Getting psyched for summer movies
Hollywood’s efforts have been on the flat side lately, but the studios are hyped on their summer releases, explained Curtis McCall, chairman/CEO of Marquee Cinemas.
Everyone looks for the unexpected “sleeper,” and McCall indicated that the sequel for “The Hangover” has spawned a wealth of summer comedies, including “Bad Teacher,” “Horrible Bosses,” and “Friends with Benefits.” These raunchy comedies hope to claim the repeat business and word of mouth prize which are necessary to propel a relatively unknown title into “must see” status.
Attending a seminar recently, McCall said that Marquee team attending the CinemaCon in Vegas only had “awesome” things to say about the made-in-WV film, “Super 8.” In fact, McCall predicted it could be the sleeper hit everyone is looking for, predicting an over $200 million take for the Spielberg/Abrams science-fiction creature feature. The state’s entry will not be the summer flick that tops the charts, however. McCall expects, as do most other, that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 3D” will come in at number one, but “Transformers Dark of the Moon” could out abracadabra the teen wizards last on-screen adventure.
Movie trade magazine, Boxoffice, projects a more conservative $135 million for “Super 8,” which is $15 million more that “Green Lantern.” The publication has projected $360 million for “Transformers Dark of the Moon;” $330 for “Harry Potter;” $320 million for “Kung Fu Panda 2”; $305 million for “Cars 2;” $280 million for “Pirates 4;” and $245 million for “The Hangover Part 2.”).
As in past summers, studios have their mega-blockbusters (“tentpoles”) spaced about two weeks apart. That may be fine for positioning but the exhibitor agrees that the scheduling prevents films from building an audience beyond their first two weeks. And, where repeat business in the summer had been a trait for the blockbuster, few pictures, including now draw second helpings due to the scheduling. Boxoffice predicts that repeat business will be a factor with the “Harry Potter” release, since it is the last flick for the teen wizard.
Still, the marketing arms of Hollywood have strengthened their cross demographic and counter programming skills. For non-statistic oriented readers, the translation means sending out two superhero or action styled flicks heavily skewed for male demographics the same week will be avoided. Instead, the counter-programming likely pits a comedy or a “chick” flick or adult-oriented feature against the special effects frenzy that will leap into number one with little effort.
X Men First Class: A rift between Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) when mutants band to stop a world threat, leads to the founding of the X-Men and eternal war with Magneto’s Brotherhood.
Lion of Judah: Farm animals flee the barn to save Judah the Lamb from becoming a Passover sacrifice. Features voices of Ernest Borgnine and Michael Madsen.
Super 8: J.J. Abrams has kept this made in Weirton, WV, film tight to the vest, except for intentionally mailing clips to science fiction / movie web sites and inviting select writers to watch a long clip on a NYC theatre screen. Conceived as a “tribute” to 80s films of Steven Spielberg, the flick starts with a group of kids shooting an amateur super 8 film at the depot when a train derails allowing a creature to escape and run amuck. I want to go out on a limb and suggest this is an “unfriendly E.T.,” but that’s just a whim from stills showing the military storming through the town attempting to stop the “thing.”
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer: Poor Judy, she’s anticipating a super fun summer with her best friends Rocky and Amy. Unfortunately, Rocky heads to circus camp to tame lions and Amy goes to Borneo with her mother. Left behind, Judy has to contend with her little brother, Stink, and her second-best friend, Frank. As if things could not get worse, Judy’s parents announce they must go to California and Aunt Opel will be taking care of the third-grader. Light and family friendly.
Green Lantern (3D): Ryan Reynolds plays the D.C. Comic hero whose mystical green ring earns him membership in a squadron of universe peacekeepers. Test pilot Hal Jordan (his alter ego) now soars on a mission to prevent Parallax from upsetting the balance of power in the universe.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins: Jim Carrey stars as a house painter who receives a penguin in the mail. Directed by Mark (“Ghost of Girlfriends Past,” “Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Freaky Friday”) Waters from Richard Atwater’s children’s book, Carrey’s mischievous pal loves the freezer. Soon, Carrey has a female bird on his hands, which leads to a family. What’s a man supposed to do with a half dozen penguins? Start a circus act, of course.
Bad Teacher: Cameron Diaz brings the summer’s third raunchy comedy (after “Bridesmaids” and “Hangover Part II”) to theatres as a foul-mouthed, drinking, drug taking, lazy and inappropriate dressing instructor searching for a marital meal ticket. A sub (Justin Timberlake) fits both the handsome and rich qualifications, but a sarcastic, irreverent P.E. teacher (Jason Segel) wants to woo her as she tries to prevent overly energetic colleague (Lucy Punch) from stealing her man with a pot of gold.
Cars 2: Racecar Lightning McQueen (voice by Owen Wilson) and tow truck Mater (voice by Larry the Cable Guy) head overseas for a World Grand Prix only to hit potholes and detours stemming from a trail of international intrigue.
Larry Crowne: Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts star in a comedy about thirtysomethings looking for places to fit in. Hanks (who directed the flick) plays the title character who’s just been fired from a big box retailer. Facing a mortgage and too much free time, he registers at a community college filled by outcasts seeking a new start, including public speaking teacher Mercedes Tainot (Roberts), who has given up on teaching, herself, and her husband.
Monte Carlo: Three women (Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy) take a vacation in Paris only to find themselves headed for Monte Carlo when one of them is mistaken for a British heiress. Could Gomez be the big screen’s next Miley Cyrus? Advance vibe says this is more of a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” than a “Last Song.”
Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Shia LaBeouf and Optimus Prime return and Michael Bay directs the third entry in the mayhem filled world of the Autobots and Decepticons. No Megan Fox, but this is still one of two sure things this summer. The plot? A race for space between the USA and USSR puts an LaBeouf/Prime fighting Shockwave.
Horrible Bosses: Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day have bosses from Hades. They decide the only way to happiness is to waste their superior. Their murderous plan soon snowballs into chaos. Directed by Seth (“Four Christmases”) Gordon, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Aniston (as a foul mouthed dentist) have supporting roles. IMDB suggests a dude’s version of “Nine to Five.” Boxoffice Magazine believes this could be “one of the summer’s biggest sleepers” due to the excellent cast and high concept premise.
Zookeeper: Griffin (Kevin James) is more comfortable with the king of beasts than a member of the opposite sex. And the feeling is mutual. Women leave him due to his unglamorous job which bodes no future nest egg. When he decides to quit, his animals start talking to teach him about courtship. James has a solid track record for family comedy, having toplined “Paul Blart” and “Grown Ups.”
Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows (Part 2 in 3D): A decade after it began, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) go back to Hogwarts for the fight to the death duel between Harry and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). David Yates has a challenge faced by few directors — bringing a mega-tentpole franchise to a noteworthy close. Or, will J.K. Rowling give in and pen another Potter novel?
Captain America: The First Avenger: One of the first characters upon which Marvel built its universe, Chris Evans stars as a meek World War II soldier who gains powers beyond most mortals after consuming an experimental serum. Hugo Weaving plays the Captain’s nemesis, the dreaded Red Skull.
Friends with Benefits: Headhunter (Mila Kunis) persuades recruit (Justin Timberlake) to forsake his job in San Francisco and move to the Big Apple. Both have been avoiding relationships and they both realize their chemistry is bubbling. Instead of hooking up, they decide to be best friends with nighttime benefits. Will no strings attached solve their sexual and personal issues?
JULY 29: Cowboys & Aliens; Crazy Stupid Love; Smurfs (3D);
AUGUST 5: The Change Up; Rise of the Planet of the Apes;
AUGUST 12: Thirty Minutes or Less; Final Destination V; Glee Live 3D; The Help;
AUGUST 19: Conan the Barbarian; Fright Night (3D); Due Day; Spy Kids IV: All the Time in the World (3D);
AUGUST 26: Apollo 18; Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark;
SEPTEMBER 2: The Debt (Wed. Aug 31); Colombiana; Shark Night 3D.
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