The month of August is not known for producing monster hits. With summer winding down, this is the time when studios start dumping some of their films that they don’t have much faith in into theatres. At least a couple of studios are trying to reverse the trend.
District 9 is the major release of the weekend and it comes with Peter Jackson as its producer. Interesting note about this film – Peter Jackson and the director were scheduled to make the movie of the video game Halo, until budget problems hit, and forced the cancellation of that movie. They made this one instead. District 9 is about aliens taking refuge in South Africa, and the tensions that arise. The trailer definitely raised my interest level on the film, and it did very well at Comic-Con, so the question is how well will the film do? It is not directed by Peter Jackson, so expectations have to be lowered a little bit. The film is receiving rave reviews, as Rotten Tomatoes has it listed at 95% as of the time of this writing. The August release date will hurt, and the fact that there are no major stars. Opening in 3,049 theatres, I’m predicting District 9 will gross $18 million.
The Time Traveler’s Wife comes to the screen starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. The film has a built in fanbase of females because of the novel it is based on. It has Rachel McAdams in a romantic film, which is what she is best known for, and ladies like Eric Bana. It is counter-programming to the testosterone flicks that are currently in theatres, but it also has to contend with Julie & Julia. Reviews have been negative, but it is getting a wide release of 2,988 theatres. My estimate is on the low end, but I think it will only gross $15 million in its opening weekend. We’ll see if I’m wrong.
Bandslam is a film that you would think is part of the Disney family, but its not. It stars Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical 1, 2, and 3 and Aly Michalka of the pop group Aly and AJ, which helps appeal to the young target demo. The plot is a coming-of-age drama about teenagers in a band aspiring to win a battle of the bands contest. Early reviews have been surprisingly good as Rotten Tomatoes currently lists the film at 77%. Unfortunately, this one really needed the Disney brand name behind it for a chance of success. I don’t think teens are interested in Bandslam, and they still have G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in theatres to see. Opening in 2,121 theatres, I predict Bandslam will gross $8 million.
The Goods: Live Hard. Sell Hard. stars Jeremy Piven and is about a man who tries to help save a car dealership. Piven has been promoting the film everywhere to try and get people to see it, but reviews have not been kind. People that have seen the preview screenings have concurred that it’s probably better to wait for DVD than to see it in theatres. The star power is minimal, as Piven is more of an ensemble actor, not a headliner. Paramount Vantage is not giving the film a wide release either, as it will only debut in 1,838 theatres. I predict that the film will open with $6 million, and be on DVD shelves shortly.
Ponyo, which is Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film, is also being launched this weekend and will be shown in 927 theatres. It has the cache of John Lasseter promoting it, and Disney is giving it a big release compared to other Miyazaki films they’ve put out. Having said that, it should not make a huge dent at the box office, but will have a decent per theatre average.
Of the films in the Top 5 last week, I expect only 2 to remain in the top ten. We will see if G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra really is a hit by how well it holds this weekend. I’m predicting a drop of 55% for a gross of $24.6 million, which will still make it the top movie in North America. Julie & Julia will be the other holdover, and I predict a 45% drop for a gross of $11 million.
So to recap, here are my predictions:
1) G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra – $24.6 million
2) District 9 – $18 million
3) The Time Traveler’s Wife – $15 million
4) Julie & Julia – $11 million
5) Band Slam – $8 million
Check back on Sunday to see how I did!