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MARTIN GROVE'S HOLLYWOOD REPORT -- JUNE JOLT - 05/27/14


 
Muppets Most Wanted - Miss Piggy

Transformers- Age of Extinction: Optimus

Need For Speed

Edge of Tomorrow - Emily Blunt

Noah - Russell Crowe

How To Train Your Dragon 2

 

June jolt: After a merry May at the boxoffice, Hollywood's looking for a June jolt fueled by sizzling high profile films arriving as the summer movie season heats up.

Among June's most anticipated wide releases are new 3D franchise episodes like "How to Train Your Dragon 2," opening June 13, and "Transformers: Age of Extinction," arriving June 27. Both should benefit from being in the marketplace when kids are out of school for the summer and many adults are also taking vacation time. That's why Hollywood marketers say that in the summer, "every night is Saturday night."

3D franchise action films were the key to May's strength -- like Memorial Day weekend's $111 million four-day launch for 20th Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment's fantasy action adventure "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

It's the fifth best Memorial Day domestic opening ever and the series' second biggest domestic opening. Those on hand, Fox said, were 56 percent male and 44 percent female, a strong female showing for an "X-Men" episode. 59 percent of the opening weekend audience was over 25. Fox also reported that opening weekend moviegoers liked what they saw. 84 percent rated it in the Top 2 Boxes (excellent and very good) and 74 percent said they'd definitely recommend it. Clearly, "Days" will be helping to drive June's boxoffice in the coming weeks.

Directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men," "X-Men 2"), "Days" stars Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman. The series' last episode, "X-Men: First Class," opened June 3, 2011 to $55.1 million and did $146.4 million domestically.

May got off to a first class start May 2 with another 3D franchise episode -- Columbia and Marvel's fantasy action adventure "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." Directed by Marc Webb ("The Amazing Spider-Man"), it stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx. Spidey arrived to $91.6 million and after four weeks, its cume is $187.1 million.

Mid-May rocked, too, thanks to another 3D franchise episode -- Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' sci-fi action adventure "Godzilla," directed by Gareth Edwards ("Monsters") and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins. "Godzilla" opened May 16 to $93.2 million. After two weeks, its cume is $156.8 million.

May and June share next weekend, which begins Friday, May 30 and ends Sunday, June 1. It's shaping up as a strong transition to summer with Walt Disney Pictures and Roth Films' PG rated 3D action adventure "Maleficent," opening at about 3,800 theatres. It's from first time feature director Robert Stromberg and stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Sharito Copley.

"Maleficent's" tracking in double digits as an overall first choice. It's doing best with under-25 females and nearly as well with women over 25. So this is a film that moms-with-kids are likely to be turning up to see.

It's the untold story about the iconic villain from "Sleeping Beauty" and reveals why Maleficent put a curse on baby Aurora.

May 30 will also bring Universal Pictures and Media Rights Capital's R rated western comedy "A Million Ways to Die in the West," opening at about 3,000 theatres. Directed by Seth MacFarlane ("Ted"), it stars MacFarlane, Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson.

Since "West's" a male appeal film, it's the right kind of counter-programming to "Maleficent." "West" is tracking best with 25-plus males and nearly as well with under-25 men.

Albert (MacFarlane), a cowardly sheep farmer, backs out of a gunfight and loses his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried). But when the mysterious Anna (Theron) rides into town, his courage returns and they fall in love. Albert's newfound courage is then put to the test when Anna's outlaw husband (Neeson) arrives seeking revenge.

June 6 is blast-off day for the PG-13 rated 3D sci-fi action thriller "Edge of Tomorrow," from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures. Directed by Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity"), it stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton.

"Edge" isn't a franchise film, but it's built around two long established summer brands – 3D sci-fi and Tom Cruise. It's tracking best with 25-plus males and next best with under-25 men. "Edge" takes place in the near future when aliens attack Earth with an unbeatable military assault. Major William Cage (Cruise), who's never seen combat before, is sent on what's clearly a suicide mission. He's killed within minutes, but then finds himself in a time loop where he faces the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again and again.

With each battle, Cage, who's fighting alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Blunt), gets better at engaging his adversaries. And as they fight the aliens, each repeated encounter brings them one step closer to victory.

Fox and Temple Hill Entertainment's PG-13 romantic drama "The Fault in our Stars" also opens June 6 and is good counter-programming to the male appeal "Edge." Directed by Josh Boone ("Stuck in Love"), it stars Shailene Woodley, who's hot after "Divergent," Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff.

In "Fault," Hazel (Woodley) and Gus (Elgort) are teens whose relationship began when they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. Hazel's other companion is an oxygen tank and Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg.

"Fault's" tracking best and in double digits with under-25 females. The film's been generating a "Love Story" type buzz and with its young female appeal it could turn out to be a summer sleeper.

DreamWorks Animation and Fox's 3D animated "How to Train Your Dragon 2," which hits theatres June 13, stars the voices of Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig and America Ferrara. It's from "How to Train Your Dragon" director Dean DeBlois and is tracking best with 25-plus women.

"Dragon 2" takes place five years after Hiccup and Toothless united the island of Berk's dragons and vikings. When the two friends discover a secret ice cave filled with hundreds of wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, they suddenly find themselves in a battle to protect the peace.

The first "How to Train Your Dragon" opened Mar. 26, 2010 to $43.7 million via DreamWorks Animation and Paramount and grossed $217.6 million domestically. It did another $277 million internationally for a global cume of nearly $495 million. A third episode in the franchise is already scheduled for release June 17, 2016 through Fox.

Sharing the weekend with "Dragon 2" is Columbia, MGM and Original Film's R rated action crime comedy "22 Jump Street." Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, directors of the franchise's first episode, the 2012 hit "21 Jump Street," it stars Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Ice Cube, who also starred in the original.

"21" opened Mar. 16, 2012 to $36.3 million via Columbia. It wound up doing $138.4 million in domestic theatres.

Here, too, we're looking at good Hollywood counter-programming. While "Dragon 2's" tracking best with women over 25, "22's" tracking best with women under 25 and nearly as well with men under 25.

In "22," after making their way through high school twice, big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership to see if they can have a mature relationship.

The weekend starting June 20 brings another pair of wide openings targeted to different moviegoing demos. The R rated musical biographical drama "Jersey Boys" from Warner Bros., Ratpac Entertainment and GK Films is directed by Clint Eastwood ("Million Dollar Baby") and stars John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza and Christopher Walken.

This big screen version of the Tony Award-winning stage musical tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who became the iconic 1960s rock group The Four Seasons. The group's leader, Frankie Valli, is played by Young, for whom it's his first big movie role.

"Jersey" should play best to over-25 men and women familiar with The Four Seasons' hit records or who have seen the stage musical.

Screen Gems' PG-13 comedy "Think Like a Man Too" should play best with a younger audience, especially under-25 women. Directed by Tim Story, it stars Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union and Wendi McLendon-Covey. Story directed the 2012 hit "Think Like a Man," in which Hart and Union starred.

The original "Think" opened Apr. 20, 2012 via Screen Gems to $33.6 million and grossed $91.5 million in domestic theatres.

In "Too," four women who can't get their guys to do what they want, find a self-help book by Steve Harvey and begin following his relationships advice. That works fine -- until the men find out they're being manipulated!

The month should end with some major boxoffice firepower from the June 27 opening of Paramount and Hasbro's 3D sci-fi action adventure "Transformers: Age of Extinction." It's from Michael Bay, who directed the series' first three episodes, and stars Mark Whalberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor.

The franchise's last episode, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," opened June 29, 2011 to $97.9 million and went on to gross $352.4 million domestically.

In this episode a group of powerbrokers and scientists trying to learn from past Transformer incursions, push the boundaries of technology beyond their control. Meanwhile, an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets his sights on Earth.

Bottom line: "Age" will be well positioned to enjoy sparkling July Fourth ticket sales in its second weekend. This year the Fourth is a three day holiday since it falls on a Friday..

To fix that calendar mishap, Hollywood will just start the festivities early -- on Wed., July 2 -- with four new wide releases competing for moviegoers' time and money..

I'll be focusing on July's films in an upcoming column, but should note there's already a great early buzz for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema's R rated comedy "Tammy," starring "Bridesmaids" superstar Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. That's got Hollywood handicappers thinking "Tammy" fireworks could light up the July Fourth boxoffice skies.