligence stealth bomber working on its own and causing havoc. They haven't really devoted a full plotline to this sort of scenario, even though it is prevelant in the back-stories of the Terminator and Matrix series, so it will be interesting to see how they flesh that out. It will also be interesting to see how Cohen does as a screenwriter, something he hasn't done since hitting it big. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $31 million; Total Gross - $103 million.
While Stealth probably will end up being pretty decent, this flick has my utmost full attention for one reason: Terry Gilliam. The former Monty Python animator/director/performer (who hails from my native state of Minnesota, by the way) has long been one of my favorite directors, who is finally returning to the directors chair for the first time since 1998's hellacious/brilliant Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Another plus for this project is the brilliant screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Arlington Road, The Ring series). Gilliam usually does some script work for most of his movies, but since Kruger got sole credit, that leads me to believe he had total faith in it, and it's not surprising with a great writer like Kruger. Then there's the cast, with Matt Damon, who is always solid and Heath Ledger, who...well, at least he's under Gilliam this time. The story is quite intriguing as well, and now that the Oscars have been handed out for 2004, I'm glad this wasn't released in late 2004, as originally scheduled, because it was such a huge year, and this would've been overlooked. I'm not saying it's a lock for the Oscars now, but I think it has a better chance than it did last year. However, Gilliam doesn't quite have mainstream recognition yet, but with Damon and Ledger in tow, and a nice release date, don't count this one out to make some serious bank, even off of an $80 million budget. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $27 million; Total Gross - $96 million.
I always love making fun of these "desperate for love" stories, especially when they cast beautiful women like the lovely Diane Lane. Of course, they always make the beautiful women out to be some neurotic wreck that men instictively flee from. I'm not totally sure if this is the case here, but with this story, where her frickin family members signing her up for online dating services, I have a feeling it's headed that way. What they should've done is take out John Cusack as the supposed male love interest, get someone else, and cast his sister, Joan Cusack in Lane's role. Joan Cusack isn't ugly or anything, by any means, but I can see her fitting the role better, because she can do that neurotic thing pretty well, and, honestly, I just can't picture a stunner like Diane Lane single at all (in reality, she's married to Josh Brolin...lucky bastard). There just doesn't seem much right about this flick at all...except for seeing Diane Lane, that is. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $10 million; Total Gross - $29 million.
Apparently, The Rock's signature question from his WWE days, "Can you smell what the Rock is cookin?" has been answered, with that answer being video game adaptations. The Great One not only has this flick coming out, but he's also starring in the adaptation to the classic video game Spy Hunter (which I personally can't wait for). First up for The Rock, though, is Doom, a game that was popular back when The Rock was still layin the proverbial smackdown full-time in the WWE, but has seen recent popularity with sequels to the game. As far as the movie goes, this could be a late-summer winner. The Rock is steadily emerging as a bonafide action star, and Karl Urban is emerging as well. There isn't much here as far as the rest of the cast goes, but with The Rock, and the popularity of the video game should be able to scare up some decent business, even with a packed 5-movie weekend like this one. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $19 million; Total Gross - $71 million.
When the TV remake craze was in full swing a few years ago, I was surprised this flick never surfaced. Oh well, better late than never, yes yes? This remake has a pretty good cast here, with Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville taking the wheel of that classic orange Charger, and Willie Nelson is a perfect choice for Uncle Jesse and David Koechner is a nice choice to play the mechanic Cooter as well. Some of the other cast members have me at a loss, however. We have Burt Reynolds playing Boss Hogg. Umm O.K., but Boss Hogg was a, you know, a fat bastard in the show, and M.C. Gainey (he played "Swamp Thing" in Con Air) is a little too menacing to play the dopey Sherrif Roscoe P. Coltrane. And then there's Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke. Sure, she doesn't have much acting experience, but I'm all for her playing the girl who inspired the shortest of shorts. Do you want to know why? Well, I'll show you this, and this, and, good Lord, this. Damn, Daisy! Do that thing I like... Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $34 million; Total Gross - $125 million.
We don't get much on plot here, just that aforementioned four brothers all come together to seek revenge for their mother's death. The foursome consists of Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese, Outkast's Andre 3000 and Garrett Hedlund. Quite an interesting set of siblings, indeed. The big focus here, though, is director John Singleton, and whether he can return to the gritty glory of his debut film, Boyz N the Hood. Sure, he has had some mainstream success in the past few years, but I think this will have that mainstream success along with critical success as well. This is kind of a packed weekend, but I really think this will click with audiences, and slide in between Doom and Dukes of Hazzard for the 2 spot this weekend. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $28 million; Total Gross - $118 million.
This one could very well be the surprise of the summer. With this packed weekend, I can't see this getting released in any more than 1,500 theaters, but this could just keep on truckin along to a decent box office take. This is Mike Judge's follow-up to his cult smash Office Space, and if they're smart, they'll market this as "from the man who brought you Office Space" or some jazz like that, but even if they don't, they could be in decent shape anyway. The cast doesn't necessarily inspire confidence (Luke Wilson, Dax Shepard and SNL's Maya Rudolph), but then again, the same could've easily been said about Office Space, back in 1999. Audiences were drawn to Office Space (mainly on DVD, however) because of the story, and this story seems to be cut from the same cloth: a regular guy/Army soldier is sent 1,000 years into the future, and realizes that he could be the smartest man in that time. With a slick marketing campaign, this could see some theatrical success, but, like Office Space, I think most of its popularity will come with its DVD release. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $9 million; Total Gross - $41 million.
Ugh. Steve Martin is over the hill, Kevin Kline has been stuck in indies for the past few years, Beyonce...CAN'T ACT, and Jean Reno should pick his projects more carefully. I'm not even giving a prediction for this, because it is my utmost hope that every print disintegrates before hitting the theater...
August 12Aeon Flux:
It is apparently tradition to follow up a win for Best Actor or Actress with an action movie. The gorgeous Charlize Theron won her Best Actress Oscar for her dramatically non-gorgeous look and absolutely riveting performance in Monster, and now she's taking on the action flick Aeon Flux. Ten years ago, if you were an insomniac or enjoyed experimenting in certain drugs, you likely will remember Aeon Flux on late late night MTV programming. The flick is set some 400 years in the future, where, in 12 Monkeys fashion, disease has wiped out most of the world, leaving the survivors to be led by scientists. Flux is a part of an underground movement and sets out to kill one of the leaders, then all flux breaks loose. Charlize (do you mind if I call you Charlize?) hasn't starred in an action vehicle before, but after her performance in Monster, which many (including me) are lauding as one of the best performances of all time, I have total confidence that she can pull this off. Director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight) is entering new territory as well, in only her second flick. The TV show did have a cult following, but I doubt that will translate into big box office bucks, but with Theron on board, anything is possible. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $23 million; Total Gross - $85 million.
Oh come on. What happens this time, he tries to plug in his hair dryer in a European outlet, fries Antoine's house and has to man-whore again to pay the bill? That was a joke, but, honestly, it's a TON better than what is actually the story, where TJ tricks Deuce into man-whoring again in Amsterdam, but, tragically, man-whores are being killed there. Mother of God! Why don't they just bring in Scooby Frickin Doo to solve this mystery, that way we can get kill two sequels with one crappy movie/stone. I'll admit, shockingly, that I was rather amused with the original flick...but that doesn't mean I want to see it again, in a re-hashed version, set in another continent, with a story that makes The Animal look like Casablanca. Just go away, Rob Schneider, unless you have Sandler by your side. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $6 million; Total Gross - $19 million.
That crazy Ehren Kruger. This could be one hell of a year for him, with The Ring Two, The Brothers Grimm and this flick. I think this one will fare the worst, financially, but it should still manage to squeak in a profit. Kate Hudson is making a comeback of sorts here, and she's never done horror before, though she looks effective in the trailer, so it will be interesting to see how she does here. It's almost funny because this flick sounds a lot like The Grudge, and Kruger had written The Ring, an American remake of the Japanese Ringu and maybe Kruger wanted to write The Grudge, and he decided to do this instead. I thought The Grudge was rather dull, and I'll take a brilliant screenwriter like Kruger over The Grudge any day. Hopefully, moviegoers see it the same way. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $18 million; Total Gross - $49 million.
This looks like a great way to close out the summer. Not only is it a true story, but it's a rather unique one. This flick centers on Domino Harvey, the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey from the original The Manchurian Candidate. Domino was a model who seemed to have it all, and abruptly left it all behind to become, of all things, a bounty hunter. Keira Knightley stars as Domino, with a slick supporting cast of Mickey Rourke (what a comeback, Mickey!!), Mena Suvari, Lucy Lui and Christopher Walken. Knightley has been doin well as of late, and her rising star power should draw in a good amount to the theater, as well as the amazing true story. This should send the summer out in style. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $27 million; Total Gross - $65 million.
O.K., lets try to look at this logically. The top-lining star here is Cole Hauser, and he proved that he can tank a movie on his own already (See: Paparazzi). The story seems like a rip-off of Pitch Black, which Hauser also starred in. The supporting cast is crap, the writers are beginners and the director is making his feature film debut. So, to sum up, no big stars, or even talent in the cast, beginning filmmakers and a fairly unoriginal story. Yeah, I'm not too psyched about this one, but, sadly enough, it should make a little money. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $12 million; Total Gross - $36 million.
The master of horror, Wes Craven, has taken his chills and thrills to the sky. While watching the trailer, you could draw references from airplane drama flicks like Executive Decision, Air Force One, Passenger 57, etc. This one looks harmless enough, with Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy cozying up to each other on the flight. But, the lovely McAdams finds out that Murphy is a hitman and he's on the flight to kill someone and he gets her into the fold to help. It doesn't really sound like a "horror" movie, but then again, we don't get much of anything from the trailer. Still, with these two up-and-coming actors, and Craven directing, this should be well worth a look. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $10 million; Total Gross - $31 million.
The title alone makes me want to see this. It gets better that Steve Carrell is starring here, finally getting his shot in a starring role, after a few great scene-stealing roles in the past few years. Carrell plays this 40 year old guy who is normal in almost every aspect, except he just hasn't gotten around to having sex yet. So, he's egged on by his work buddies and he meets the lovely Catherine Keener. The buddies are excited until they find out that Carrell and Keener have started dating with a no-sex stipulation. There haven't been a lot of comedies this year, and maybe this flick could have our sides splitting to close out the summer. Box Office Prediction: Opening Weekend - $14 million; Total Gross - $40 million.
Whew! Well, now that my summer preview is done, I'm all pissed off that I have to wait so long to see some of these great summer flicks. Thanks for actually making it through to this point, because this is frickin long, but, there are a lot of summer flicks, and I'm rather opinionated, so there you go (I suggest reading this in spurts, since I wrote it in a week's worth of spurts). Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and come on back in a few days for my new The Week in Review column. Take care folks, and always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time...it probably isn't free.