It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like 2005
This summer kicks off with Iron Man 2, the sequel to a very popular and huge hit from 2008. My review of it will be tomorrow on the nymoviereviews site, but here's a hint: this isn't a great kickoff to the summer.
In fact, this summer has a lot in common with the summer of 2005. Remember that summer, where you couldn't turn around without some publication/periodical focusing on a phantom slump that was based on the previous year's numbers and wasn't paying attention to the trashy product that was hitting the screens?
This summer is sequel-heavy. There are a couple of hopeful originals, or "originals," looking for bank, but this summer is entirely contingent on the goodwill generated by previous entries. The summer of 2005 was hoping you really, really loved The Honeymooners and Bewitched. We only have a couple of remakes, or different versions of movies that have already been made, this summer
After Iron Man 2 goes for The Dark Knight record this weekend, we have yet another version of Robin Hood. The marketers can throw out Gladiator, and Russell Crowe, and Ridley Scott all they want to, this movie is going to bomb. How many of you get excited seeing Crowe in this role and seeing yet another swords and sandals epic? I haven't seen a movie like this take off since Lord of the Rings, and that's 7 years now, and not really the reason people showed up anyway. Even Braveheart had a hard time making money back in 1995.
Then we have yet another sequel, one that actually comes after a chapter that generated a lot of bad-will...Shrek Forever After...in 3D! I have no doubt the movie will make some money, but if this has a whiff of Shrek the Third badness, this one won't make $150 million.
Competing against Shrek is the one movie that might get a cult following, but probably won't be a huge hit and that's the SNL skit-to-movie MacGruber.
Then, you always have to give Jerry Bruckheimer his props...even though Prince of Persia is based on a video game, it looks like the kind of Bruckheimer-produced garbage that people flock to, and it should be a pretty big hit with Memorial Day behind it.
But also having Memorial Day behind it is Sex and the City 2. Another sequel, another movie that looks absolutely atrocious, and yet will "strike a blow" for women when it becomes a huge mega-hit. I'm sorry, this is the kind of cinema that women really want? Really?
June starts the possible slump talk. On the 4th, we have the Apatow-produced kind-of-a-spinoff Get Him to the Greek, which contains the Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. After looking at the previews, and yes even the Red Band version, I'm not seeing this take off as some huge hit, and it competes against other movies that are going to have a hard time with audiences, like the buddy-action-romantic-comedy Killers with Katherine Hiegl and Ashton Kutcher. The comic-strip adaptation Marmaduke...ugh...and the one interesting movie out of this group is Splice, the Species-ish sci-fi thriller, which probably has no chance at all.
June 11 comes our creative-dearth weekend: The A-Team, which should do G.I. Joe kind of business (I'm thinking a little less), and the remake of The Karate Kid, starring Will Smith's kid Jaden and Jackie Chan. I'm not seeing either of these making a huge impression.
Then there's Jonah Hex, a Western comic book movie that looks OK but I can't see being huge, and Pixar's first real test of their brand's staying power with Toy Story 3. I have every bit of faith that Pixar will deliver yet another winner, and I loved the first two Toy Storys, but it's been 11 years since Toy Story 2 was released. That kind of gap doesn't usually bode well for franchises, but if any studio could do it, it's Pixar.
The 25th brings aging stars with broad-appeal films that I can't see doing crazy, lasting business. Tom Cruise returns with the action-comedy Knight and Day, co-starring Cameron Diaz. A lot of their thunder will have been stolen by Killers three weeks before it comes out. The same kind of premise; the girl is a hopelessly naive unwitting action star, the guy is a secret government agent with all sorts of skilz. Advance word is good, but you're looking at a pretty hard fade after it's released most likely.
And that's definitely true for The Grown-Ups, the new Adam Sandler comedy with his buddies David Spade, Kevin James, Chris Rock, and Rob Schneider. It looks like a camp movie with lots of pain and pee jokes. It might be one of his lowest-grossing comedies ever when all is said and done.
Then we have the July 4 weekend.
We have Twilight: Eclipse, a guaranteed money-maker. Running up against it: M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, based on the Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon series. My question is, why? Why even attempt to compete against the unholy behemoth that is Twilight?
July 9 brings the I-still-don't-know-what-it's-about-even-though-I've-seen-4-trailers Despicable Me, with voice work from Steve Carell and a million others. It competes against Predators, which I don't think has a chance in hell of being a hit. No Predator movie has ever done well, even when they battled the Aliens.
I've seen Inception being described as the most anticipated movie of the summer. Directed by Christopher Nolan, I am amped for it. But does the movie scream out, "Super hit" when I see the trailers? It really doesn't. Those kind of movies where they're trying to keep everything secret, and it's got a sketchy premise that's hard to describe, don't generally do well, or as well as hoped.
Inception competes against The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and I haven't seen enough of that to think it might do well...it looks like another one of those Percy Jackson type of movies that will have some decent pull but not much.
The following weekend, Dinner for Schmucks arrives, with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. It looks pretty funny...not sure of its potential box office though. The big movie being released this weekend is Salt, with Angelina Jolie doing her badass babe routine. I don't see this doing even what Wanted did a couple of years ago (Wanted barely hit $100 million after a good opening weekend)...it doesn't have the concept.
The 30th is going to be a big bomb: We have the sequel to Cats and Dogs...who asked for it? The original came out 9 years ago. Then there's the trying-to-be-Twilight movie Beastly, coming from CBS Pictures, which has had a horrible track record so far: Back-Up Plan, Extraordinary Measures.
August brings us Step-Up 3D...yawn. Then the next weekend is the every-action-star-ever-is-in-it The Expendables, which will have some retro interest. Too bad Stallone couldn't get Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger for bigger roles in it. There's the very interesting Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which I think has no chance at all despite it's original concept. Edgar Wright's movies have never been huge draws for the casual movie fan.
Hey, on the 2oth...Nanny McPhee Returns...
Closing out August is a 3D treatment of the old Roger Corman cult hit Piranha. Because people for 30 years have been clamoring for it.
September is its usual wasteland: We have a new Resident Evil in 3D and finally, Oliver Stone's sequel to Wall Street arrives.
I really think this summer is going to have a lot of movies that have an initial explosive weekend, and then die shortly after. There's also going to be one or two that people should want to go to, but don't because it just doesn't look good. This isn't exactly a record-breaking summer we're seeing here. Only a couple of originals have a chance, and even they might end up disappointing. There's entirely too much product relying on old stock to make its money...seriously, Toy Story 3 I am very curious about. It has all the advantages in the world to a be a big hit, but the franchise has been gone so long. The new 3D versions of Toy Story 1 & 2 didn't exactly attract a huge audience.
I won't be surprised if we hear of another "slump" this summer. It should still be better than 2005, and lack of originality isn't exactly a new thing. It's just when studios rely on things that are so old is when the lack of originality becomes more noticeable.