The 2012 Film Release Calendar (July & August)

Today, we’re looking at the peak of the summer, and the steep drop as everything comes crashing to an end. July is, without a doubt, the month where all the heavy hitters come to bat. It’s the 4-5-6 of the lineup. These are your homerun hitters. And then August is basically the rest of the lineup. The first week is okay, since you get a July run-over. But as you get closer to Labor Day, the films get worse and worse, and they’re basically dumped there because they’re technically summer films, but basically you know Hollywood has no hope in them whatsoever to succeed, and then by the time you get to September, absolutely nothing is out.

The other great thing about the summer is that you can pretty much guess the films exactly. They’re all engineered to be of a certain quality, and very rarely go higher than that. And you know which films are gonna win the weekend. It’s great. I barely have to do any work.

Only thing, though — how bad does this summer look? It started yesterday with May and June. But here — take out Dark Knight and what then? Spider-Man, sure. If they do it correctly, it’ll be entertaining, but we saw this exact same story (for the most part) ten years ago. There are only two other films in these months that seem remotely interesting, and neither of those are really big budget films. The point of the summer in modern Hollywood has been the blockbuster. Is anyone interested in any of these? We really seem to be digging for rock bottom, creatively, aren’t we?

On that note, enjoy the rest of the summer, everybody!

JULY

The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s Spider-Man. Of course we’re gonna see it. Whether we think it’ll be good or not. We’re all morbidly fascinated with this whole business.

Seriously — watching what happened to that franchise (which, personally, I didn’t particularly enjoy since the first one, and even the first one was just because of the novelty of it all), and how quickly they just said, “Fuck it, we’ll do it again” — I really want to see what they can possibly do with it.

My guess is, this won’t be particularly great. I’m gonna try real hard here to not let happen what generally happens to me with these movies, which is, I see them, I enjoy them, and go, “Meh, I can give it 4 stars.” And then, months later, I go, “But there was nothing of value there!” I think I’ll be able to be more critical here, since — they’re traversing ground that’s already been covered.

The cast is solid, though, and I hear they’re gonna go old-school Spider-Man and make him a sarcastic dick, so that’s interesting.

My gut says go 3 stars, but you know what? I’ll go 3.5 stars. I don’t know why, but I am. We’ll see what happens.

What I’m really curious about is how much this makes. How much marketing will it take to make people forget? Also, will this do the business the others did? Not to mention the obvious — this same exact story was done 10 years ago. How can you make this story interesting again? By changing the female lead? What is this, Smallville? Uncle Ben’s still gonna get knifed. And here you don’t even have the Macho Man to wrestle him. How can you change the origin story without changing it? I’m fascinated by how they’re gonna pull this off.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Hooray, another Ice Age. Just what the public wants.

I don’t think I saw past the first one here. Maybe I gave the second one about twenty minutes, but — these things run their course quickly.

They’re all money grabs. That’s all these animated franchises are that aren’t Disney and Pixar. At least Disney and Pixar try to infuse a little quality in their stuff. DreamWorks? They find something that works and plug in enough sequels until the franchise stops producing. Considering the last one made almost $900 million worldwide — this was gonna happen. Until people stop going, they’ll keep making them.

I won’t see this, but even so, 2.5 stars. They’re harmless, but I don’t like them, so I almost always give them 2.5 stars. But I won’t see it, because that means I’d need to see 2 and 3, and I won’t do that.

Ted

I’ve been interested in this since it was announced.

A movie directed by Seth MacFarlane, about a kid who makes a wish that his teddy bear comes to life — and then it does — and then we cut to thirty years later, where the bear is still alive and is hanging around on the dude’s couch and has become a lazy stoner. I’m in.

The cast is pretty strong too. Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis — MacFarlane is voicing the bear. I’m totally excited to see this.

I think I’ll enjoy it, but I’m not gonna go so far as to expect this to be 4 stars. I’ll guess 3.5 stars, and let the movie (hopefully) be better. I’m wary with comedies, and I’ve learned my lesson, guessing one will be good and having it suck badly. So I’ll say 3.5 and hope for the best. (Though this seems like an easy 4.)

The Dark Knight Rises

Do I need to say anything here?

5 stars.

Neighborhood Watch

From the start, I see — Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn starring. That’s one not funny and one funny, but prone to bad movies. Then I see Jonah Hill, who is funny, but needs the right environment. Not sure if PG-13 is it.

Right there, I have doubts. Now, add to that this synopsis:

Suburban dads form a neighborhood watch group to get time away from their families, only to discover a plot to destroy Earth.

…and the fact that it’s sci-fi, so aliens are involved — and I’m not expecting anything good here at all. In fact, this could even be Unforgivable. I’ll keep my eye on it.

I’ll give Vaughn and Hill the benefit of the doubt and say 2.5 stars. The fact that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are credited as writers means nothing to me, since they were also credited in Green Hornet, and I know for a fact that the studio had a huge amount of influence on it. So here — where Rogen and Goldberg clearly only turned in a first draft and dozens of other writers were on it after them — their names mean nothing to me. Ben Stiller requires creative changes and Vaughn just ad libs whatever the fuck he wants anyway. So I still say this won’t be particularly good. I can’t. Comedy is just abysmal today.

Tyler Perry’s The Marriage Counselor

There’s no poster or set photos for this yet, so I figured I’d do the only decent thing one could do in a situation like this:

Enjoy it, folks. That’s about the best thing you’ll get out of this movie. That photo.

This is surprising as hell. A Tyler Perry movie in July. This has never happened. Are we seeing the paradigm shift? Or is it just because Kim Kardashian is in this? I don’t really care, honestly. I only wanna know why they’re fucking up my rubric. (Seriously, why you fucking up my rubric?)

Oh yeah, I won’t see it, 2 stars. But for everyone else — this is the one that stars Kim Kardashian. Do with that whatever you like.

Step Up 4ever

Hoo. Fucking. Rah.

Just what the world needed, a fourth Step Up.

“First, they stepped up. Then, they stepped up… 2 the streets! Then, they stepped up in 3D! Now, they step up… for America!”

I won’t see this. This will suck. 2 stars.

– – – – – – – – – –

In “How to Read a Hollywood Release,” I said July is the “heart of the summer.” (Where’s the love?)

“The 4th of July weekend, the 11th weekend and the 18th weekend are the big three weekends for summer films. This is where they release big guns, the ones expected to make a shit ton of money.”

The three films this year? Spider-Man, Ice Age and Dark Knight. Ice Age seems like a weak choice, but if you notice (and I pointed it out in the article, because I’m fucking awesome), this franchise earned this spot due to its returns. It was originally a May franchise, but then the third one was pushed to July after it made a shit ton of money. If (and only if) it underperforms, that’s when they bump the next one back to May. It takes two underperformers to kill a franchise. And that’s foreign and domestic. (Is it weird that I gauge my Enemies list based on box office returns?)

July actually seems really weak this year, which is a bit expected, since I said (in the “What Have We Learned” article, which may or may not have gone up by the time this goes up) that now the big cash cows are gone — Potter, Transformers, even Twilight — now, superhero movies are all they have. So it makes sense that this summer is weak as shit, since they’re trying to plug holes and figure out what they can stick in those weekends. 2012 and 2013 might be the most important years for the future of the film business (I’d have you believe).

Now Batman is over. Oh man, they’re gonna be scrambling for shit to release next summer. They’ll put Hunger Games in there (wait, no they won’t. That’s moving to November after this), and they’ll try to make 2 more Pirates films, and I bet they’re itching to get Star Trek in there, but once they see they don’t have enough franchises to tread water, and big projects like Battleship fall down hard — interesting shit’s gonna take place.

The other thing I see in July, normally, are kid-friendly franchises. I don’t really see that this year. (I mean, Spider-Man and Batman count, but outside of that. Usually there are several.) Ice Age counts, but that’s only 3. I am really interested to see how this turns out.

Now, box office…

Well this is fucking easy.

Spider-Man wins week 1.

Ice Age week 2. Though it’s possible Spider-Man wins again. Ice Age makes a certain amount of money. Like $40-50 million. Spider-Man will probably open to around $100 million (or over. Let’s just assume over), and even with a steep drop, that should usually be enough to win week 2, even though Ice Age will still perform really well. And this is how they say the box office is doing well, because two films made money on a weekend.

Dark Knight win week 3.

And probably week 4 as well.

See — summertime, and the guessing’s easy.

Any potential good films in July?: Dark Knight, obviously. Amazing Spider-Man. Maybe, maybe not. I’m sure it’ll be good in the sense that — we’ll all enjoy it. Ted.

Unforgivables?: Neighborhood Watch. And Step Up will suck, but won’t be Unforgivable (I give (98% of) sequels a pass).

– – – – – – – – – –

August

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

It was a matter of time before they did this.

I’m curious to see if the August date is because of the title or the fact that this franchise has done some business. I’m guessing both. This is perfect for this release date. It’ll make money no matter what it’s up against, and is a perfect counterpart for Bourne this weekend.

But — I still haven’t seen the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid, though I hear tell that it’s a pretty solid franchise that doesn’t play down to children. So if that’s the case — good for them.

I won’t see this (just because I need to see them all before I see this), but still — 3 stars. Good for them. Making summer money. I bet they don’t spend more than $50 million on this, including production and advertising. This is how films should be made (for the most part).

The Bourne Legacy

Yeah — mixed feelings about this.

Everything I hear says that they’re just using the Bourne name, and this is really a spin-off in the sense that — Damon and Greengrass can return to this any time they want to. It’ll be like — Jeremy Renner doing his version of this that exists within that world.

My sincere hope (and this would be awesome), is if Renner has amnesia (or even not. However they want to play it), and does his thing, and then, after two or three movies, we find out he’s a villain, and eventually him and Damon have to duke it out. How fucking awesome would that shit be? Have Renner be the hero, then have him be opposed to Damon. It’s genius. (And of course, they could fight it out for a movie or two and then join sides, but still — how great would it be to be that far-sighted? It’s so good you just know they’d never do it.)

But, my (brilliant) ideas aside — I think this can be good.

I won’t assume 4, since a franchise taking on a new lead and director (a la Spider-Man) need to win me over, but I’ll safely say this’ll be at least 3.5 stars. I think they realize they need to treat this franchise with respect (and Tony Gilroy is directing, and he was involved with writing all three of the previous entries. And I trust him), so I expect this can easily be a 4 star film. I just want to see it happen first. I want this to exceed my expectations.

Total Recall

Yeah — this seems like an August film. Like Conan. Two Schwarzenegger remakes in a row. Maybe they’re realizing that these things just don’t work without Arnold and his accent.

If it weren’t for the disaster that was Conan last year, I’d say, “Fuck the release date, this is gonna be awesome,” and say 4 stars. But I know better. An August release date (past the first week, since that’s July bleed-over) really does mean they have quality issues and don’t expect much out of the film. As much as I think this could be okay, I’m gonna be leery.

I’ll say 3 stars. But I’m being optimistic. I hope Colin Farrell can make this work. I hope it’s decent.

I hope it’s fun and not deadly serious. That’s where this (and all these remakes) can go wrong — when they go, “Let’s do it, but make it more action and realistic,” and it’s like — “You know the original had a midget with three tits, right?” Let’s hope they don’t fuck this up.

Dog Fight

There’s no poster, so why not go with that photo?

What the fuck is this?

Oh…

Oh.

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Those are two names I do not want to see headlining a movie.

Directed by Jay Roach, who I used to think was a decent director, but seems more like a system guy like Chris Columbus. He had Austin Powers and Meet the Parents, but he also did the sequels to those movies, which ruined any shot of him seeming like a quality director.

He also did Dinner for Schmucks, which — the less said about that, the better.

Two rival South Carolina politicians with presidential aspirations tangle with one another.

This, to me, seems like Step Brothers, a movie I don’t like, but everyone fucking loves. Step Brothers, to me, is like Anchorman or Wedding Crashers — a few (varying, depending on the film) lines that can be quoted (or nice song choices), but on the whole, not very funny. That’s just me. I don’t care if you think I’m an idiot.

So I’m assuming people will go apeshit over this, and I won’t care.

3 stars. Could be okay, could be on Unforgivable watch. We’ll see.

I don’t like Galifianakis and I don’t trust Ferrell anymore (since 2003, really).

Warm Bodies

After a zombie becomes involved with the girlfriend of one of his victims, their romance sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

This sounds fascinating. It must be in August because they don’t know what the fuck to do with this.

It’s a romantic comedy, with a zombie! That’s awesome!

I really want to say 4 stars here, but I honestly don’t know what this could be. The late August date scares me. I’ll still say 3.5 stars, though. This concept is too good to not deliver.

(On the other hand, this is the Scott Pilgrim spot — so maybe this is the really awesome cult movie that everyone loves but fails because it’s not “mainstream” enough. Let’s let the movie decide.)

Sparkle

I knew this sounded familiar. It’s a remake of the 1976 film. They’re just updating it (sort of) and writing new songs. That’s cool.

It’s basically Dreamgirls. Let’s not even pretend it isn’t. Three sisters go from the church choir to Motown. They get famous, but there are family issues — lots of stuff.

This could actually be pretty good.

Or it could suck.

I didn’t particularly like Dreamgirls that much. It was too slick. It felt too much like they were setting up musical numbers. Kind of the way modern action movies feel like they’re just setting up set pieces.

Anyway, let’s go 3 stars. I want this to be good, but — I’m wary.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Oh god.

A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. Soon, a child is born, though Timothy Green is not all that he appears.

Actually — maybe not as bad as I thought.

Maybe it’s the child in me — the one who used to love films like Matilda and The Pagemaster and The Indian in the Cupboard — but I think this could be like that for today’s youth. So I won’t trash it and assume it’ll be terrible.

3 stars. It might not be that bad. Jennifer Garner is bland enough for this to appeal. (2.5 is also very possible, though.)

ParaNorman

This interests me — a “dark” animated movie. Kind of like 9. Or Coraline. Or even Igor. I know they don’t know what to do with this at all. Either put it in February or late August/early September. That seems to be protocol.

A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

I think this can be good. I don’t usually go completely for films like this, so while I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, I doubt it’ll be more than 3 stars. Outside of Disney/Pixar, it seems other animation studios can’t find that magic that makes these films work. So I’ll temper the expectations, but I think I could enjoy this. (Kiddie enjoyable is better than not enjoyable.)

The Expendables 2

I like that I don’t have to worry about this date. The first one made money on this weekend, now the second will. This will look good, making money in a month with no competition.

I’m sure this will be entertaining. The first one straddled the fence between 3.5 and 4 stars (mostly because of the nostalgia factor. It was clearly a 3.5). I think this one will straddle the fence between 3 and 3.5 stars. It’ll almost certainly be one or the other. I can’t see them besting what they did last time (especially when last time was just, “Mmm…nice,” head shake and not, “Oh shit, that was awesome!”, flipping tables. So let’s go 3 stars. Hoping for the best.

The Apparition

Remember when I talked about this last year? And used that exact same picture, because even then, there wasn’t any kind of a poster for this film? And how I (probably) said it would be 1 star and on Unforgivable watch? Well, that stands.

I have no idea what this is about, nor do I really care. The fact that it looked like shit last year, and was bumped to this year, and is being released in the dead zone that is end of the summer means it’ll definitely be shit.

Not sure if it’ll be Unforgivable, but we’ll keep an open mind.

1 star. (Please.)

Outrun

An former getaway driver jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend

Written and co-directed by Dax Shepard. Starring Bradley Cooper, Kristen Bell and Kristin Chenoweth.

Huh…

This could be good, or this could be really bad. 2.5 stars. Let’s wait and see which it is.

(Note: I’m guessing we’re closer to really bad on this.)

The Biggest Movie of All Time 3D

Friedberg and Seltzer have written another movie.

I know you’re all dying to see this new abortion.

It’s making fun of 3D movies. And I guess it will be in 3D.

Can’t you just see where this could go wrong?

-5 stars.

I honestly want to automatically make this Unforgivable, but here’s the thing — we know what we’re getting here. So it’ll only be Unforgivable if I can’t fill ten spots. Otherwise, it won’t be on and we’ll just give it a dishonorable mention.

Premium Rush

In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.

Interesting. Also interesting that this used to have a January release date.

So they scheduled it in the dead zone, then moved it to another dead zone… how bad do they think this is?

David Koepp is directing and co-wrote the film. That’s — not saying all that much. I don’t necessarily trust him like I trust some other people. Ghost Town was okay, but — nothing extraordinary. (Extrasensory, maybe…)

So, maybe 3 stars. 2.5 stars. I’ll probably be one or the other. Late August really is a dead zone for movies.

I’m actually leaning closer to 3 stars, just because this dead zone can have decent films in it. January is just — let’s go 3. I think this could be one of those 90s movies I keep wanting to see more of.

Sinister

I’d actually be really interested if this were a super villain movie.

Seriously Hollywood, why not give villains their own movies? This can work. You do super hero movies, and then you do the super villain movies, and after a few, where they sort of interact, have a big showdown. There is money to be had here! And it will be awesome from a fan’s perspective because you can show both sides, which will make people more invested in the showdown.

I have vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals…

Anyway, what is this about?

Found footage helps a true-crime novelist realize how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity.

Oh jesus. I wish I didn’t know.

2 stars.

The Possession

That’s the original title of the film. That should give you an idea of what you’re in store for.

I love how late August/early September is our go-to dump date for shitty horror/exorcist films. Never fails.

I guess it’s because they figure — they have a limited, but core audience anyway, so why not do it?

Either way, I think we all know what the score is here.

A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl’s father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.

This release is what’s known as resignation. They know it sucks, and they know it won’t make any money. So they dump it here.

2 stars. Probably won’t see it. I don’t do horror movies.

7500

No poster or photos, so, why not post this?

Passengers aboard a flight across the Pacific Ocean encounter a supernatural force.

Seriously, are January and late August the only times to release supernatural thrillers?

2 stars.

– – – – – – – – – –

The thing I said about August in “How to Read a Hollywood Release” was that it’s not really a summer month. It’s more smoke and mirrors than anything. May is more of a summer month than August is.

The franchises and big budget films that come out in August are the ones the studios don’t have big hopes for. Total Recall is clearly that. Like Conan last year. They knew it was of suspect quality and they already spent so much money on it, so they have to release it during the summer. August is the place for it. Maybe it hits, maybe it doesn’t.

That’s the main thing about August. It’s not always about quality, it’s about them not being sure whether or not something’s gonna hit. There are factors in everything (quality, whatever) that make them unsure of whether it’ll succeed. Tropic Thunder, I feel, was one of those. I bet they were expecting to take a bath there, and actually ended up doing quite well. Scott Pilgrim, they did take a bath. Which is a shame. But, when I see something released in August, it’s almost like them admitting defeat. Inglourious Basterds, I think, was them not really knowing what to do with it and being unsure of how audiences would respond.

Each month also has its franchises — for August, this year, it’s Expendables. First one did well in August, so this one gets that same weekend. And Bourne. Ultimatum was actually released to the day, five years earlier. So that makes sense too. Also, August 3rd isn’t really August. It’s that second week where it’s really August. Only when the first Friday of the month is on the 7th does it count as August. Everything else counts as July bleed-over.

I also said:

“August is also the dump month for the Friedberg and Seltzer abortions now. Disaster Movie and Vampires Suck being the last two that graced us with their stench. This is because now they start writing them in April, get them picked up in May, shoot them in June, and edit in July. That’s seriously how they do it. Shows, doesn’t it?”

I’m pretty sure we’re gonna be graced with another one of those this year. Just to keep you warned well in advance.

“Also in August you get the shittiest comedies of all.” — examples: The Switch, The Change-Up.

This year? Dog Fight. Expect the worst, people.

They’re dumping more kids movies in August this year, which I think is a wise decision. There’s always kid money to be taken, and August is a prime example. It’s a nice way to cushion the fall. I like it.

Oh yeah — the August woman’s movie is now a trend. If there’s something similar to Eat Pray Love, Julie & Julia and The Help next year, it will go in the third week of August, mark my words.

Oh hey, I just noticed Step Up 3D was released in August. So they consider that an August “franchise.” Ha ha.

“And at the end of August, you get the beginning of the genre films that typically fill up September.” — exorcism/horror movies and shitty action movies. And we have all of that this year. That’s funny.

I loved how I summed up August: “It’s for cooling down after the hot fire they spit at you in June and July. The later in August a film comes out, and the bigger its budget, the more likely it is to really suck. Unless it’s by an established director. They dump films they don’t trust to make a lot of money in August. Especially when they had big budgets. They feel the summer months make the most money, so they think even though it’ll flop, it can do the best if they release it in August as opposed to October or something. Also in August you get a lot of transitioning into the genre month that is September as well as a lot of bad comedies. If it’s August, and it’s a comedy, run for your life. But overall, you can gauge that, if it’s a big budget movie, maybe it’ll actually be good, and many times, there will even be some gems hidden in August that the studios think will fail financially, but are actually really high in quality. But seriously, watch out for those comedies.”

Watch out for those comedies.

(Note: Friedberg and Seltzer movies do not count as comedies.)

Box office…

First week, should be Bourne. Dark Knight could hold a third week in a row, but I don’t see that happening. Maybe, but I doubt it. Total Recall is also this week. Man, are they setting that up for brutal failure.

Week two — maybe Bourne again. Maybe Dog Fight. Total Recall would fare better here (maybe) if they released it this weekend.

Week three — Expendables.

Week four — either Expendables again, or the woman’s movie that’s not yet in that spot.

Fifth week — god, that’s gonna suck. Something will go there and win like The Help did. There’s no way. (There’s also nothing scheduled the first week of September. Something’s getting moved.)

Any potential good movies in August?: Bourne Legacy, Warm Bodies, ParaNorman (to an extent), Expendables 2.

Unforgivables?: Dog Fight, The Biggest Movie of All Time 3D

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, the shit of September and the early Oscar hopefuls (and shitty Halloween franchises) of October.

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