Summer is almost here, so you know what that means: sequels, superheroes, and CGI spectacles. And my annual box office prediction game! Since 2013 I've tried to predict the top ten summer blockbusters to varying degrees of success. This year doesn't seem any easier, as it's always difficult to gauge how fatigued audiences are with certain franchises and what little gems could rise to the surface and become surprise hits. This fun prediction game rewards the accuracy with which you can guess where each summer movie will land on the box office charts. If you'd like to play along, read the points system below and leave your predictions in the comments section:
- Pick 1-10 movies you think will top the US summer box office (May through August)
- 13 points for getting 1 or 10 exactly correct
- 10 points for getting 2-9 exactly correct
- 7 points if movie was one spot away
- 5 points if movie was two spots away
- 3 points if movie was anywhere in the top ten
- 1 point for each dark horse (pick three)
1. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Release Date: May 5
I don't think anybody expected it when the first Guardians of the Galaxy was the #1 summer movie of 2014, making a whopping $333 million during its domestic run. James Gunn's film brought the magic of Star Wars back into our hearts even before JJ's The Force Awakens did, and I think the sequel may even outperform the original. Baby Groot is going to sell toys, Kurt Russell will bring his movie star panache, and now there's a built-in anticipation that wasn't there for the first film, after accruing fans from word of mouth and video releases. No way this doesn't at least crack the top three.
2. DESPICABLE ME 3
Release Date: June 30
Yup. You can't deny the power of the minions. I don't have much of a sense of the cultural "pulse" of family viewers, but the popularity of the Despicable Me brand doesn't seem to be waning much. Unless Cars 3 is an unexpected masterpiece, I expect Despicable Me 3 to wipe the floor with its animated competition this season, dominating July 4th weekend.
3. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Release Date: July 7
While there has definitely been some Spider-Man fatigue as of late (Amazing Spider-Man 2's middling box office caused a lot of problems with Sony), I think the fact that Iron Man himself is a co-star will undoubtedly boost the numbers here. I wonder how much Tony Stark will even be in this movie, but the marketing team has smartly featured Robert Downey Jr. as a key player, trying to get audiences as much as possible to associate this Spider-Man with the "Avengers" brand, not that one with weird, blue Jamie Foxx. Only time will tell if general audiences got that message, or even care about the difference - but, it's Spider-Man! If this movie is any good, expect huge numbers.
4. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
Release Date: June 23
Typically the Transformers movies are critic-proof mega-successes, but I think this will be the first of the series to not be in the season's "top three" spots. I may regret this later, but I truly think audiences are finally realizing how crappy these movies are in relation to their amazing trailers, and I don't think the King Arthur-inspired storyline of this fifth film is as eye-catching as the dino-bots or the introduction of Mark Wahlberg from the fourth film. Still - you know this will make a ton of money regardless, and only further encourage Michael Bay to make more mindless robot movies for years to come.
5. WONDER WOMAN
Release Date: June 2
I thought about putting Wonder Woman as high as number 2, and as low as number 8... this is the most difficult to guess without knowing if the final movie is any good or not. The DC cinematic universe may have botched its audience goodwill with last summer's disappointing Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad - but do general audiences even understand the difference between Marvel and DC movies? Is the pure fact that Wonder Woman is the last remaining "big" superhero to adapt, and the first major stand-alone female hero, enough to warrant a blind sweeping success? It's hard to tell, so I'm putting it right in the middle of my list to stay neutral!
6. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release Date: July 14
I think this will do similar business to the previous Apes film. I doubt this movie will expand much beyond the audience of the last one, as it looks very similar in tone and scope, but that's still nothing to scoff at. The special effects in these movies are incredible and the trailers thus far have been solid, so I can't see this doing poorly.
7. CARS 3
Release Date: June 16
Pixar almost automatically has a spot on this list every year, but the Cars movies are typically families-only affairs, unlike their more parent-friendly offerings like Toy Story and Inside Out which bring in all age groups. Still, kids love Cars so it'll probably still make bank, just not typical "top three" Pixar bank.
8. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
Release Date: May 26
This is a tricky one to place. There have been serious diminishing returns on the Pirates movies, and Depp's star power did nothing to save another unwanted sequel last summer, Alice Through the Looking Glass. But if word on the street is that this movie is halfway decent (the trailers have been pretty promising), I think people will hop aboard ship again.
9. ALIEN: COVENANT
Release Date: May 19
The latest Ridley Scott Alien movie may take a hit due to being sandwiched between Pirates and Guardians, and Prometheus wasn't exactly the massive hit Fox was hoping for, but with a fantastic trailer and evidence that horror can do well during the summer (like The Conjuring), I think this eighth installment in the franchise could definitely make some money, especially in an already horror-strong year (Split, Get Out).
10. THE MUMMY
Release Date: June 9
I think the success of this movie will live and die based on how good it is. Tom Cruise has a lot of good will from the Mission Impossible series and people checking out Edge on Tomorrow on video, but he's also had some relative flops like the recent Jack Reacher sequel. I think audiences are into this trailer, though, and those with fond memories of the action-packed Brenden Frasier Mummy films will check this one out, especially if word of mouth is strong.
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (June 2)
This one I'm really not sure about. Kids will definitely want to see this movie, but will this animated flick provide enough nostalgia to pull in the twenty-somethings who remember the graphic novels? I predict this will end up doing similar business to the Angry Birds movie, which barely missed the list last year.
DUNKIRK (July 21)
Christopher Nolan's latest may be decent counter-programming for older moviegoers who aren't likely to check out the latest superhero or animated film. I don't think the trailers have been super-well received by general audiences, but I could see this as an early WWII Oscar contender generating some pre-fall awards buzz.
SNATCHED (May 12)
There's usually one big R-rated comedy that makes the list, and I think if anything has a shot at cracking the top ten it's Amy Schumer's new comedy, Snatched. Her previous summer flick, Trainwreck, was pretty well received, and without a Melissa McCarthy movie in competition, I think Snatched is the female-driven comedy to beat this summer.
You may have noticed certain movies were absent. What would've been my fourth dark horse is ALL EYEZ ON ME, the biopic about iconic rapper Tupac Shakur; if Straight Outta Compton is any indicator, it has a real shot. I also wrestled with including BAYWATCH - it being a 21 Jump Street-type 80s comedy revival with Zac Efron and The Rock, but to me it seems more likely to flop, pulling in Chips numbers. KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD is Guy Ritche's ADHD take on Medieval mythology, but in a crowded year I don't see it doing super well. Some outright bombs I can see happening include VALERIAN, which seems like another Jupiter Ascending disaster, THE EMOJI MOVIE, which looks like a poor man's Wreck It Ralph, THE DARK TOWER, which doesn't even have a trailer yet (not a good sign), and perhaps most disappointingly, Edgar Wright's BABY DRIVER, one of my most-anticipated this year. Wright hasn't had much box office luck in the summer before, and the film's June release date almost guarantees it'll get lost in the shuffle.
So that about wraps it up! We'll see how I do at the end of August, when I will post my official score and results. Again, if you'd like to play along, leave your predictions in the comments section of this post!