Long Range Forecast: ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ ‘Storks’ & ‘Blair Witch’

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On September 23, Sony’s The Magnificent Seven remake could challenge for the highest September opening weekend of all time, while Warner Bros. will try to fly high with their animated offering Storks. 

The-Magnificent-Seven

The Magnificent Seven (Sony)

PROS:

  • Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington are unquestionably two of the biggest A-list actors in Hollywood. Pratt’s two most recent films were absolute box office gold: 2015’s Jurassic World smashed records including highest opening weekend ever at the time (though since beaten by Star Wars: The Force Awakens), while 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy set the mark for the best August opening weekend ever, second-highest when adjusted for inflation.
  • The movie — about a group of seven who defend their small town against a group of invaders in the Old West — is a remake of the 1960 Western classic of the same name, which was added a few years ago to the Library of Congress select list of “culturally significant” films. This familiarity could help it attract older audiences in addition to the younger audiences who could be attracted by Pratt and the fight sequences.
  • The highest September opening weekend of all time is Hotel Transylvania 2 with $48.4 million last year, or adjusted for inflation 1998’s Rush Hour takes the prize with about $60 million. If The Magnificent Sevenbests either or both of those numbers, which it stands a serious chance of doing, that would help the film’s word of mouth and its multiplier as well.

CONS:

  • The Western genre hasn’t done well at the box office in Hollywood’s most recent few attempts, such as The Hateful EightA Million Ways to Die in the Westand The Lone Ranger. If this indicates a public turning away from the genre, than this film’s grosses might not be so “magnificent” after all.
  • A CBS television show of the same title and based on the original film lasted only two seasons from 1998-2000. Perhaps that may indicate the plot line does not have the same resonance or popularity decades later.

Storks-2016

Storks (Warner Bros.)

PROS:

  • The animated movie has a clever premise: in a world where storks deliver packages instead of babies, one bird has to deliver an accidentally-produced baby to her family. This original twist on the parental euphemism “The stork delivered you” could appeal to children given its talking animals and also adults with a wink and a nod.
  • Excluding early September’s The Wild Life, which is currently projected to have an extremely poor box office showing, there won’t have been a major animated wide release since Kubo and the Two Stringsmore than a month prior, or another after until Trolls a month and a half later in early November. This sweet spot of timing could help Storks fill a void.

CONS:

  • The lead character is voiced by Andy Samberg, whose previous starring vehicle Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is perhaps the biggest bomb of the summer so far, if not the entire year. Comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who voice a pair of wolves, similarly bombed with their April release Keanu.

Blair-Witch-poster-s

Blair Witch (Lionsgate)

The film, originally titled The Woods prior to its name change last week, will be released on September 16, the week before The Magnificent Seven and StorksBoxoffice held off on including it in our long range forecast published last week after its title change and the announcement that it was in fact a sequel to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. We include it here now.

PROS:

  • The original Blair Witch Project was a cultural phenomenon rarely seen at the movies, making $140 million in 1999 dollars (about $240 million in today’s dollars), on a famously low $60,000 budget. By some estimates, that places it as the single most profitable film as a percentage of its budget the history of cinema. Any connection to the original could bring in fans of the first installment.

CONS:

  • 2000’s Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 bombed and was considered a cheap attempt to cash in on the popularity of the original. This film could suffer the same fate.
  • The relatively last-minute title change coming only two months prior to release is a worrying sign. Word that a Blair Witch follow-up is coming out might not get around as fast as if the news had been building for a year, when the film was first green-lit.
TitleRelease DateDistributorOpening WeekendCumulative
The Magnificent SevenSep 23, 2016Sony$49,000,000$150,000,000
StorksSep 23, 2016Warner Bros.$21,000,000$71,000,000