Fox’s comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates was among the slew of release dates that the studio announced last month, arriving alongside announcements for Channing Tatum’s solo Gambit movie, Assassin’s Creed, Fantastic Four 2, and more.
The film was to open opposite the Untitled Next Bourne Chapter on July 29th, 2016. But now the studio has set a new release date for the second weekend in July, instead putting it head-to-head with Paramount’s Star Trek 3.
Zac Efron boarded the comedy last month, which instantly raises its profile, particularly given his success in comedy fare in recent years. And I’ve got a good feeling that the studio will find someone with a similar flare for comedy to star opposite.
Jake Szymanski (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, SNL) is behind the camera with Efron’s past collaborators Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (Neighbors) penning the script, and Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies) producing.
Fox hasn’t given a specific reason for the move, but it looks like there are three main factors to consider here:
In all likelihood, this is almost certainly what’s prompted Fox’s decision to move the film up. Since Fox announced the initial release date, Sony and Paul Feig announced a July 22nd, 2016 release date for the new Ghostbusters movie. That film is going to be led by an all-female cast, topped by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones.
Female blockbusters are few and far between, and Feig has a very successful track record at the box office with them in recent years. He’s got a proven history with both Wiig and McCarthy from the likes of Bridesmaids and The Heat. He’s about to release Spy, marking another partnership with McCarthy. And there’s a huge fanbase that is sure to turn out to see a new Ghostbusters movie, especially if it’s led by as strong a female cast of comedians as this. Feig’s film is set to compete with Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur movie and Lionsgate’s first ever Power Rangers feature film, which will pit stereotypes of male-centric action audiences against fans of female-led comedy.
Even if Ghostbusters doesn’t make it to #1, it’s likely to have strong legs, which would have affected Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ potential for success in its first frame.
The next Bourne chapter sees the much anticipated return of Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon after their stellar work on the second and third instalments of the series, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Ultimatum was expected to be their last time on the franchise, which led Universal to take things in a different direction with The Bourne Legacy three years ago.
Now both have confirmed they will be back for more in July 2016. With the exception of Legacy, the franchise has had more and more success with each new instalment. Identity took $214m., Supremacy followed with $288m., and Ultimatum soared with $442m. So you can understand why Universal would be willing to give Greengrass and Damon the slot in favour of the direct follow-up to Legacy, which was initially set to be released next year. Greengrass and Damon probably wouldn’t have agreed to come back unless they had something good, and that in turn makes things look good for potential box office takings.
3. Star Trek 3
Whilst it’s true that Star Trek Into Darkness built on its predecessor’s successes at the global box office, rising from $385m. to $467m., it also relied much more on the international box office for that success. Its US takings fell from $257m. to $228m. with steep competition from Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, Epic, and Now You See Me in successive weeks.
Simon Pegg has recently been announced as a co-writer on the script, which should come as a welcome relief for fans of the franchise, young and old alike. But it also shows that the film is still at the script stage, so Fox might even be hoping that the sequel won’t meet its early July slot, leaving their comedy to potentially open unopposed. That’s probably unlikely, given how successful the franchise is and how big a part it plays in Paramount’s current schedule for next summer. But this also isn’t a franchise the studio will want to risk rushing and wasting an opportunity for success, even if it means delaying the film to ensure that it’s done right.
Out of everything, I think Sony and Feig’s Ghostbusters news is probably Fox’s biggest concern. Female-led movies are very much in short supply and high demand, and a film like this, that brings women into a previously male-led franchise, is looking incredibly strong this far out. It has its own competition in its first frame with action titans opening alongside it, but past performance has shown films like this to play very well over quite some time.
Bridesmaids opened at #2, at a time when similar female comedies were basically non-existent and it was therefore largely unexpected, and stayed in the Top 10 for eight straight weekends. The Heat beat actioner White House Down in their first frames, and stayed in the Top 10 for six straight weekends. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Spy has similar success this summer.
At any rate, it makes a lot of sense for Fox to move up Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ release date out of direct competition with Ghostbusters, so that this male-led comedy can pick up strong early numbers and have two weekends to itself before another high-profile comedy title enters the arena. At the moment, it will be the first straight comedy of the summer season, and the first comedy in a month since Now You See Me 2. And if Fox can find another strong lead like Efron, genre fans are sure to turn out before Wiig, McCarthy, and co. light up the box office two weeks later.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates will now be released in the US on July 8th. Still no word yet on a UK release date, but I’d imagine Fox’s UK arm will be looking to do the same thing, and avoid that competition. And in case you need any reminding of how funny Cohen and O’Brien’s last film was, here’s the brilliant red-band trailer for Neighbors. Enjoy.