A cloud-based bedroom comedy, an anarchic splatter-pic, and an aviation-themed spin-off to a venerable animated franchise.
Three new films — “Sex Tape,” “The Purge: Anarchy” and “Planes: Fire & Rescue” — each of them targeting radically different segments of the moviegoing population, collide at the multiplexes this weekend. They will compete with the second weekend of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the well-received science fiction adventure that shattered projections when it debuted to $72.6 million last weekend.
“It’s a full slate of movies,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “This summer there hasn’t been enough diversity, but we certainly have that this weekend.”
It’s difficult to discern which film will land on top when the dust settles, but the big winner promises to be Universal’s “The Purge: Anarchy.” The horror film was shot for a meager $9 million, but is on track to scare up to $30 million this weekend when it launches across 3,303 theaters. Some analysts predict it will come close to the $34 million that the first “Purge” raked in last summer, but the studio is being more cautious and predicting a debut in the $20 million range. However it shakes out, “The Purge: Anarchy” is looking like one of the few summer releases to make back its production budget in a single weekend.
Working in its favor will be a dearth of high-profile horror films in the marketplace. “Deliver Us From Evil” barely inspired a single shiver among moviegoers, and the last horror release to top $20 million in its debut weekend was last September’s “Insidious 2.” It is also tracking well with African-American and Hispanic audiences, who have been this summer’s ticket-buying superstars.
On paper, Walt Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” with its lovable, huggable and easily merchandisable band of firefighters, couldn’t be more different from “The Purge’s” blood-drenched vision of the future. However, it too stands to benefit from a lack of similar films in its genre. With the exception of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and “Maleficent,” the summer has been a wasteland for family titles.
“There’s a lot of summer left to go before kids are back in school, and we’re looking to benefit,” said Dave Hollis, Walt Disney Studios’ executive VP of theatrical distribution.
Look for “Planes” to debut to north of $20 million when it debuts in 3,826 theaters, more than half of which will be in 3D. The studio is also positioning the animated sequel up for a nice run overseas, where it will premiere in 23 major territories including Japan, Brazil, Spain and Mexico.
Animated films may have been few and far between, but there’s been no shortage of R-rated comedies hitting theaters, which could work against Columbia Pictures’ “Sex Tape.” The film reunites Cameron Diaz with her “Bad Teacher” director Jake Kasdan and co-star Jason Segel for another rowdy outing, this one with an iCloud twist. The film could break out. Diaz is an indefatigable promoter and is coming off a hit with this spring’s “The Other Woman” and tracking is respectable. A debut of $26 million seems attainable for the cautionary tale of re-enacting large swaths of the Kama Sutra in the digital age, slightly less than “Bad Teacher’s” $31.6 million bow three years ago. It will debut in 3,060 locations and will also premiere in Australia.
Looming over the box office is “Apes,” which received a positive reaction on social media and an A- CinemaScore. Many blockbusters this summer have labored through their second weekends, dropping more than 60%, but analysts expect that the post-apocalyptic thriller will fare better, dropping roughly 50%. That would put its weekend around $34 million, making it one of the rare films to hold on to its box office crown for a second go-round.
In limited release, Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-financed “Wish I Was Here” bows through Focus in 64 theaters in major markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The former “Scrubs” star had a nice indie hit with 2003’s “Garden State” and this film has a similar disaffected vibe and Shins-infused soundtrack.