Every year, it seems as though the last month of the summer is always home to some very slow weekends and not many big surprises, and 2015 is set to be no different. There are some possible breakout hits (namely, Straight Outta Compton) the obscure horror films (The Gift) and something intended for middle aged women (Ricki and the Flash). The only interesting thing that might happen is a certain superhero flick bombing hard (not to give it away, but here’s a hint: it’s called Fantastic Four). So lets take a look at all the major releases of the month and try to determine how well they will perform at the domestic box office.
1. Fantastic Four – August 7
The not-so-hotly anticipated reboot in the long running comic book series hits theaters the first weekend of the month, but it seems as though its going to fail hard. Why? Well, I see all the symptoms of a flop in the makings. For one, compare the first teaser to the new TV ads. The first trailer gave it an almost Interstellar-esque hard, serious science fiction look whereas the new ads showcase the ‘clever’ one liners and action stunts set to Kanye West’s “Power”, showing a clear grab at the younger audience. Muddled marketing shows a lack of faith from the studio. Speaking of which, the 3D conversion was cancelled, meaning the studio didn’t want to pour any more money into it. It’s also not being released in IMAX, which is also becoming increasingly rare for the blockbuster genre. However the final nail in the coffin is the fact that the review embargo blocks all online reviews until 4PM PST the day before release, and all print reviews day of. That’s a surefire sign that the film is likely just plain bad, and that announcement basically destroyed any of the miniscule amounts of hype it may have had.
2. The Gift – August 7
The first ever release from the new STX Entertainment label hits theaters the same day, in the form of the low budget stalker thriller The Gift. The only recognizable star is Jason Bateman, who apparently did something cruel to an old classmate and now his dark secrets will haunt his future or some other guff along those lines. It has been getting strong early reviews, but it doesn’t seem to have any kind of hype or mass appeal, meaning a debut under $10M is very likely.
3. Shaun the Sheep Movie – August 7
Shaun the Sheep is not exactly a widely known property, so it is a bit surprising that this new film is getting a release in 2,200 theaters rather than on TV or On Demand. Early reviews have been strong, but Aardman films have had a hard time finding an audience after Wallace and Grommet (notably, the awful performance of The Pirates! Band of Misfits which I enjoyed, goshdarnit) so a debut in the mid single digits is a likely outcome. That’s not really an issue, however, given how successful the film was overseas, taking in nearly $60M. For a film like this, its hard to imagine that wasn’t enough to turn a profit.
4. Ricki and the Flash – August 7
Here’s that film for the older female crowd, but this time is not nearly as easy of a sell as something along the lines of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or August Osage County, both of which did solid business with that audience. Instead, Ricki just looks fairly bizzare and unclear of its audience. Not only that, but it is only being released in 1,800 theaters, meaning a debut under $10M is all but guaranteed.
5. The Man from U.N.C.L.E – August 14
Looking at the success of Mission Impossible and Skyfall, its easy to see why a studio would easily pour $75M into another spy related thriller, but this one doesn’t seem quite as marketable. It’s based on a 1970’s TV show of the same name, and revolves around Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill working together as spies in the height of the cold war. Without a ton of competition, there’s actually a chance this could break out among the older crowd. For one, the trailer makes it look genuinely fun. It’s done an excellent job selling it as a lighthearted, fast paced action comedy with a cool, retro flair that could easily translate into a strong result. Still, as it is right now, it seems a bit too close to Mission Impossible, but if it is actually good will likely hold very well throughout the next few (very quiet) weekends for a solid domestic total.
5. Straight Outta Compton – August 14
This one is somewhat of a wildcard. It seems to guaranteed a solid debut, but many are saying it will be a big surprise hit, meaning they will be disappointed when it likely takes in a decent debut (a.k.a Unfriended syndrome). The music drama genre is all over the place, but N.W.A has a strong enough following, and a trailer that makes the film look genuinely good that a debut of over $30M seems all but guaranteed at this point.
6. Underdogs – August 14
I could barely find any info on this one (even though it comes out in two weeks), but foreign animated films tend to do very poor business, especially with competition from Inside Out, Minions and Shaun the Sheep Movie, so don’t expect this to make much more than a blip on the radar.
7. American Ultra – August 21
Stoner comedies are somewhat of a hard sell, but what about a stoner parody of The Bourne franchise? (despite the painfully obvious mistake of not calling it ‘The Bourne Highdentity’) Well, that seems like an even harder sell. A good comparison would be Eisenberg’s 30 Minutes or Less, which was a comedy based on an actual terrorist event where an innocent human being literally died. I’m not joking, google it. With a small amount of online hype, this one may do good business among the fanboy crowd but marketing is low and so is general appeal, so I’m predicting a debut under $10M.
8. Hitman: Agent 47 – August 21
Video game adaptations are still a thing, sadly, so this new one is being unceremoniously dumped into theaters on one of the quietest weekends of the year. The budget is unknown yet but doesn’t look like it could be much more than $35M or so. The problem is even the fans of the video game franchise aren’t hot on this new film, as it seems to trade in the stealth that the game is known for in favor of a generic all out action film, with helicopters crashing into buildings, cars exploding and big gunfights. The advertising is surprisingly strong, but late August is the definition of dog days, and audiences are likely to just skip this one out. It seems more like something that would be included as a bonus with the new game rather than bizzarely getting a full theatrical release.
9. No Escape – August 26
Here’s one that’s just genuinely bizzare – a thriller escape film starring Owen Wilson that’s being released into theaters on one of the slowest weekends of the year. It will try to get a jump by releasing on Wednesday for some reason, but still seems like its going to open outside of the Top 5 completely. I really have nothing to say about this one.
10. Sinister 2 – August 28
Horror sequels are a fickle thing, and Sinister 2 does not seem to be making the right choices. For one, it has changed from mid-October to late August, even though there isn’t much horror competition in October. The only other wide release in the genre is Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, but the original Sinister took Paranormal Activity 4 head on and managed to do debatably more impressive business, dropping only around 50% in its second weekend (when PA4 came out) showing that there’s clearly an audience. A film like Sinister just seems much more suited to Halloween than late August, so the sequel will likely wind up missing a significant chunk of its predecessor.
11. Regression – August 28
Even with a few recognizable names, Regression is going to have a very hard time selling itself with a premise as dark as someone admitting to sexually abusing their daughter. That kind of premise is enough to turn away about 95% of audiences, and seems like something typically reserved for independent or foreign films that get released On Demand, rather than something getting a wide release. If reviews are excellent, there may be a small audience for this, but it’s also likely the studio may simply pull this one off the chart right before release in favor of On Demand or a TBA. It happened with The Green Inferno, it happened with Satanic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened here too.
12. We Are Your Friends – August 28
Warner Bros. DJ drama releases in the last few days of the summer, but it isn’t really clear who the audience is. DJ’s are not exactly a major market, and it doesn’t even really seem to fully understand the concepts that the story is about. Also surprising is the R rating, which will hold back the young audience this is clearly aiming for. Still, with a budget of just $10M its hard to imagine this not turning a minor profit in the long run.