"Every summer, one movie comes along that moves you unlike any other."
So goes the most recent television advertisement for "People Like Us," the family drama aimed at an adult audience that hits theaters later this month. As the TV spot indicates, the DreamWorks film is hoping to find the kind of success that "The Help" did at the box office when it was released last August, grossing nearly $170 million by the end of its theatrical run.
"People Like Us" follows a young man (Chris Pine) who discovers after his estranged father's death that he has a long-lost half-sister (Elizabeth Banks). It's a serious, often emotional story that doesn't have the same light, romantic overtones as past adult hits such as "Julie & Julia" or "Eat, Pray, Love." Or even the flat-out humor that popped up in "The Help."
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," which has recently done well with older audiences, is also a somewhat upbeat, life-affirming story. That film, which is a hit overseas with more than $80 million in ticket sales, has grossed $35.5 million thus far in the U.S. and Canada.
Still, "People Like Us" writer-director Alex Kurtzman said the fact that a movie like "Marigold Hotel" can still find a following is encouraging to him.
"Especially in the summer, where there's so much noise, it's very hard to find something for an older audience that they can relate to," said Kurtzman, who, ironically, co-wrote two of the films in the high-decibel "Transformers" franchise.
The film's leading man has also had plenty of experience with bigger-budget blockbusters, appearing in the reboot of "Star Trek" and its upcoming sequel.
"We live in an odd time where it seems like it's the blockbusters are what people really crave," Pine said at the film's Los Angeles Film Festival premiere last week. "They're the money-makers for the studios because the studios are run by corporations that have a bottom line. Financially speaking, I can understand that. But I think with movies like this and what we saw with 'The Artist' -- a film that's silent and black and white that appealed to so many people and achieved such critical success -- that hopefully it speaks to an appetite on the part of audiences for that kind of film."
So far, however, pre-release audience surveys indicate the film is not generating that much excitement. Interest in the film is not only relatively low, but has actually declined slightly in the last 10 days.
The film's cast, meanwhile, is remaining optimistic.
"I do think that audiences are coming for this kind of film," said Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays the mother of Pine's character in the movie. "We love the big blockbuster movies -- the action and the supernatural movies. But we love these kind of films too, and I personally miss them."
Follow Amy Kaufman on Twitter @AmyKinLACopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times