Pop-Ed: Summer 2014 Movie Preview

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Every year when I do these predictions, I usually open with “The Summer Movie Season gets bigger every year.” To be honest, the Summer of 2014 is kind of weak. Yeah, we have big franchises like always, but there’s no Iron Man 3 or Man of Steel like last year, or the two behemoths that were The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. There won’t be a film that gets close to $400 Million, but that doesn’t mean big money won’t fall into the banks of the studios this summer either. We got spiders, turtles, apes, dragons, Godzillas, and the biggest collection of super-powered mutants in the history of movies, so let’s count it down – My 4th Annual Top 10 Summer Box Office Predictions:

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10. A Million Ways to Die in the West: (May 30th)
Everyone kept saying in 2012 that Ted was this big surprise hit. While I didn’t think it would do as well as it did, I knew it was money in the bank that summer. It was a great gimmick, and using the Peter Griffin voice was a good way for people to associate it with Family Guy. While there’s no talking teddy bear this time around, the average moviegoer knows who Seth MacFarlane is. With a stacked cast by its side, including Liam Neeson, people will flock to this comedy, making it another success Seth MacFarlane can put on the resume.

What It Has Going For It: Oh, it’s the Ted guy.

What It Has Going Against It: No teddy bear gimmick, and are people really interested in a western comedy?

Domestic Take: $153 Million

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9. 22 Jump Street (June 13th): How about another comedy? Taking 21 Jump Street and adapting it to the big screen didn’t exactly spell out “Box Office Hit” when I first read about the project. But due to a funny trailer, and excellent word of mouth, 21 Jump Street did quite well for itself. This sequel will perform even better. The directors (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) also helmed The Lego Movie earlier this year, and are certainly getting major street cred among film fans the last couple years. The trailer looks hilarious, and both Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are really coming into their own as actors. This will be the biggest comedy of the summer, no doubt.

What It Has Going For It: Universal love for the first film, and a quick turn around for the sequel.

What It Has Going Against It: Potential Hangover 2 syndrome.

Domestic Take: $160 Million

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8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8th): It wouldn’t shock me if Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the biggest hit of the summer. I’m not kidding. If it gets the same buzz the original Transformers got in 2007, this could absolutely happen, but it’s certainly not likely. The biggest obstacle this movie faces is the negative buzz its endured since the name Michael Bay got attached. But as much crap as Michael Bay gets, his franchise movies make money – a lot of it. If Turtles can put together an amazing second trailer, it has potential to start a mega franchise. August is also a great opening for the film. There’s no competition in the weeks afterwards, so it can really clean up. While people will go in with their arms folded, every fan is going to see it that opening weekend. If word of mouth is good, the sky is the limit for my favorite reptiles.

What It Has Going For It: Everyone loves Ninja Turtles, and will till the end of time.

What It Has Going Against It: Horrible buzz since the beginning.

Domestic Take: $169 Million

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7. Maleficent (May 30th): If this works, you are going to see a lot more live action Disney character adaptations. Personally, I felt the last trailer looked like crap, with Angelina Jolie hamming it up to the point of no return. At the end of the day though, Maleficent is an iconic character, and this has an Alice in Wonderland visual type feel. Love or hate it, that film made a crap load of cash. The best comparison we can make with Maleficent though is 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, which made over $155 million, and Maleficent is a more well known character, and doesn’t have Kristen Stewart. Unless this film is horrible beyond belief, it’s a bona fide blockbuster.

What It Has Going For It: Maleficent is a big name in Disney lore.

What It Has Going Against It: It could be total crap.

Domestic Take: $171 Million

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6. Godzilla (May 16th) The exact opposite of Ninja Turtles, Godzilla has had nothing but positive buzz. When I first read this movie was happening, and that it was opening right in the middle of the summer fray, I was all set to slot it into my “Bomb of the Year” award. It’s amazing what great trailers can do, and I do mean great. This looks like the Godzilla film we’ve been waiting our whole lives for. Godzilla will be much like 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes – a franchise that was seemingly dead, but great word of mouth willed it back into relevance.

What It Has Going For It: Great cast, trailers look incredible.

What It Has Going Against It: Call me crazy, but people still might not be over the Matthew Broderick version that was released sixteen years ago. I’m still in recovery.

Domestic Take: $179 Million

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5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11th): Speaking of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, here’s the sequel. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is going to do very well, but I don’t think it’s the absolute mega-hit everyone thinks it’s going to be. While we all loved that first one, I don’t think its had a lot of staying power. For me personally, I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes when it first came out, but I’ve slowly been forgetting about it the last couple years. This film is going to have to be something really special to make the serious cash, which it certainly could be judging by that first teaser trailer. But if Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is merely “good,” it will do fine, but not crack $200 Million.

What It Has Going For It: Acclaimed original film. People love them some Caesar.

What It Has Going Against It: This could have benefited from a two year turn around as opposed to three.

Domestic Take: $186 Million

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4. X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23rd): There’s no question this is my most anticipated film of the summer, and by a landslide. Holy crap, that last trailer. Are you kidding me?!? Predicting the X-Men movies have always been an Achilles’ heel for me – I’m too emotional, because I feel they are some of the better superhero movies out there. But there’s no denying this franchise has been slipping big time. X-Men: First Class in 2011 only brought in just over $140 Million, and last year’s The Wolverine surprisingly did worse at around $130 Million, despite both being damn good movies. At the end of the day though, the concept and cast of this film is just too massive to ignore. If this movie reaches its potential in quality, there’s no doubt it could be the box office champion of 2014. We do have to address the elephant in the room though, director Bryan Singer. For those who don’t know, there’s a civil suit against the director claiming he sexually assaulted a minor back in the late nineties. I’m not here to offer my take on this news, but as far as the effect it will have on the movie, it’s certainly going to be brought up closer to the film’s release.

What It Has Going For It: It clearly looks like the best film of the summer.

What It Has Going Against It: The recent box office of the franchise, and the Bryan Singer controversy.

Domestic Take: $220 Million

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3. How to Train your Dragon 2 (June 13th): I’m going to make this short and sweet: It’s the only significant kid’s film getting released this summer. It will clean up.

What It Has Going For It: The entire kid market.

What It Has Going Against It: Four year layoff.

Domestic Take: $255 Million

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2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2nd): Not only is it Spider-Man, but here’s what the last two May Summer opening weekends did – just over $174 Million (Iron Man 3) last year, and over $207 Million (The Avengers) the year before that. Yeah. This is why there’s such a fervor right now over that 2016 May date between the Batman Vs. Superman movie, and Captain America 3. That first weekend in May is the biggest box office weekend in the calendar year. Everyone knows it’s the official kick-off to Summer, and we’re all excited. As far as Spider-Man goes though, while people weren’t completely enamored with the 2012 reboot, its box office wasn’t too shabby. This sequel should do better for a couple reasons – first off, it looks more superhero friendly, and secondly, this thing has been marketed like no other movie I’ve ever seen. You cannot leave the house without seeing an ad for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You have no choice but to see this.

What It Has Going For It: It’s Spider-Man.

What It Has Going Against It: “Meh” reaction to the first one.

Domestic Take: $285 Million

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1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27th): *Sigh* If I have to think about this objectively, it’s the only choice. There’s no avoiding it. There’s no spin I can take. It’s Transformers, and it’s going to do very well. Now I want everyone to brace themselves, because I’m about to shock the world: I actually have a teeny, tiny, miniscule shred of hope for this film. Why you ask? No Shia LaBeouf, we get Mark Wahlberg instead. That’s like going from Matt Leinart to Phillip Rivers. He’s not the most amazing QB out there, but very solid. I actually stared at this cast for a long time, trying to convince myself this could be decent. I don’t see any John Turturros, Anthony Andersons, or Ken Jeongs this time around, so the humor might actually be scaled back. I want to be very clear about this – when I say hope, I mean the smallest hope imaginable. After all, it is Michael Bay.

What It Has Going For It: Transformers.

What It Has Going Against It: Maybe, just maybe, people will wake up and realize – “Wait a minute, these movies blow bags.”

Domestic Take: $350 Million

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So there’s my top ten box office predictions. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

The “Please, For the Love of God, Leave Me Alone!” Award

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Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1st): I can’t stand hearing about how great the Marvel Cinematic Universe is anymore. I’m literally at the breaking point. Please, just leave me alone. Great, they created a cohesive film universe. Good. I commend them. It’s a great achievement. I enjoyed the last Captain America film. But please, can we all just calm down a little bit, for crying out bran muffins! Everyone is already anointing Guardians of the Galaxy as the gutsy, clever little movie that could, and just the fact that it got made is an achievement in itself. Can we see the movie first, please? I’m not going to pat Marvel on the back just for taking a creative risk, because honestly, that trailer looked absolutely atrocious, and tried way too hard to be funny. Wow, they played “Hooked On a Feeling” in a superhero movie trailer. Whoop-dee-doo. I’ve betted against Marvel in the past, and have looked stupid, so I’m not going to do that here. I have no clue how this movie is going to perform. All I’m saying is can we take the Marvel blinders off for just a minute, and evaluate the film when it comes out, instead of pre-determining how great it is just because it’s Marvel doing something ballsy. That’s all I’m asking.

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The Movie That Haunts My Dreams Award:

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Tammy (July 2nd): Okay, let me start with this – I like Melissa McCarthy. I think she’s funny. But when I saw this trailer, I was in a corner cowering like a scared little kid who’s afraid there’s a monster under his bed. Please, America. Please. Don’t let this be a hit. Please. I’m begging you. Give all the money you want to Transformers. But, please. Not this. No.

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The Surprise Hit of the Summer Could Be…

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The Giver (August 15th): It’s based on a popular novel, and has a pretty stellar cast. When Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep are in a movie, there’s at least some potential built in. While it’s not something that’s typical summer fare, the trailer looks pretty trippy, and a mid August release certainly helps. This could definitely be a surprise top ten contender.

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The Awful Marketing Award:

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Edge of Tomorrow (June 6th): This came close to being my “Bomb of the Summer” pick. I’m a big Tom Cruise fan, and think he’s carried a lot of mediocre material throughout the years, and Emily Blunt is also very talented. This trailer looks bland as hell though. Is anybody excited for this? The trailer does a horrible job of explaining what this is about. So, he goes back in time everyday? Huh. I suppose there’s a chance it could be decent, but this is a classic example of a big budget non-franchise movie that will get gobbled up in the summer. This should have been released in March.

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The “Battleship” Memorial Flop of the Summer Award:

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Jupiter Ascending (July 18th): The Wachowski’s are similar in many ways to M. Night Shyamalan. Both parties have been living off one legendary movie for fifteen years, yet keep getting huge budgets and creative freedom. The Matrix came out fifteen years ago. Fifteen years ago! Here’s what the Wachowski’s have done since then: The Matrix sequels, Speed Racer, and Cloud Atlas. How in the world did they get another big budget convoluted sci-fi movie plopped down in the middle of the summer? Yeah, it has Channing Tatum, but how did White House Down work out for everyone? This makes no sense. The trailers haven’t done this movie any favors either. Every time I watch it with an audience, it gets laughed at. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here, but there are certain elements in the trailer where I get a Battlefield Earth vibe. Yeah, I went there. The easiest prediction I’ve ever had to make on Pop-Break was picking The Lone Ranger to be the flop of the summer last year. While not as much of a lock as that film was, I’m pretty confident I won’t be wrong on this one either. Jupiter Ascending – more like “Jupiter Descending.” And just like George Costanza, I’ll leave on a high note.

Related Articles:

2013 Summer Movie Preview (Daniel Cohen)

2012 Summer Movie Preview (Daniel Cohen)

2011 Summer Movie Preview (Daniel Cohen)

Summer Movie Preview 2010 (Bill Bodkin)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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