Well, when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. In my weekend preview last week, I predicted “White House Down” to come in at No. 1 at the box office: “‘White House Down’ should have no trouble coming in at number one, although I would expect it to open below last week’s number two film, ‘World War Z.’ ‘The Heat’ should follow in the second spot, with ‘Monsters University’ up next.”
I was … a bit off. “Monsters” had no problem coming in first with $46 million, an indicator that parents have been waiting for some kid-friendly summer fare. And No. 2? “The Heat,” which I always felt would do well. Melissa McCarthy is on a helluva role at the box office, Sandra Bullock is as well-liked as any actress in Hollywood, and what other female-centric films are in wide release at the moment?
The big surprises were what came next: “World War Z” in third, and THEN “White House Down,” with only $25 million. When your big summer release hits fourth, you’ve got a problem, and clearly Roland Emmerich’s film does. I think this is a case of a release date that just did not work. It is a crowded marketplace, Channing Tatum fans likely opted for “The Heat,” “World War Z” has proved surprisingly muscular, and, of course, there is “Olympus Has Fallen,” the similarly-themed spring hit that will likely end up having taken in more than “White House.”
Prepare for more animated success, because this holiday weekend is certain to be topped by Gru and his minions: “Despicable Me 2” opened on Wednesday, and it’s already huge. I reviewed the sequel for the Buffalo News, and found it winner: “[It] qualifies as a true crossover success, a film that should prove as pleasing to both 4- and 40-year-olds.” I had a much better time than I did at “Iron Man 3” or “Man of Steel” — although I liked both — and I think there is a serious chance that Gru’s gang ends up finishing its run with more dollars than “Monsters U.”
While “Despicable” has arrived with strong buzz, Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” seems to be moving in the opposite direction. From the get-go, the Armie Hammer-Johnny Depp-starrer seemed an unsafe bet, and the result, according to early reviews, is bloated, overlong, ugly, and disappointing on just about every level. Depp has a following, to be sure, and a PG-13 rating will help, but I think this could end up as Depp’s second critical and commercial summertime disappointment in a row, after “Dark Shadows.”
We shall see — the film could rally. But I’ve found it unappealing from the very first trailer, and I’ve seen nothing to change my opinion.
The week’s only other major release is the stand-up film “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain,” which finds the comic playing Madison Square Garden. The trailer is a hoot, and Hart’s fans might make this a solid little earner.
On the other end of the spectrum is a trio of new smaller releases: “Lootera,” a 50s-set Bollywood romance playing the Elmwood Regal; “Midnight’s Children, Deepa Mehta’s somewhat poorly-received adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s beloved novel (at the Amherst Dipson); and “The Attack,” a drama about an Arab surgeon who discovers a dark secret about his wife after a suicide bombing.
Note that “Stories We Tell” is still playing at Amherst, and “Copperhead” and “Love is All You Need” are still playing at Eastern Hills.
The Screening Room will please many by showing “Grease” at 7:30 p.m. on July 5–7, and July 9, while next Thursday, July 11, features two very different sci-fi films: “Equilibrium” and “Forbidden Plant.” Author Mark Malkasian hosts this special event, also featuring sci-fi trivia.
Bacchus returns with “Anchorman” on Thursday (July 10), while the UB North Campus shows the late Tony Scott’s “Top Gun” on Friday (July 5) and “42” on Tuesday (July 9), both at 9:15, and the UB South Campus offers “42” at 9:15 on Wednesday (July 10).
One last note: Some of this summer’s crop is already hitting the cheapies: “The Bling Ring, “After Earth,” “Epic,” “Fast & Furious 6,” and “The Hangover Part III” are now playing McKinley. That doesn’t mean summer’s almost over … right?
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment Copyright: © 2013 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.