Saturday, May 4, 2013

Who Will Win The Summer Box Office?

Math is not my strong-suit, but that doesn't stop me from trying to speculate what movies will rule the summer box-office year after year. I usually do quite good, although I always make terrible, terrible mistakes that I feel embarrassed about a year later. Last year, for example, I predicted The Dark Knight Rises would make more money than The Avengers. We all know how that turned out, with Avengers becoming only the third highest-grossing movie of all-time behind Avatar and Titanic.
This seems to be a particularly packed summer. I don't think we'll have a movie that dominates the box-office in the way The Avengers did last year and I'm actually awaiting some surprises in the following months. Here's what I think will happen, The top ten movies of the summer will be...
(These numbers are for the domestic box-office only, I have no idea how to predict crazy foreign markets where 'Alice in Wonderland' becomes the highest grossing movie of all time) 

1. Iron Man 3
Predicted Box-Office: $350 Million
 It already made more than 300 million internationally in less than a week. That doesn't necessarily mean a hit in the States, but considering the box-office performance of the previous Iron Man movies and coming hot off the success of The Avengers, Iron Man will surely do a lot of money. International numbers are usually north of 50% of the gross of this kind of movies, so considering the foreign numbers will keep growing, Iron Man 3 is most likely to be the biggest movie of the summer.

2. Despicable Me 2
Predicted Box-Office: $300 Million
Did you know Despicable Me made more than 250 million at the domestic box-office? That's more than any Madagascar or Ice Age movie has ever made. Animated movies always do good in the summer. Going to the movies is, after all, a way of keeping your children entertained while sitting in an air-conditioned room. And considering a lot of children have probably been watching the original Despicable Me movie over and over on DVD since it came out in 2010, the sequel is going to be high on their list of things to go see this summer. A lot of adults and teens also think those little yellow Minions are funny, so the box-office of this movie is not reserved to young kids and families.

3. Man of Steel
Warner Bros.
Predicted Box-office: $250 Million
At least on paper, Superman feels to much of an old-fashioned hero for contemporary audiences. The last attempt at relaunching the character, in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, did 200 Million at the box-office and was considered a big disappointment (it had cost, after all, 300 Million to make). Still, back when Returns came out, superhero movies weren't as big as they are now and Warner has recruited Christopher Nolan, who did wonders with Batman to supervise the relaunch of Superman. As recently as 2011 a similarly old-fashioned hero, Captain America, did 170 Million domestically. And you know he doesn't even come close to Superman's popularity. But the best of signs to me seems to be that the excitement for this movie is not reserved to the internet (where anticipation is admittedly huge), but people out on the streets are curious to watch Man of Steel. The original Iron Man made 318 Million when it came out, so these numbers would probably be enough for Warner to look optimistic about launching an Avengers-like enterprise towards releasing a Justice League movie.

4. Monsters University
Predicted Box-office: $250 Million
Pixar movies usually make at least 200 Million and there's no reason to believe Monsters University will be the exception. The question is how far north of 200 is it going to end up? This is another case in which children have been watching the movie in DVD for more than ten years (the original Monsters, Inc. came out in 2001), but this is not as beloved a property as, say, Toy Story, which made huge bank (north of 400 Million) when it came out with a third installment in 2010. My remembrance of Monsters, Inc. is so clouded by how much people preferred Shrek back when it came out, that I am not quite sure how to predict it. Considering it's a well-known property and it's Pixar, I think 250 is a reasonable number.

5. Star Trek Into Darkness
Predicted Box-Office: $250 Million
J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek made 257 Million, and that was back when it was still regarded as an extremely geeky franchise. The success of the action-packed reboot would indicate that the sequel would make more money, but at the same time I feel like Star Trek's situation is the opposite of Man of Steel's. In this case I think the internet is ablaze with expectations for the new movie, while the regular audience isn't particularly excited. Could it end up making less than its predecessor?

6. Fast and Furious 6
Predicted Box-Office: $225 Million
The Fast and the Furious franchise was kind of a niche reliable performer for Universal until the hugely surprising success of Fast Five a couple years ago. It turned from a straightly cars/racing franchise into more of an action/heist movie and it suddenly grew to have massive appeal in general audiences. The excitement for Fast and Furious 6 after that Super Bowl spot is palpable and everything indicates it will be the highest grossing movie in the franchise. So, if Fast Five did 209 Million, then 225 Million for 6 seems logical.

7. The Hangover Part III
Warner Bros.
Predicted Box-Office:. $200 Million
Both The Hangvoer and The Hangover Part II did a boatload of money, but Part II wasn't nearly as well received as the first installment, so what to make of Part III? It will certainly do well, enough people will want to see how the series concludes, but at the same time a lot of people may have not feel as enthusiastic as when Part II came out. It also comes out the same weekend as Fast and Furious 6. Both movies are aiming at basically the same audience and I think there is more excitement for Fast 6 than for another Hangover.

8.Pacific Rim
Warner Bros.
Predicted Box-Office: $180 Million
This is where it gets tricky and this prediction may very well be wishful thinking that Guillermo Del Toro's next movie is a success both commercially and creatively. On the one hand, for people who don't follow this kind of stuff, Guillermo Del Toro might not ring a single bell. Most of America certainly hasn't seen Pan's Labyrinth, am I right? Also, with giant monsters and robots punching each other, many adults may think the film looks silly or that it is nothing more than a Transformers-knockoff. On the other hand, kids love robots. And giant monsters. And even more when they're fighting, so they may turn this into a hit. Is the movie geek/internet community strong enough to join the kids and make this a hit?

9. The Wolverine
20th Century Fox
Predicted Box-Office: $180 Million
Granted, not many people go around saying they're excited for the new Wolverine film, but at the same the last time Hugh Jackman played the character in the big screen, the terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine did little less than 180 Million. Could it be safe to assume this one ends up around that number again?

10. The Lone Ranger
Walt Disney
Predicted Box-Office: $150 Million
This one has me pulling my hair. Last year, Dark Shadows proved that Johnny Depp is not as much of a reliable commodity as studios might hope. But this isn't exactly Dark Shadows. This is a Jerry Bruckheimer film distributed by Disney that looks quite a bit like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And those have always done big money. In any case, even if the film bombs in the US, rest assured it will be a hit overseas where Johnny Depp actually is a reliable commodity. Case in point: Dark Shadows made 165 Million in the foreign market compared to 79 in the US.

What About The Others?
There's a lot of other movies that could end up in the top 10. There is, for example, very little comedy in my prediction. There can easily be room for one or two more big comedy hits. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy (both very good box-office performers so far) are teaming up in buddy-coop comedy The Heat. Meanwhile Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn share the screen again in Google-commercial-turned-movie The Internship, could they replicate the success they had almost a decade ago with Wedding Crashers?
And what about Will Smith? Are we underestimating one of the most reliable box-office draws as far as stars go? He does star in M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth, though. When was the last time Shyamalan had a hit? Another box-office draw is Matt Damon who stars in Elysium, by Neil Blomkamp whose District 9 was a surprise hit in 2009. Also, there's rising star Channing Tatum who co-stars with Jamie Foxx in White House Down.
Finally, like I've said in this post before, animation does really well in the summer and this season is full of animated films. Dreamworks' Turbo and Blue Sky's Epic seem like the most likely contenders, but I haven't seen much publicity or awareness for either of those movies.
There you have it. Be sure to come back when the summer's over to see how badly I did at predicting this thing.
If you're reading this, leave comments if you please

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