June Preview (Part 2): 'Brave,' 'Abraham Lincoln,' 'Ted' & More
by Ray Subers
June 6, 2012
The last two weekends of June 2012 are also the most crowded so far this Summer: there are a total of seven nationwide releases on the schedule, which is as many as there were throughout the entire month of May. Disney/Pixar's Brave is the only certain hit, though Ted should also be a strong contender, while Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter continues to look like it's going to have a tough time attracting attention.
For a look at the first three weeks of June, check out part one of our June Preview here.
June 22 - Merida vs. Abraham Lincoln vs. Steve Carell
The fourth weekend of June is only the second weekend this Summer to feature three new nationwide releases, and included in there is one of the most anticipated of the season. Brave is Pixar's first original movie since 2009's Up, and it's also their attempt at getting back on track both creatively and financially after derailing a bit with last Summer's cash grab sequel Cars 2 ($191.5 million). It seems like they have a great shot with Brave:its story of a strong-willed, bow-and-arrow-wielding young girl Merida fighting to take control of her destiny against her parents' wishes will thematically resonate with women of all ages. It might not be one of Pixar's biggest, but it sure is likely to be their latest $200 million grosser.
While Brave is a sure-fire hit, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the closest thing to a sure-fire miss that this Summer has to offer. It's not for lack of tryingthe movie is based off an extremely popular book, has Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov behind the camera, and stars an eclectic cast of exciting up-and-coming actors. Unfortunately, period genre mash-ups like this almost always struggle at the box office. The best comparison right now is a very unflattering one: Jonah Hex opened at the same time in 2010 and also featured a brooding hero battling supernatural forces in mid-19th century America. That movie was a bit of an aberration with its terrible $10.6 million box office haul, and Abraham Lincoln will certainly do better, though its chances of becoming a hit look slim.
With its R-rating and mix of low-key comedy and apocalyptic drama, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is, from a box office perspective, the least-ambitious of this weekend's new nationwide releases. Still, Steve Carell is one of the more reliable names in comedy in the last few years, and even Dan in Real Life managed to earn $47.6 million. Seeking a Friend could benefit from tapping in to the 2012 end-of-the-world zeitgeist, and if it gets strong reviews it should come close to Dan in Real Life at least.
June 29 - Ted Vs. Tatum Vs. Madea Vs. People
The final weekend of June is the busiest of the Summer so far in terms of number of releases, though there are no longer any big-budget aspiring blockbusters thanks to G.I. Joe: Retaliation's last minute move to March 2013. Immediately after Paramount pushed that movie back, Universal moved raunchy R-rated comedy Ted out of July and in to this spot, which at the moment seems like a strong play.
Ted is Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane's first big screen foray, and its titular foul-mouthed teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane) is attracting a lot of attention. Anecdotally, this seems like one of the few movies this Summer that automatically generates a positive response when asked about. The trailer memorably presents the high-concept story and provides plenty of laughs, and there's clearly pent-up demand for an outrageous, original R-rated comedy. So far this Summer, The Dictator didn't do the trick, and if That's My Boy underperforms and Ted actually turns out to be good, look out.
Coming off two $100 million hits earlier in the year, it would seem like Channing Tatum as a male stripper would be enough to guarantee box office success for Magic Mike. Unfortunately, the movie's box office potential is still very much up in the air. Women turn out to ogle Tatum is more chaste roles (The Vow, Dear John), but will they be quite as eager for something as risque as Magic Mike? Also, Tatum is being placed front-and-center in the campaign, but the plot outline suggests Alex Pettyfer's character "The Kid" is actually at the heart of the story. If that's the case, it will likely lead to poor word-of-mouth (audiences don't like being deceived in marketing), which would mean this plays out pretty quickly.
Madea's Witness Protection is the fourth Tyler Perry movie to feature Madea in the title, and it's the seventh time Perry is donning the fat suit to play the sassy character. Madea's last outing, 2011's Madea's Big Happy Family, earned $53.3 million, and with increased competition from Summer titles it's unlikely Witness Protection winds up higher than that.
People Like Us is the most modest nationwide release this weekend, and it will probably have the most modest returns. The family drama is being sold as "from the studio that brought you The Help," but The Help was a lightning-in-a-bottle success that will be impossible to replicate with People Like Us. It doesn't even help that Chris Pine is the leadhe's built a solid fanbase around action-oriented work in Star Trek and Unstoppable, but this is too much of a departure for him to really capitalize on that goodwill.