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

It’s the 4thof July weekend, and this is not only the last big holiday weekend of the summer but it’s also the last big holiday for moviegoing until Thanksgiving. That’s four and a half months away!

The 4thof July has always been an interesting and equally frustrating holiday for box office prognosticators because there tends to be a mixed bag of “sure-fire” blockbuster sequels, but just as often, it sees the release of movies that don’t fit anywhere else in the summer season. That’s why you might have a big Will Smith movie one year, a Transformers sequel another and then something like Michael Mann’s Public Enemies or the Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy or something equally esoteric. The big movies released over 4thof July weekend have the benefit of people with extra days off from work, plus schools are already out, though they also are competing with BBQs, travelling and other stuff. To this date, 2011’s Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon remains the biggest 4thof July opener with less than $100 million over the three-day part of a four-day weekend that included the 4thof July on Monday. Spider-Man 2 in 2004 is next followed by the two Despicable Me sequels and then the first Transformers movie in 2007.

Sure, there will be other big movies this summer – we’re looking at you The Lion King– but until then, you can’t get much bigger than the third Marvel Studios movie of the year, especially when it’s following the $2.8 billion and counting Avengers: Endgame.

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SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (Sony Pictures)

Spider-Man
Sony Pictures

Cast: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Jacob Batalan, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Martin Starr, JB Smoov, Angourie Rice, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Tony Revolori
Directed By: Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Cop Car, Clown)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

I’m not going to get into the whole history of the Spider-Man franchise because there’s certain parts of it that are no longer pertinent especially since Sony teamed with Marvel Studios for 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming with Tom Holland taking over the webbed mask. There is certainly a few things we need to consider but mainly the three Spider-Man movies released over the 4th of July weekend – 2004’s Spider-Man 2 i.e. Sam Raimi’s second film, the 2012 reboot The Amazing Spider-Man and most importantly, the last reboot Spider-Man: Homecoming. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming opened on July 7, 2017 with $50.8 million, but $15.4 million of that came from Thursday previews. Its $117 million opening weekend was only a few million more than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man made in 2002 without 15 years in ticket price inflation. One has to assume that some people were apprehensive about another Spider-Man reboot so soon after The Amazing Spider-Man, but Homecomingultimately made $334 million in North America, less than all three of Raimi’s movies. Interestingly, Homecoming  was the first Spider-Man movie to get a straight “A” CinemaScore from moviegoers, although last year’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse got an “A+”!

That shouldn’t put too many people off, as they genuinely like Tom Holland in the role of Peter Parker, and this one brings in Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders and Jon Favreau from the Iron Man movies, as well as Peter’s returning classmates. Jacob Batalan has proven popular as Ned Leeds, even starring with Holland in a recent Audi commercial, and singer/actor Zendayais also super-hot these days, not just from this franchise and her music but also hew new HBO show Euphoria. There’s also lots of comic moments involving Tony Revolori, Martin Starr and JB Smoov, very little that’s been given away in the advance previews.

The big get for returning director Jon Watts is having Jake Gyllenhaal  as Quentin Beck aka Mysterio, whose exact involvement and affiliation has wisely been kept a secret. Although Gyllenhaal has been getting great reviews for his work in recent years, it’s not like it’s translated to him as a box office draw. His biggest movie ever is still Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow with $186.7 million and his last big event movie Prince of Persiadidn’t even make $100 million despite its Memorial Day release in 2010. Even his 2017 sci-fi film Lifewith Ryan Reynolds only made $30 million domestically. Even so, if Gyllenhaal isn’t considered an A-list star, at least he’s a solid A-minus.

One thing missing from Far from Home is Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, which will be obvious why if you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame, so we’ll have to see if Homecoming got a bump from including one of the most popular actors within the MCU. In some ways, Far From Homebegins the grooming process of making Tom Holland a viable enough star as Spider-Man that people will go to see future MCU Avengers movies for him (and for Captain Marvel and Black Panther, of course).

By now, there have been lots of the usual gushing social media reactions as well as lots of positive reviews — not quite as many raves as most MCU movies, though – but much of the excitement for the movie will come from its ties to Avengers: Endgame.  It also has some amazing end credits sequences that paves the way for interesting things to come in the MCU.

Spider-Man: Far from Homeopens on Tuesday (today!) and unlike most movies these days, it’s not getting early previews the night before, though it is getting midnight screenings. Even so, it’s first full day won’t have the benefit of those previews. It’s also a long work day for most since most will either get off tomorrow (July 3) or they’ll get a shorter day so they can plan/travel for the long 4thof July weekend. Fortunately, the movie already opened in Asia this past weekend to nearly $112 million, so Far From Home is already on its way to become one of Sony’s big movies of the year.

As you can imagine, determining how much Spider-man: Far from Home will make in its opening week is going to be a challenge and a half. I like looking at the $114 million opening of Raimi’s opening and the $152.4 million made by Spider-Man 2 in its first five days as a good barometer. That sequel made 1.33X the original movie’s opening weekend in five days but Far from Homeis working with six full days.  We also have to bear in mind what’s likely going to be a bump from people who saw Avengers: Endgamewanting to know what happens next, especially with the little tease in the movie and the sneak preview tacked onto the rerelease of Endgame last weekend. Oh, yeah, there’s also a little something called “sequilitis” which has hit so many movies this summer, even Pixar’s latest Toy Story 4 wasn’t able to avoid it.

Because of that I think we can see Spider-Man: Far from Home make closer to $170 million in its first six days with around $30 million its opening Tuesday but also a nice bump on Friday with many people getting that extra day off over the weekend. Because Far from Home is opening so early in the week, I’m not sure we can see it surpass $100 million over the three-day weekend but that’s really nothing to worry about. Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen did $200 million in its first five days with 4thof July falling on Saturday, and that was ten years ago. Surely, with all the factors above and higher ticket prices, Far from Home can come close to that amount in its first week?

I also don’t see next week’s comedy Stuber or Paramount’s horror film Crawl having too much an effect on Far from Home’s second weekend, so it will stay #1 until The Lion King opens in two weeks.

INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR JON WATTS

KYLE PINION’S REVIEW

MIDSOMMAR (A24)

Midsommar
A24 PIctures

Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Liv Mjönes
Directed By: Ari Aster (Hereditary)
MPAA Rating: R

Just as in past weeks, we have one huge blockbuster and one smaller movie offered as counter-programming, and that second movie isn’t that small, as it’s the sophomore effort from filmmaker Ari Aster, whose horror debut Hereditary blew so many people away last year. It premiered at Sundance last year to raves before being released by A24 into nearly 3,000 theaters in June 2018. It opened with $13.6 million, which isn’t bad for an indie horror movie and it grossed $44 million, making it A24’s second-highest grossing movie after the Oscar-nominated Lady Bird.

A24 knows they have a good thing with going and got behind Aster’s follow-up which is a very different movie and not exactly horror by most accounts even though it’s as weird and terrifying as Hereditaryat its weirdest. While Hereditaryonly had a 50% drop in its second weekend, it also got an absolutely horrendous “D+” CinemaScore. I expect that audiences who liked Hereditary and are excited for Midsommarare going to be more confused and disappointed by it. It is a very weird movie compared to mainstream horror films.

Rightfully, a lot of critics are raving about Florence Pugh’s performancein the movie, but I’m not sure that many moviegoers are familiar with the British actress except those who remember her as WWE superstar Paige in this year’s Fighting with My Family.  For that matter, how many moviegoers will be familiar with the work of Jack Reynor or even Will Poulter, even though they starred in two of my all-time favorite Sundance movies, Sing Street and Son of Rambow?

At least A24 has created a pretty amazing marketing campaign around the movie, and of course, critics are raving about it, although many critics were invited to special early screenings with free food and booze… would they be quite as bullish if they just saw it opening week like most major studio releases? (You can read The Beat‘s own Hannah Lodge’s review sometime Wednesday.)

Midsommaris opening on Wednesday with previews on Tuesday night, and I expect many of the devotees who have been excited about it will go out to see it earlier in the week, which might not leave that much for the weekend.  By then, word will have gotten around that the movie is another artsy movie for cinephile movie snob film critics rather than mainstream audiences, so I expect it to fall below $10 million for the weekend. It probably will end up closer to $30 million or less, too.

So yeah, this should be an interesting weekend with both movies opening before the 4thof July, so we’ll have to see how much business is left for the weekend.

This Week’s Box Office Predictions:

  1. Spider-Man: Far from Home (Sony) – $92.7 million N/A (with another $70 to 75 leading up to Friday) (Up .7 million)*
  2. Toy Story 4 (Disney/Pixar) – $30 million -50%
  3. Annabelle Comes Home (New Line/WB) – $9.1 million -55%
  4. Yesterday (Universal) – $8.8 million -48%
  5. Midsommar (A24) – $7.6 million N/A (with another $5 million on Weds. and Thurs.) (Up 1 million)*
  6. Aladdin (Walt Disney Pictures) – $6.5 million -35%
  7. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (Universal) – $4.5 million -38%
  8. Men in Black International (Sony) – $3.4 million -48%
  9. Avengers: Endgame (Marvel/Disney) – $3 million -51%
  10. Rocketman (Paramount) – $2.4 million -38%

*UPDATE: A24 is opening Midsommar in far more theaters than originally projected — 2,707 theaters, in fact — so it should be able to hold up better over the weekend. Spider-Man will be in 4,634 theaters, the second widest release ever.

There generally isn’t a lot of limited releases this weekend – there is a great doc called Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, released by Roadside Attractions, if you’re a Leonard Cohen fan – but let’s face it. If you’re not seeing either of the two movies above, you’re probably watching Stranger Things Season 3, right?

Next week, we’re back to the rest of the summer being holiday-free with two R-rated films, the Fox comedy Stuberpairing Kumhail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista, as well as the Paramount horror film Crawl.

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