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New in Theaters Aug. 07: Fantastic Four, The Gift, Shaun the Sheep, Ricki and the Flash

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By Chris Kavan - 08/06/15 at 06:44 AM CT

As we enter August, we also enter the end of the summer blockbuster season. Last year, August was dominated by Guardians of the Galaxy - the surprise Marvel movie that led Chris Pratt to new heights (and likely his role in Jurassic World). This year we're no likely to see anything quite like that film breakout this month - which is likely to be only the second month of the year to lag behind 2014. We do have some superheroes this month, along with a thriller, an animated sheep and Meryl Streep. Big names, big movies but not likely to open to big numbers.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR Out of the many superhero franchises we've been treated to over the years, The Fantastic Four has probably been one of my least favorite. The original (and its sequel) didn't really handle the characters well and the plots (even by superhero standards) were pretty dull. It's not quite Catwoman/Elektra territory, but it's about on par with the disappointing Green Lantern. Josh Trank takes his shot with a more hip, young cast - Miles Teller (so good in Whiplash and The Spectacular Now), Michael B. Jordon (of Fruitvale Station fame), Kate Mara (great in House of Cards) and Jamie Bell (a breakout in Billy Elliott has gone on to great underrated roles in the likes of Snowpiercer and Filth). With a cast like that, you would think the remake/reboot would be in the bag but early reviews are pretty harsh. Too much build up - not enough payoff. Plus, it is reported that Trank lost out on directing a Star Wars spinoff film due to his on-set behavior (rumors - but there is always some truth to those, right?). It's likely the Fantastic Four is not going to hit it big (even though a sequel is already planned) and could even find itself coming in second place to the well-received Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. I think this cast is much better suited to the franchise and I maybe with all the exposition out of the way the sequel could be great but yet another origin story sounds like it bogs down the film too much. I expect this to do okay - but probably won't be raising too many eyebrows.


THE GIFT I don't expect The Gift, with Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall finding out an old "friend" (Joel Edgerton) showing up is the worst gift they could iimagine, is going to make a lot of money. However, I can say that the film is probably the one I am most interested in watching (yet even above Fantastic Four) coming out this weekend. That is because director (also Edgerton) has Jason Blum on his side (who helped produce, alongside Edgerton). Blum is the man behind Blumhouse Productions - which has ushered in some great thrillers and horror films including the Paranormal Activity, Sinister, Purge and Insidious franchises among others.Sure, not every film has been a hit but, by-and-large, many of their films have been successful. Even more so, many of their films have been legitimately scary. I'm hoping this thriller (not a straight-up horror) will follow along the path. It's nice to see Bateman outside of a comedy and Edgerton has a certain edge about him - going off the trailers, anyway. A niche film to say for sure, but one I would be more than keen on checking out.


RICKI AND THE FLASH Normally when you have a multiple Academy-Award Winning actress in the form of Meryl Streep as your main actress, I would say that bodes well (even if just among adults and critics) for the success of your film. However, Ricki and the Flash is looking to be a rare miss for Streep - as I have heard next to nothing about it and it seems they are not gearing up for any kind of awards accolades for this one. Essentially, Streep plays a rock star who is looking to make amends with her family after years on the road (and, of course, ignoring them). While that sounds well and good, I just don't see it working. Even with actual rock star Rick Springfiled (rock being a relative term, I guess) on board, along with the likes of Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer and Sebastian Stan - I'm not seeing how this is going to appeal to a wide audience. Plus there has been almost zero promotion going into this one - and thus I don't even know how many people are aware this is coming out. I expect it to open to minimal numbers and not stick around too long.


SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE Shaun the Sheep comes from Aardman Animation - the same studio that brought us the Wallace and Gromit films - in the same claymation-style animation. This is another film that has flown mostly under the radar - though one wonders why. Aside from Minions, there hasn't been any other family films lately and thus you would think this is a great time to release another animated film before school begins. But, much like Ricki and the Flash, there hasn't been any big push on this one. I see this is as having not enough faith and it is likely to hurt the film's chances at making a decent splash over the weekend. Most times I would hedge my bets on an animated film (especially with limited competition) but because of the lack of effort, I see this one as having a decidedly middle-of-the-road opening as well.


Despite the onslaught of titles opening this weekend, I predict a pretty tame box office to open August. We'll see if this is also the case for the remainder of the month, one that isn't likely to come close to last year's huge numbers.

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Wrote on 08/06/15 at 11:45 PM CT

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