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Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 07-09-12


 
“The Bourne Legacy” – In theaters August 10th

“The Bourne Legacy” – In theaters August 10th

DF-07548 – Wimpy Kid Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) charts his memorable summer in his diary. Photo by: Diyah Pera TM and ©2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

DF-07548 – Wimpy Kid Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) charts his memorable summer in his diary. Photo by: Diyah Pera TM and ©2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

IA4-086 Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) return in Ice Age: Continental Drift. CR:Blue Sky Studios ICE AGE CONTINENTAL DRIFT TM & ©2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

IA4-086 Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) return in Ice Age: Continental Drift. CR:Blue Sky Studios ICE AGE CONTINENTAL DRIFT TM & ©2012 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Franchise focus: Franchises are Hollywood’s brand name products and they’re highly marketable because moviegoers know exactly what they are.

A case in point is Columbia and Marvel’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which catapulted into theatres with about $140 million for six days surrounding July Fourth. Directed by Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”), the PG-13 rated 3D fantasy action adventure is a reboot of the series that stars Andrew Garfield as Spidey/Peter Parker, Rhys Ifans and Emma Stone.

While the new Spidey didn’t pack quite as much opening punch as “Spider-Man 3,” which kicked off May 4, 2007 to $151.1 million, it certainly speaks well for the power of franchises. “Spider-Man’s” first three episodes earned over $1.1 billion in domestic theatres and the latest episode is clearly keeping the series alive and well. Indeed, the series’ next 3D episode, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” is already on Hollywood schedules for release May 2, 2014.

That summer start date echoes this year’s May 4 launch for Disney and Marvel’s “The Avengers,” which opened to an enviable $207.4 million and has done over $611 million to date domestically. Talk about franchise power! Even though “Avengers” is technically an original film, its strength reflects the combined power of franchise superheroes like “Iron Man,” “Thor” and “Captain America.”

Not surprisingly, Hollywood is particularly keen on franchises when it comes to summer releases. With so much grossing potential built into the summer, studios recognize that starting out with a product everyone’s already familiar with is smarter and easier than trying to educate moviegoers about something entirely new. These are characters that people know and like and their appeal is typically so broad that no one wants to be unable to join in the inevitable conversations about them that will take place after they open.

Original films are more desirable at other times of the year – especially during the Oscar season when franchises tend to be scorned because they’re “just” mainstream entertainment and aren’t driven by film festival applause, great reviews or critics groups’ awards. In the late fall and winter months moviegoers seem more open to discovering interesting new films with something to say than they are in the summer when escapist entertainment rules the multiplexes.

Nothing heats up the summer boxoffice better than popcorn pictures that are the latest episodes in series moviegoers have enjoyed for years.

This weekend should see the multiplexes generating that kind of success with Fox and Blue Sky Studios’ PG rated 3D animated comedy adventure “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” opening July 13.

Directed by Steve Martino (“Horton Hears a Who!”) and Mike Thurmeier (“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”), “Drift” stars such voices as Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo.

In this fourth episode of the franchise, which has already grossed $568.3 million in domestic theatres, Manny (Romano), Diego (Leary) and Sid (Leguizamo) are on a continent that’s suddenly starting to drift. Sailing along on an iceberg, they encounter sea creatures and do battle with pirates.

“Drift” is tracking best with 25-plus women, which means moms-with-kids and is exactly the audience animated features are looking for.

One week later on July 20, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures will unveil their highly anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises,” the concluding episode in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The film’s returning stars include Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman. Newcomers to the all-star cast include: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard.

“The Dark Knight” grossed $533.3 million in domestic theatres after opening July 18, 2008 to $158.4 million. Warner’s six “Batman” films – “Batman” (1989), “Batman Returns” (1992), “Batman Forever” (1995), “Batman and Robin” (1997), “Batman Begins” (2005) and “The Dark Knight” (2008) – have together grossed over $1.4 billion in domestic theatres.

Warners’ marketing of this final episode in Nolan’s Batman trilogy emphasizes “the legend ends,” which reflects moviegoers’ interest in seeing how massively popular franchises conclude. The final episodes in Summit Entertainment’s “Twilight Saga” and Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter” franchises were both must-see movies.

Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate will step up to the plate July 27 with the 3D PG-13 rated romantic music drama “Step Up Revolution,” the fourth “Step Up” franchise episode. Directed by Scott Speer (“The LXD 2: Secrets of the Ra”), it stars Kathryn McKormick, Ryan Guzman and Adam G. Sevani. It’s tracking best with under-25 females.

The series’ last episode, “Step Up 3D,” opened Aug. 6, 2010 to $15.8 million and ended up grossing $42.4 million domestically. The low budget franchise’s three episodes to date have grossed nearly $166 million in domestic theatres.

August will see three more franchises roll into multiplexes. Universal’s Aug. 3 launch of “The Bourne Legacy” is a new take on the studio’s blockbuster “Bourne” franchise. Directed by Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”), it stars Jeremy Renner (“Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol”).

“The Bourne Ultimatum,” the original franchise’s last episode, opened Aug. 3, 2007 to $69.3 million and earned $227.5 million domestically. The franchise’s first three episodes grossed $525.4 million in domestic theatres.

While the Jason Bourne character that Matt Damon played isn’t in the new episode, Universal’s marketing is making it clear that we’re still very much in the edge-of-your-seat CIA action world of the Robert Ludlum novels that sparked the franchise.

Aug. 3 will also see Fox’s release of the PG rated live action comedy “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” from Fox 2000 Pictures and Color Force.

By the way, last Aug. 5 Fox had great success with its reboot of the “Planet of the Apes” franchise, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which opened to $54.8 million and wound up grossing $176.8 million domestically. It’s a perfect example of how a long familiar franchise property can be rebooted and marketed to today’s moviegoers who start out already knowing enough about it to be interested in finding out more.

Directed by David Bowers (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules”), “Diary” stars Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron and Devon Bostick. The low budget franchise’s first two episodes grossed nearly $117 million in domestic theatres.

Rounding out the summer’s franchises is Lionsgate’s Aug. 17 opening of “The Expendables 2.” Directed by Simon West (“The Mechanic”), its ensemble cast includes: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth and Jean-Claude Van Damme with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The original “The Expendables” opened Aug. 13, 2010 via Lionsgate to $34.8 million and wound up doing $103 million domestically.

Bottom line: The old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt” doesn’t apply in Hollywood where familiarity drives blockbuster movie franchises.