Scarlett Johansson Set to Propel 'Lucy' as July's Sleeper Hit

on July 15, 2014

lucy.pngBy Shawn Robbins

Starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman, Luc Besson's Lucy is gearing up for its July 25 release with solid buzz out front. Universal is currently full throttle in a confident, to-the-point marketing campaign with the film's promos showcasing a high concept story and Johansson's physical prowess.

Besson, writer/producer of the Taken films, is no stranger to the action genre. As a major part of Liam Neeson's most iconic role in recent years, he helped give the star a whole new platform to master. Besson's more hands-on approach with Lucy (which he writes and directs) could have a similar effect for Johansson--already a growing staple of action flicks thanks to her turns as Black Widow in three Marvel films to date, including what is so far 2014's top domestic earner (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Between it and The Avengers, her box office street cred has improved significantly among both men and women. Media coverage of Johansson's pregnancy with fiancé Romain Dauriac rounds out the brewing perfect storm for Lucy's awareness.

As an original movie, Lucy could expand upon that drawing power even more. This summer's been filled to the brim with pictures that have underperformed or, at least, failed to genuinely impress at the domestic box office. 2014 isn't the first year that's happened, but historically it's a precursor to fresh concepts and/or non-sequels inspiring higher-than-typical demand from moviegoers.

Other than simply moving away from a competitive month of August, that observation may have been on Universal's and EuropaCorp's minds when pushing up Lucy's North American release from August 8 to July 25 two months ago. Realizing the need for a prominent female-led summer release was another likely factor. Internationally, Lucy will still open in staggered fashion throughout August and September (including a special, overseas-only IMAX release on August 8).

Social Media Builds a Case

Lucy's Facebook page added an incredible 426,000 new fans between June 14 and July 14, and has gained a stellar 64,000 today (July 15) alone. In all, the film boasted over 730,000 "likes" at the time of this story's publishing. For a movie with no built-in audience, those are very impressive signs. In contrast, Transcendence added 19,000 fans during the comparable period (for a total of 132,000). Flixster anticipation and Twitter activity further support the odds of Lucy cementing sleeper hit status.

July 25 will also see the release of Brett Ratner's Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson. The audience overlap between it and Lucy could hold each movie back somewhat, but despite Johnson's proven star power in recent years, Lucy is quietly becoming a strong contender to steal more of that film's potential viewers. Hercules hasn't been a slouch on the social media front either, and we'll continue to follow each respective pic's trends as the competition for next week's box office heats up. If word of mouth for Johansson's actioner takes off, don't be surprised by a run toward $100 million stateside.

Follow Shawn Robbins and BoxOffice on Twitter for global box office news and analysis

Tags: north-america, Transcendence, Brett Ratner, Dwayne Johnson, Hercules, Universal Pictures, Marvel's The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Morgan Freeman, Scarlett Johansson, Liam Neeson, Taken, Luc Besson, Lucy

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