Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview!

And the “Dog Days of Summer” are officially upon us… or maybe in this case, it’s the “Bird Days”? (Sorry… stupid joke.)

If last week might be considered the “doldrums” with five new movies trying to make an impact, we’re now fully into the famed dog days, and next week probably isn’t going to be much better. At this point in the summer, if a movie makes more than $20 million, it’s considered a massive hit, and that’s both new and returning movies.

Sure, there have been movies that have overcome this late summer lag like 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard and last year’s Crazy Rich Asians, both which showed solid legs with three weeks at #1, but those are rarities. There could be some leggy movies released that find an audience eventually, but this weekend begins three rougher weeks, for sure.

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THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2 (Sony)

Angry Birds
Sony Pictures Animation

Voice Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Leslie Jones, Sterling K. Brown, Eugenio Derbez, Tiffany Haddish, Danny McBride, Peter Dinklage, Pete Davidson, Maya Rudolph, Tony Hale
Directed By: Thurop Van Orman (directorial debut of writer of The Powerpuff GirlsandThe Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, the latter of which he also directed two episodes)
MPAA Rating: PG

The summer isn’t quite over yet, which means we still have room for a few more sequels, and that’s exactly what we’re gonna get, whether you want more sequels or not. This summer has been heavily affected by “sequelitis,” but most of the summer’s sequels were made before realizing that.That’s certainly the case for this sequel to Sony Pictures Animation’s sequel to the 2016 movie based on the popular Rovio smartphone and tablet game that has created so many different variations that you can literally sit on your phone playing for days without running out of games. And people do.

Opening in mid-May 2016, The Angry Birds Movie took in a solid $38.1 million and made $107 million domestically. More importantly, it made $244.8 million overseas, reason enough to greenlight a sequel.

The movie has an amazing voice cast with the returning voice cast of Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Peter Dinklage, being joined by Leslie Jones from Saturday Night Live, Eugenio Debez (from last week’s Dora disappointment) and Tiffany Haddish… who also had a movie last week and seems to be getting voice cast in EVERY animated movie now.

The thing is that most kids won’t care about who is providing the voices and frankly, I’m not sure parents will care either as this will be something to keep their younger kids entertained. Unlike the first movie, which had a novelty factor, this seems like a contractually-obligated sequel no one wants, so it won’t bring in the teen or older crowd, who have plenty of other options.

In an odd turn, Sony Pictures decided that Wednesday wasn’t early enough for the release of this sequel so they recently moved it to Tuesday morning. One has to imagine that having three school-less days of the movie in theaters might take away from the weekend business. Reviews so far haven’t been bad either so maybe this isn’t the disaster some might be expecting.

I can see this making around $6 to 7 in its first three weekdays with no school to keep the kids busy and possibly another $17 to 20 million over the weekend, but that’s already less in six days than the original movie made in three. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see this fall to the “sequilitis” that has afflicted so many sequels this summer, including The Secret Life of Pets.

GOOD BOYS (Universal)

Good Boys
Universal Pictures

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noone, Keith L. Williams, Will Forte, Lil Rel Howery, Molly Gordon, Izaac Wang, Millie Davis, Josh Caras, Michela Watkins
Directed By: Gene Stupnitsky (Directorial debut for co-writer of Bad Teacherand Year One)
MPAA Rating: R

In between two of the sequels we have a refreshingly original comedy from the minds of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, or rather, they’re producing the movie that comes from the minds of Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, who wrote the hit comedy Bad Teacher and the late Harold Ramis comedy Year One.

It stars the young, talented star of the Oscar-nominated drama Room, Jacob Tremblay, as well as a couple newer young actors in Brady Noone and Keith L. Williams. They play three best friends in 6th grade who decide to crash a party with older kids and decide they need to learn how to kiss first… raunchy inappropriate hilarity ensues. There are a few adults in there, too, including Will Forte and Lil Rel Howery from Get Out, but the focus is really being put on the young cast and their exploits.

The good thing is that there’s definitely room for an R-rated comedy and many movies in this vein that have done decent business in late August, from The Pineapple Express to the animated Sausage Party. Pineapple Express grossed $87.3 million back in August 2008 after making $41 million in its first five days (it opened on Wednesday), while Sausage Party almost cracked $100 million three years ago after a $34.3 million opening. What else do these three movies have in common? The fact they’re all Rogen-Goldberg productions, although Rogen’s rom-com Long Shot earlier this summer may have shown that the duo’s formula may be losing steam. (Fortunately, they’re doing great with R-rated television shows like Preacher and The Boys.)

You do have to wonder whether the younger age of the stars might put a few people off, but the movie did premiere at the SXSW Film Festival back in March, proving that Universal had confidence in the movie.  Reviews have generally been favorable, and I was in tears laughing when I saw it.

On the one hand, Good Boys is probably the strongest movie of the weekend because it’s an original comedy, much like the movies mentioned above. It’s also likely to be compared to Superbad, similar to Booksmart earlier this summer, and that only made $22.7 million after a $7 million opening. One has to assume that Universal’s clout should help this one.

Maybe it’ll be a tougher sell for 20-somethings because it has younger kids in the leads, but it should still be good for around $15 to 17 million this weekend, and I wouldn’t be too  surprised if it bests Angry Birds on the weekend to take #1 either.

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED (Entertainment Studios)

47 Meters Down
Entertainment Studios

Cast: Sistine Stallone, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju, Sophie Nelisse, Brec Bassinger, Khylin Rhambo, Davi Santos, John Corbett, Nia Long
Directed By: Johannes Roberts (47 Meters DownThe Strangers: Prey at Night)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

A few years back, fledgling distributor Entertainment Studios picked up Johannes Roberts deep-sea thriller 47 Meters Down, a movie that was destined for a straight-to-home-entertainment release after sitting on the shelf for years. They released it into 2,270 theaters in the middle of summer 2017 and had a decent $11.2 million opening on its way to $44.3 million.

With that sort of success – the movie reportedly cost $5 million to make — Roberts decided to pursue a sequel that at one point was called 48 Meters Down. This one is about four teen girls who find an underwater city and as they swim deeper into the caves, the end up comng face to face with …. SHARKS!

As with many horror movies, this one is relying on a fairly no-name cast that’s led by Sistine Stallone, who you guessed it, is Sylvester Stallone’s daughter. It also stars Corrine Foxx, who is indeed the daughter of Jamie Foxx.Unfortunately, Brec Bassinger is NOT related to Kim Bassinger or else we might have an all 2nd-Gen cast for this one. Regardless, few will be seeing this movie for these actresses as much as they’ll go see the movie in hopes they’ll be chewed apart by sharks. I mean, that is why we go to see shark movies, right? (Although the original 47 Meters Down starred pop singer Mandy Moore, it’s hard to imagine she had much to do with getting people into theaters.)

This is coming out a little over a month after Paramount had a decent hit with the alligator movie Crawl, which has grossed $38 million after a $12 million opening, which isn’t bad for a movie that cost $13.5 million.

The sequel is opening in an equally busy weekend with just as much direct competition, including last week’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Its PG-13 rating should help interest teens who are still out of school and might not be able to get into the R-rated Good Boys, but this is still coming out later in the summer in a period when moviegoing slows down. I still think Uncaged will open around the same place as its predecessor, enough to open in fourth place just behind Hobbs and Shaw.

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT (New Line/WB)

Blinded by the Light
New Line/WB

Cast: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Aaron Phagura, Dean-Charles Chapman, Nell Williams, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon
Directed By: Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, and more)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

One of the true underdogs of the weekend is this Sundance favorite based on the memoir “Greetings From Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll” by British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor about how the music of Bruce Springsteen saved his lowly life with a strict Pakistani father in Luton, England during the mid-‘80s Thatcher years as the National Front’s racism was spreading.

This is the latest movie from Gurinder Chadha, who first got attention with the soccer movie Bend It Like Beckham, starring a very young Keira Knightley. That was back in 2003 and it grossed $32.5 million domestically, but few of her movies since then have gotten much attention, at least not here in the States.

This is a pretty amazing and risky move by New Line who picked the movie up at Sundance after it received glowing reviews.  Starring newcomer Viveik Kalra as Sharfraz, the only real known name actor among the cast is Rob Brydon, who is best for his “Trip to” movies with Steve Coogan, and Hayley Atwell, best known as Agent Peggy Carter from the Captain America movies.

New Line are hoping that Springsteen’s huge fanbase will bring out a fairly large number of people who want to support the Boss. Granted, I’m not sure there’s a huge cross-section on the Venn Diagram of Bruce Springsteen fans with Indian and Pakistani moviegoers who might want to see Manzoor’s story, but hey, it’s either this or one of the sequels above.

New Line is only opening the movie in roughly 2,000 theaters, which is less than the other offerings this week, but we have to expect that word-of-mouth from the movie’s various festival showings should help create interest. With that in mind, Blinded by the Light should be able to make around $7 million this weekend or slightly more as Bruce fans and the generally curious come out to see it. If the movie plays as well for general audiences as it did at Sundance and CinemaCon, it should have decent late-summer legs and could make $25 to 30 million or more.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE (U.A. Releasing)

Bernadette
U.A. Releasing

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Laurence Fishburne, Emma Nelson, Judy Greer, James Urbaniak, Zoe Chao
Directed By: Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Before Midnight, School of Rock and SO MANY MORE!!!!)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Next, we have the latest film from Oscar-nominee Richard Linklater, who seems to have been floundering since his Oscar-winning 12-year project Boyhoodback in 2014. That movie grossed $25.3 million, which is pretty good for indie distributor IFC Films, but his two movies since then – Everybody Wants Some!! and Last Flag Flying– ended up with less than $5 million each.

Linklater’s latest attempt at mainstream acceptance is a comedy starring Cate Blanchett, based on the 2012 book by Maria Semple, in which she plays a rather unpleasant woman named Bernadette Fox who used to be an on-the-rise architect before moving to Seattle. Once there, she tries to raise her teen daughter Bee (newcomer Emma Nelson) but ends up in a feud with her neighbor, played by Kristen Wiig.  The Oscar-winning actress is surrounded by another great cast including Laurence Fishburne (who also starred in Last Flag), Billy Crudup and Judy Greer. The trailers have generally made this look like a funny movie that’s also empowering for (mostly older) women. 

Because Linklater is a fairly known commodity among filmgoers, Bernadetteis going to rely heavily on reviews, and frankly, and without sbreaking the embargo, I’m not sure this will get so many. It’s partially because critics have higher expectations for Linklater’s work, but also because it’s mid-August and few critics expect to be many winners released in the time period. One imagines that if this were considered another awards contender, it would have premiered at one of the September festivals ala Last Flag Flying.

Making matters worse, it was reported that U.A. Releasing had been looking into filing for bankruptcy, which doesn’t bode well for a movie trying to release a high-profile movie like this one.

Opening in just over 2,400 theaters, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is going to try to break into the top 10 with around $5 million or slightly more, but don’t be too surprised if it’s edged out by last week’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, which should benefit from word-of-mouth.

In fact, this weekend is somewhat odd due to it being the second weekend of five new movies, which is going to make the entry point to get into the top 10 much higher than usual.  Essentially, two of the above new movies will be in a tight race for first place this weekend, followed by a mess of returning movies in the $10 to 12 million range with 47 Meters Downin that mix. Blinded by the Light and Bernadettewill likely wind up somewhere in the bottom half of the top 10 as other movies, even a couple that opened last week, will be pushed out of the top 10.

This Week’s Box Office Predictions:

  1. The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Sony) – $17.8 million N/A (with another $6 to 7 million between Tuesday and Thursday)
  2. Good Boys (Universal) – $15.5 million N/A
  3. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (Universal) – $12.5 million -51%
  4. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (Entertainment Studios) – $11.6 million N/A
  5. The Lion King (Walt Disney) – $11 million -46%
  6. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (CBS Films/Lionsgate) – $10 million -52%
  7. Dora and the Lost City of Gold (Paramount) – $9.2 million -47%
  8. Blinded by the Light (New Line/WB) – $7.5 million N/A
  9. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (Sony) – $6.8 million -40%
  10. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (U.A. Releasing) – $5.4 million N/A

There aren’t a ton of limited releases that might have mass interest, although FUNimation Films is releasing the historic action film Kingdom, which is based on the popular Japanese manga by Yasuhisa Hara. It’s a Japanese film set entirely in 3rdCentury China, so we’ll have to see if it finds similar success as some of FUNimation’s previous releases. Also, Salvador Simó‘s award-winning animated film Bunũel in the Labyrinth of Turtles, released by GKIDS in New York and L.A. on Friday, is an interesting look at the Spanish surrealist filmmaker’s attempts to make a documentary in an impoverished village in central Spain.

Next week, the Dog Days of Summer get even doggier with yet another sequels, the Gerard Butler actioneer Angel Has Fallen, the horror film Ready or Not and the faith-based Overcomer.

1 COMMENT

  1. Surprised the Linklater film is getting such a wide release. It might do better in art houses than multiplexes, where patrons are probably more interested in the Angry Birds movie.

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