August 2022 box office preview: Brad Pitt’s ‘Bullet Train’ rolls straight into summer’s slower final month

We’re getting closer to what some lovingly (and some not so lovingly) call the “dog days of summer” at movie theaters. There can still be a few breakout hits, and even a few early Oscar contenders, but the studios know schools are starting back up, people are going on vacation, etc. It has never been the best time to release a movie, especially as it gets later in the month. Read on for Gold Derby’s August 2022 box office preview.

With that in mind, we have about eight or nine wide releases of various sizes that will get some sort of nationwide release, and maybe, there will be a few hidden gems in there.

Bullet Train” (Sony) – August 5

The first wide release of August is also likely to be the biggest of the month, as Brad Pitt leads the new action movie from David Leitch (“Deadpool 2”), which co-stars the likes of Bad Bunny, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Zazie Beetz (reuniting with Leitch from “Deadpool 2”), Brian Tyree Henry and Sandra Bullock, playing a smaller role as payback for Pitt’s appearance in “The Lost City.” The trailers have been fairly pervasive, and it looks like a great return to form for Pitt, who hasn’t been in much since his Oscar win for Quentin Tarantino‘s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” in 2019. Because of that, this R-rated action flick has a good chance at opening with $38 to $40 million or more as the summer’s last ditch effort to get another substantial hit. We’ll have more about this in the weekend preview next Wednesday.

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“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” (Crunchyroll/Sony) – August 19

Every time an Anime feature film opens big in the States, everyone is shocked and surprised, and that certainly was the case when “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” opened with $9.8 million in January 2019 and grossed $30 million domestically. In this one, the franchise’s hero Goku takes on old foes in the Red Ribbon Army. Not having seen any “Dragon Ball” series or movies, I don’t really know that much about the appeal other than the fact that this could benefit from the slower month to do quite well, possibly even with $12 to $15 million opening weekend. Never underestimate Anime.

“Beast” (Universal) – August 19

Idris Alba, in his first of two movies this month, plays a father who finds himself trapped in the African Savannah with his two teenage daughters, as they’re terrorized by a renegade lion. It’s the new movie from Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur (“Everest”), and it co-stars Sharlto Copley (“District 9”), although it feels more like a low-key thriller that might not open with more than $15 million or so.

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” (A24) – August 5

The second feature from Dutch actress Halina Reijn is this slasher film about a group of 20-somethings gathered at a remote family mansion during a hurricane beforea  party game of “Bodies Bodies Bodies” turns lethal when they start being killed off one by one. Starring Amandla Stenberg (“The Hate U Give”), Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”), and Pete Davidson, the movie is getting a limited release at first, but then will expand nationwide on August 12, hopefully to make a mark before a slew of other horror films. We’ll have more about this in next week’s weekend preview, as well.

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“Three Thousand Years of Longing” (MGM/UAR) – August 31

“Mad Max: Fury Road” filmmaker George Miller returns with a movie about “djinn,” including one played by Elba, who spends most of the movie in a bathrobe with Tilda Swinton’s literary scholar, telling his story while he awaits for her to make three wishes. This is a very different movie for Miller, adapted from A.S. Byatt’s short story, and it received mixed reviews when it premiered at Cannes. I’m gonna abstain on a box office prediction for this one until later in the month.

“The Invitation” (Sony) – August 26

The third horror film of the month stars Nathalie Emmanuel from the “Fast & Furious” franchise as a woman  romanced by a man who turns out to be a vampire. At any other time, this film directed by Jessica M. Thompson might find some fans, but the movie’s pre-Labor Day weekend opening feels like it’s being dumped by Sony to likely be missed and then quickly forgotten. Maybe I’m wrong, but even with little competition, this one will struggle to make $10 million opening weekend.

“Easter Sunday” (Universal) – August 5

Another interesting release this month is this comedy vehicle for Philippine stand-up comic Jo Koy, who has had a number of successful Netflix stand-up specials. This one is centered around a Filipino family gathering to celebrate Easter Sunday, based on Koy’s life experiences and stand-up act. It’s directed by Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar, but it’s definitely one of this month’s great unknowns in terms of who will venture out to see it.

“Fear” (Hidden Empire Releasing) – August 26

Filmmaker Deon Taylor didn’t let the COVID pandemic stop him from being one of the first productions after the shutdown in 2020. His self-released movie about a “contagious airborne threat” is being unveiled in a month chock-full of horror, including Sony’s “The Invitation” opening the very same weekend, so it might struggle to make a mark.

“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” (Focus Features) – September 2

The other Labor Day weekend wide release is this Sundance favorite from Adamma Ebo, who has expanded his original short for his feature directorial debut starring Regina Hall as Trinitie Childs, the First Lady of a Southern Baptist church rocked by a scandal, who tries to help her pastor husband Lee-Curtis (played by “This is Us” star Sterling K. Brown) rebuild their congregation. Stay tuned on this one.

“Mack and Rita” (Gravitas Premiere) – August 12

Directed by Katie Aselton (“The Freebie”), this high-concept dramedy stars Elizabeth Lail (“Once Upon a Time”) as a 30-year-old writer who wakes up after a lost weekend in Palm Springs to have been turned into her 70-year-old self, as played by Diane Keaton. Also starring recent Emmy nominee Martin Short, the movie plays on concepts from comedy classics, such as “Freaky Friday,” “Big,” and “13 Going on 30,” but it’s hard to say if this will do particularly well under Gravitas Ventures’ new theatrical label.

“Laal Singh Chaddha” (Paramount) – August 11

And now for something completely different, or rather, somewhat mostly the same, since this Bollywood movie is a remake of Tom Hanks’ Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump,” and it will be released presumably fairly wide by Paramount. I’m going to hold off on making a prediction just now.

Let’s get into a few of August’s limited releases and streaming movies, including a few others that premiered at Sundance back in January.

“Prey” (20th Century/Hulu) – August 5

One of the month’s biggest mysteries will be why 20th Century Studios (aka Disney) decided to throw this new “Predator” movie from Dan Trachtenberg (“10 Cloverfield Lane”) onto Hulu rather than releasing it theatrically. Starring Amber Midthunder (“Roswell, New Mexico”), this one takes place in the 18th Century and deals with a Predator going up against the Comanche Nation.

“Fall” (Lionsgate) – August 12

Yet another thriller opening this month, though not necessarily wide, is this high-concept movie from director Scott Mann about two friends who decide to climb a huge 2,000-foot radio tower. As you can expect from the title, it probably won’t go well.

“Summering” (Bleecker Street) – August 12

Filmmaker James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”) returns with this coming-of-age adventure that premiered at Sundance about a quartet of middle school girls who discover a body and go on an adventure to find out how it got there.

“Emily the Criminal” (Roadside Attractions) – August 12

One of the more exciting movies at Sundance was John Patton-Ford’s crime-thriller starring Aubrey Plaza as a financially fraught woman who ventures into the criminal world of credit card scams to make a quick buck.

“Spin Me Round” (IFC Films) – August 19

Plaza also appears in hubby Jeff Baena’s dark comedy starring Alison Brie (“GLOW”) as a woman who wins an all-expenses paid culinary trip to Florence, and ends up on a very different adventure than the one she expected.

“Orphan: First Kill” (Paramount+) – August 19

Thirteen years after Jaume Collet-Sera (“Jungle Cruise”) directed this twist on the evil kid thriller, Isabelle Furhman’s Esther returns. This is a prequel that shows how she escaped from an Estonian psychiatric facility and began her deadly deceptions. And yes, Fuhrman is playing a younger version of Esther even though she herself is 13 years older. I’ll be curious to see how that works.

“Breaking” (Bleecker Street) – August 26

John Boyega from the most recent “Star Wars” trilogy plays Brian Brown-Easley, a Marine veteran dealing with PTSD on returning to civilian life in Abi Damaris Corbin’s drama, which also premiered at Sundance.

“Funny Pages” (A24) – August 26

Owen Kline’s coming-of-age comedy about a teenage cartoonist, played by Daniel Zolghadri, trying to break into comics, may have benefitted from having the Safdie Brothers (“Uncut Gems”) as producers.

“Samaritan” (UA Releasing) – August 26

Sylvester Stallone stars in this take on this take on the superhero genre, playing one who has gone missing after an epic battle 20 years earlier, who is rediscovered by a young boy. This was supposed to get a theatrical release, but may now just stream on Prime Video or a mix of both.

Not a new movie exactly, but you’ll have your first chance ever to see Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on IMAX screens when Universal gives it a 40th Anniversary release starting August 11.

That’s it for August, and the next box office monthly preview will hit Gold Derby probably just after Labor Day.

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