ZAMM.COM: May Movies

By Martin Grove,

May movies: With last weekend's $92 million launch for Marvel's PG-13-rated 3D fantasy The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there's already a solid foundation to build a memorable month as more high profile films arrive. Here's a look at the wide releases to watch for in May.

Needless to say, Spidey will be a box office force throughout the month. Directed by Marc Webb, director of the 2012 franchise reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, it stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx. It is starting out with much bigger ticket sales than the last episode, which opened July 3, 2012--a Tuesday opening geared to July Fourth falling on a Wednesday that year--to $62 million and did $262 million domestically.

Spidey had last weekend entirely to himself, but this weekend is another matter with three wide openings competing for moviegoers' time and money.

First up is the comedy Neighbors, from Get Him to the Greek director Nicholas Stoller, stars Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron.

In the film, Mac and Kelly Radner (Rogen and Byrne), a young couple with a newborn baby, run into big problems when they wind up moving next door to a fraternity house.

Neighbors, opening at about 3,200 theatres, is tracking in double digits as an overall first choice. It's doing best and about equally well with under-25 males and females. That's the perfect movie dating crowd to appeal to for an R-rated comedy.

Also on tap for May 9 is the PG-rated comedy Moms' Night Out, opening at about 1,000 theatres. It's from the directing team Andrew Erwin & Jon Erwin and stars Sarah Drew, Sean Astin and Patricia Heaton.

As you'd expect, Moms is tracking best with moms--25-plus women--as a first choice. With that core audience it won't get in Spidey's way or run into the younger female appeal Neighbors.

In the movie, Allyson (Drew) and her BFFs are eager to enjoy a badly needed moms' night out for dinner and fun, but making that happen means having their husbands watch the kids for a few hours. 

Rounding out this weekend is the PG-rated 3D animated family musical Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return, opening at about 2,600 theatres. Directed by Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre, its voice talents include Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer and Dan Aykroyd.

The animated film revolves around Dorothy, who wakes up in post-tornado Kansas and is whisked back to Oz to save her old friends--the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man and Glinda--from a new villain, the Jester. Wiser the Owl, Marshal Mallow, China Princess and Tugg the Tugboat join Dorothy on her new magical journey through Oz to restore order and happiness to Emerald City.

Oz should benefit from its brand name title and also from being targeted to family audiences who don't have a lot to choose from right now. Although Spidey plays well to families, parents with very young children are probably looking for something animated to take them to see. Oz's animated competition is Rio 2, which after four weeks has grossed about $106.5 million. All those families who've already seen Rio 2 are now a prime market for Oz.

Spider-Man's direct competition heats up May 16 with the launch of the PG-13-rated 3D sci-fi action adventure Godzilla, from Monsters director Gareth Edwards. Starring are Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Juliette Binoche.

In this epic rebirth to Toho's Godzilla, the iconic monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by scientific arrogance, threaten mankind's existence. Godzilla is already tracking in double digits as an overall first choice. It's tracking best and almost equally well with men under and over 25. There have been some 200 Godzilla movies and television shows since the original 1954 Japanese feature about a nuclear radiation mutant monster wreaking havoc in post-World War II Japan. A high profile Godzilla remake, directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), opened May 20, 1998 to $44 million and grossed $136.3 million domestically.

Meanwhile, the PG-rated biographical sports drama Million Dollar Arm is also on deck for May 16. Directed by Craig Gillespie, it stars Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi and Alan Arkin.

The story revolves around sports agent JB Bernstein's (Hamm), whose career hinges on finding an exceptionally gifted young cricket pitcher in India who can be trained to play for an American major league baseball team.

Arm is tracking best with women 25-plus, an audience that knows and likes Hamm from Mad Men. It's the perfect demo to go after opposite a strong male appeal title like Godzilla.

May 23 starts the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend that in years past marked the summer movie season's official start. Although that distinction's shifted to early May, Memorial Day's still a major event for Hollywood. It's the summer's first holiday weekend, but in much of the U.S. the weather's still cool and sometimes wet so there's usually not much competition from outdoor activities as there is in mid-summer with July Fourth. That translates into expanded moviegoing over the four days and big box office numbers.

The PG-13 rated 3D fantasy action adventure X-Men: Days of Future Past is the perfect high profile franchise for holiday weekend moviegoing. It's the seventh episode in the blockbuster series that started with the launch of X-Men July 14, 2000 to $54.5 million and a domestic total of $157.3 million. All told, the franchise has done $1.1 billion in domestic theatres.

The new episode starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman is directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men and X-Men 2).

In Days of Future Past, the original X-Men trilogy characters join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in an epic battle to change the past in order to save the future.

Memorial Day weekend's counter programming to X-Men will be the PG-13-rated comedy Blended from The Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci. It teams up Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, whose previous hits together include 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer.

In the film, single parents Lauren (Barrymore) and Jim (Sandler) vow never to see each other again following a disastrous blind date. But when they sign up separately for a fabulous family vacation with their kids, they're all stuck sharing a suite for a week at a luxurious African safari resort. 

May will end on a high profile note with Disney's PG-rated 3D action adventure Maleficent, from first time feature director Robert Stromberg, whose many visual effects credits include Life of Pi. Starring are Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Sharito Copley.

In this untold tale of Disney's iconic villain from Sleeping Beauty, we learn what hardened Maleficent's heart and caused her to curse baby Aurora.

May 30 will also see the arrival of the R-rated western comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West. Directed by Seth MacFarlane, it stars  acFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson.

The film revolves around a cowardly sheep farmer (MacFarlane) whose girlfriend (Seyfried) leaves him after he backs out of a gunfight.  When a mysterious woman (Theron) rides into town, he finds his courage--and they fall in love. But his newfound courage is put to the test when her outlaw husband (Neeson) arrives seeking revenge.

Bottom line: It's a safe bet the multiplexes will be busy in May. And June should get off to a strong start with Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow.

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