ZAMM.COM: August Action

By Martin Grove,

August action: With Guardians of the Galaxy setting a new August record with its stellar $94 million opening weekend, August is off to an action-packed start at the box office. Marvel Studios and Disney's late summer launch for Galaxy paid off by turning a typically sleepy August weekend into summer prime time at the multiplexes.

Last year at this time, the number one film, 2 Guns, opened to just $27.1 million. All films in the marketplace took in $138 million. Last weekend's marketplace total was $184 million, up about 33% from 2013.

Given its firecracker start as August's biggest opening ever and Marvel's fourth film this year to open to over $90 million, Galaxy's a safe bet to boost ticket sales throughout the month and help moviegoers get through the Dog Days of summer. It also will drive ticket sales abroad, opening to $66.4 million in its first wave of international theatrical release. That makes its opening weekend worldwide cume an enviable $160.4 million.

August will also bring more than a dozen other wide releases targeted to all moviegoing demos. Here's a quick look at what to expect at the multiplexes.

This weekend's crowded with five new arrivals, including a franchise reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at about 3,800 theatres from Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies and Platinum Dunes. The PG-13-rated 3D action adventure comedy is directed by Jonathan Liebesman and stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett and William Fichtner. Its producing team includes Transformers producer-director Michael Bay.

Fichtner plays The Shredder, who with his evil Foot Clan holds New York in an iron grip--until four unlikely outcasts rise from the sewers to discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and join forces with a fearless TV reporter (Fox) and her cameraman (Arnett) to save the city.

Turtles is tracking in double digits as a first choice film for under-25 males and is doing nearly as well with men over 25.

The franchise's first three titles, released in the 1990's via New Line Cinema, grossed $256.3 million in domestic theatres at a time when ticket prices were considerably lower than they are today.

Also hitting theatres Aug. 8 is Warner Bros., New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow Pictures' PG-13 action thriller Into the Storm, at about 3,250 theatres, from Final Destination 5 director Steven Quayle. Starring are Sarah Wayne Callies, Richard Armitage and Jeremy Sumpter.

In Storm, a devastating tornado becomes the focus of a group of high school students, who set out to document the relentless event and its grim aftermath.

Storm's tracking best with 25-plus females and nearly as well with under-25 males, an unusual combination of moviegoing demos that could give it some added box office punch. DreamWorks, Amblin Entertainment and Disney's drama The Hundred-Foot Journey also begins its box office journey Aug. 8 at about 2,000 theatres. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom , it stars Helen Mirren, Om Puri and Manish Dayal.

Its story's about the Kadam family, who open a restaurant and are suddenly at odds with Madame Mallory (Mirren), the owner of a nearby grand French restaurant. Later, things take a better turn when Mallory takes the family's talented young chef Hassan (Dayal) under her wing. Journey's tracking best with over-25 females, the likely core audience for such a story.

Summit Entertainment's PG-13-rated 3D romantic dance drama Step Up All In, from first-time feature director Trish Sie, also arrives Aug. 8 at about 2,000 theatres. Starring are Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Stephen tWitch Boss, Misha Gabriel, Izabella Miko, Alyson Stoner and Adam G. Sevani.

This latest episode of the hit franchise revolves around stars from previous chapters who meet up now in Las Vegas, battling for a victory that could define their dreams and careers. The first four titles in the modestly budgeted series grossed $200.8 million domestically. The most recent chapter, Step Up Revolution, opened July 27, 2012 to $11.7 million and did $35.1 million domestically. It did way better, however, in international theatres, taking in $105.4 million.

All In's tracking best with under-25 females, the right audience for a dance movie.

Rounding out the Aug. 8 roster is IFC Films' wide expansion of its R-rated critically acclaimed time-lapse drama Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. In limited release for four weeks to date, the film's grossed about $7.6 million while generating an encouraging early awards buzz. Filmed over a 12 year period with the same cast, Boyhood's story about growing up is seen through the eyes of a child, Mason (Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen. We see snapshots of Mason's adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between. The film is a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past as well as an ode to growing up and parenting.

Boyhood's tracking best and equally well with men and women over 25, reflecting its strong appeal to parents.

20th Century Fox's R-rated action comedy Let's Be Cops will get a jump on the following weekend by opening Wed., Aug. 13. Directed by Luke Greenfield, it stars Nina Dobrev, Jake Johnson and Angela Kerecz.

Cops is the ultimate buddy cop movie except for one thing--they're not really cops! Its story revolves around two struggling pals (Johnson and Damon Wayons, Jr.), who decide to dress up as police officers for a costume party and then become neighborhood sensations. It's all great until they get entangled in a real life web of mobsters and dirty detectives and must put their fake badges on the line.

Cops is tracking best and in double digits with under-25 females and next best with under 25 males.

Aug. 15 will see a familiar action thriller brand return with Lionsgate and Millennium Films' PG-13-rated The Expendables 3.

Directed by Patrick Hughes, its all-star cast includes such top action names as Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson.

In the latest episode, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team are pitted against Stonebanks (Gibson), who years earlier co-founded The Expendables. After Stonebanks became a ruthless arms trader, Barney was forced to kill him--or so he thought. Now Stonebanks is out to destroy The Expendables and Barney's fighting him with new blood, bringing in younger, faster, tech-savvy team members.

E3's tracking best and equally well in double digits with men under and over 25, exactly the right core audience for an action thriller.

In late July a digital file containing a high quality print of E3 was stolen and uploaded to the Internet, reportedly resulting in over a million downloads of the movie. Lionsgate is suing the owners of the websites that posted the pirated print of E3.

The Expendables 2 opened Aug. 17, 2012 to $28.6 million and wound up doing $85 million domestically. Like many other action films, it did substantially more business internationally--$220.4 million, bringing its worldwide cume to $305.4 million.

The Weinstein Company and Walden Media's PG-13 rated sci-fi drama The Giver is also launching Aug. 15. Directed by Phillip Noyce, it stars Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.

Based on the novel by Lois Lowry, the film's set in a perfect world where everyone's happy. At the age of 12, Jonas (Thwaites) is selected as his community's Receiver of Memories and begins training with an elderly man known as The Giver (Bridges), from whom he now learns about pain, sadness, war and all the unhappy truths of the real world. Jonas quickly realizes that he's living in a fake community. Confronted with this reality, he now must face difficult choices about his own life and future.

Giver's resonating in tracking reports in double digits with under-25 females, the go-to audience for a book-driven drama like this.

Three more wide releases will enter the marketplace Aug. 22, including Dimension Films' action crime thriller Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, from Sin City directors Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller.

Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke and Rosario Dawson are among the stars of several intertwined classic stories by Frank Miller in which the town's most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants.

The PG-13 rated drama If I Stay from Warner Bros., MGM and New Line Cinema, also arriving Aug. 22, is directed by R.J. Cutler (The World According to Dick Cheney). Based on the novel by Gayle Forman, it stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos and Liana Liberato.

Its story revolves around Mia (Moretz), who thought the hardest decision she'd ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam (Jamie Blackley). Then what should have been a carefree family drive changed everything in an instant. Mia's life now hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, she has only one decision left to make, which will not only decide her future, but her ultimate fate.

Sony Pictures Releasing and Mandalay Pictures' PG rated sports drama When the Game Stands Tall, also arriving Aug. 22, is directed by Thomas Carter and stars Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig and Michael Chiklis.

Inspired by a true story, it's about the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.

August will wind up with two wide releases. Wed., Aug. 27 is opening day for Relativity Media's action thriller The November Man. Directed by Roger Donaldson, it stars Olga Kurylenko, Eliza Taylor and Pierce (007) Brosnan.

Brosnan as an ex-CIA operative is returning to action for a personal mission pitting him against a one-time pupil in a deadly game involving top CIA officials and the Russian president-elect.

Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures' R-rated horror thriller As Above, So Below, opening Aug. 29, is directed by John Erick Dowdle and stars Edwin Hodge, Ben Feldman and Perdita Weeks.

Beneath the streets of Paris, where Below takes place, miles of twisting catacombs are the eternal home to countless souls. When a team of explorers ventures into this uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret hidden within this city of the dead. A journey into madness and terror, the film reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal personal demons that return to haunt us all.

Bottom line: Galaxy's speed-of-light blast-off is even more impressive because it's an original film rather than a well established brand name franchise.

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