The Top 10 Summer Box Office Predictions (2017)
After what happened last year, I’m going into this summer with arms folded and eyes rolling. I hate to come out of the gate a Debbie Downer, but the summer of 2016 left me a broken man. I can honestly say there’s only two movies over the next four months I’m absolutely 100% gung-ho eager to see, and even one of those I’m skittish on.
When I look at this summer’s line-up and watch all these trailers, I see the typical laundry list of garbage: Transformers. Pirates of the Caribbean. The Mummy. Alien: Covenant. Cars 3. King Arthur: Legend of the I Don’t Care. Generic. Safe. Bland. Desperate to remain/and or start a franchise. These movies will blow bags.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few potential gems out there. Movies like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets or The Dark Tower could definitely be stinkers, but at least they intrigue me. Then we have the “We’ll See” category, which includes Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes. We’ll see.
There’s also the barrage of comedies and horror. Some will hit. Some will miss. I’m sure we’ll get a random Rated-R raunch-fest we don’t see coming like Snatched or Rough Night crack the top ten.
That’s what we’re here to talk about. The box office. That’s what summer is all about, baby! We’ll dabble here and there on the quality, but as we do every year, how will this summer fare box office wise? The last two summers were fairly similar, but the movies at the top in 2016 definitely had a down tick. The #10 film last year (The Legend of Tarzan) made just over $126 Million. We shouldn’t see anything come in at that low a number this summer. There will definitely be more consistency in the top ten.
We’ll also see a lot of similar trends. Last year, franchises like X-Men, Star Trek and Bourne took notable dives. This will happen again with movies like Transformers and Pirates of Caribbean. Those franchises have been dipping for a while. Neither will hit $200 Million. I firmly believe that. Internationally could be a different story, but let’s be selfish Americans today and only focus on the domestic takes, shall we?
Ladies and gentlemen…it’s my SEVENTH ANNUAL TOP TEN SUMMER BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS!
Honorable Mention: The Dark Tower
Release Date: August 4th
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Nikolaj Arcel (King’s Game)
We already mentioned it at the top, but this could definitely be one of your surprises. Some of you probably think this is a guaranteed hit. Let’s all chill the grille on that. As much as it could be a sleeper, it could just as easily bomb. While based on a popular book series by Stephen King, I feel like we’ve been hearing about this movie for 900 years. Rumor fatigue can always hurt a film. While Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba are good anchors, this will desperately need a high Rotten Tomato score. If everything breaks right, it has potential to make Mad Max: Fury Road level dollars ($154 Million+).
It also opens the first weekend in August, and for whatever reason, August is absolute dog poo this year. Holy matza balls. At the end of the day, this will perform admirably.
What It Has Going for It: Big stars, huge following
What It Has Going Against It: I’m not convinced the movie actually exists
Domestic Take: $140 Million
10. Cars 3
Release Date: June 16th
Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Nathan Fillion
Director: Brian Fee
Why, Pixar? Why? Isn’t Cars the one Pixar franchise we all agree stinks? Secondly, the last movie did not do well by Pixar standards ($191 Million+). It also came out six years ago. That means kids who liked the Cars movies growing up are too old to care now. And don’t give me the Toy Story gap argument. Cars isn’t Toy Story, okay! At the end of the day, it’s still an animated movie with talking cars. It will do fine, but what a complete and utter waste of Pixar’s time. Seriously.
What It Has Going for It: Animated cars go vroom
What it Has Going Against It: The Pixar loyalists may skip this one
Domestic Take: $150 Million
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales
Release Date: May 26th
Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Geoffrey Rush
Directors: Joachim Ronning/Espen Sandberg (Bandidas)
When I write this column every year, I always watch the trailers. This is the first time I could not finish a trailer. If there was ever an example of bleeding a character dry, it would be Jack Sparrow. This looks like another bloated, overly long excruciating bore-fest. I detest this franchise. Can someone please tell me what the appeal is? For crying out loud! The only reason this movie got made is because of the international gross of the previous film. Thanks a lot, planet Earth. Domestically, these movies continue to go down, down, down. This will be the same. While the box office should still be relatively solid, there’s potential for a Through the Looking Glass type bomb. I just hope it’s low enough to not get to a sixth film.
What It Has Going for It: At the end of the day, it’s still a proven franchise
What it Has Going Against It: The buzz is non-existent
Domestic Take: $159 Million
8. Transformers: The Last Knight
Release Date: June 23rd
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Michael Bay (Transformer Series, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi)
While the second Transformers movie is one of my least favorite films of the last ten years, I’m at peace with this franchise. It stinks. Don’t get me wrong. I just don’t care anymore to get worked up about it. It is what it is. The previous movie also wasn’t that bad. There’s even a record of me giving it a positive review. That’s embarrassing. At the end of the day, this will take another significant domestic dive, but it’s still making money.
Let’s move on.
What It Has Going for It: Ten years later, it still has juice
What it Has Going Against It: Everyone seems to be dreading this
Domestic Take: $167 Million
Release Date: July 21st
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles
Director: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy)
With all the negativity and skepticism I have this summer, this can be the movie that makes it all worthwhile. Not only is this guaranteed to be the best film of the summer, it has potential to be the best film of 2017. This is probably one of my bolder calls, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking it finishes ahead of Pirates and Transformers, but there’s real evidence to back it up. When Christopher Nolan releases a movie, we all listen. Let’s look at Interstellar. That film was at the height of the “I’m sick of Christopher Nolan” movement. Despite all that, Interstellar, a film not tied to any franchise or property, still made over $188 Million dollars. That’s damn impressive.
Now that we’ve gotten past the “let’s knock Nolan down” stage, everyone seems pumped for his World War II epic. Dunkirk looks spectacular. I’m banking on the Nolan brand, and big word of mouth to carry this to an unlikely summer hit.
What It Has Going for It: The aura of Nolan
What it Has Going Against It: It’s a World War II drama dropped right in the middle of franchise season
Domestic Take: $175 Million
6. War for the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: July 14th
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
Director: Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield)
These are solid movies, but the praise they get on initial release is absurd. The Empire Strikes Back comparisons to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was hyperbole at maximum capacity. Please. This series banks on one great character, and that’s it. There’s a reason they introduce new human characters in every movie. They have to try again. This will do more of the same, making somewhere in between the previous two films.
What It Has Going for It: Andy Serkis, and they get great word of mouth out of the gate
What it Has Going Against It: When was the last time Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was brought up in a conversation?
Domestic Take: $178 Million
5. The Emoji Movie
Release Date: July 28th
Cast: T.J. Miller, Anna Faris, James Corden, Patrick Stewart, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Rob Riggle, Jennifer Coolidge
Director: Tony Leondis
No. It’s not a typo. You heard right. The damn Emoji Movie. I’m staking my claim on this right now. This will be your big shocker of the summer. You’re all making fun of this movie, but you know what other animated movie you all made fun of? The LEGO Movie. How did that work out? First of all, animated kid movies fare well in the summer, and there’s sure to be another big hit aside from the obvious one we’ll talk about later. You know what else this movie has going for it? It’s going to be good.
When I first read there was going to be an Emoji movie, I rolled my eyes too. Then I saw the trailer. That was a clever trailer. I legitimately laughed at the Steven Wright voice over. To me, this looks like a JV Inside Out. I mean that as a compliment. This appears to be a case of two screenwriters getting saddled with writing the Emoji movie, but trying their damndest to do something special with it.
Maybe this turns out to be like my Angry Birds call from last year (yikes), but I’m banking on a BIG word of my mouth carrying the day.
You heard it here first. The Emoji Movie. Top five.
What It Has Going for It: It could actually be good and get LEGO Movie level word of mouth
What it Has Going Against It: It’s The Emoji Movie
Domestic Take: $230 Million
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Release Date: July 7th
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Donald Glover
Director: Jon Watts (Cop Car)
This is the most puzzling movie to predict this summer. Spider-Man is obviously a big name, but his last solo outing, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which nobody on the planet likes, paled in comparison to the other movies in terms of box office. It was a struggle to get over $200 Million. It also felt like they spent $500 Billion on marketing. There may have been Sony Executives whispering “Go see Amazing Spider-Man 2” in your sleep. How did they get into my apartment?
Well, that Spider-Man is dead. We have our third Spider-Man in the span of ten years. That right there is a hindrance. The trailers are also getting an “eh” reaction. The biggest strength is obviously the MCU factor. He stole the show in Captain America: Civil War. Despite that, I still feel like Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has to suffer for the sins of the previous regime. Sony doesn’t even trust this Spider-Man yet. Iron Man is being pushed hard, even more so than I originally thought.
This is a very convoluted case, but at the end of the day, it should make somewhere between the last two Andrew Garfield movies. I wouldn’t be surprised if it finished significantly higher, or lower.
Bottom-line: If the movie is good, it will do well. If it gets “eh” word of mouth, they have a big problem.
What It Has Going for It: It’s the MCU Spider-Man
What it Has Going Against It: Meh trailer reactions, and a third live action Spider-Man so quickly is a lot to ask from your audience
Domestic Take: $240 Million
3. Despicable Me 3
Release Date: June 30th
Directors: Pierre Coffin/Kyle Balda/Eric Guillon
This is a money in the bank franchise. What else is there to say? There should be a natural down tick just based on the fact that kids who liked the first Despicable Me are getting older, but it will still cross $300 Million without breaking a sweat.
What It Has Going for It: Money in the bank franchise
What it Has Going Against It: The audience is getting older
Domestic Take: $319 Million
2. Wonder Woman
Release Date: June 2nd
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston
Director: Patty Jenkins (Monster)
I feel like anytime you dig into a DC movie, we have to talk about the entire history of civilization and what the meaning of life is. I’m going to try and be short and sweet. Despite all the crap and backlash these films get, both BvS and Suicide Squad made well over $300 Million. Call me crazy, but Wonder Woman is going to be the first DCEU film to get a positive Rotten Tomato score, therefore, what reason do I have to believe that it won’t sail well past $300 Million like its predecessors? Everyone loves the trailers, and unlike BvS, people are rooting for Wonder Woman. They really, really, really want to love this.
Having said all that, it’s still DC.
What It Has Going for It: Everyone is trying to will this into being a great movie
What it Has Going Against It: The DC baggage
Domestic Take: $340 Million
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Release Date: May 5th
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone.
Director: James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Super)
This is a pretty easy call. It’s the first movie out of the gate, and it will remain top dog all summer long. The first movie had universal praise. Everyone is jacked up. It’s now one of Marvel’s biggest franchises. Even for someone like me who’s a known MCU hater, I’m looking forward to it. Baby Groot was even kind of funny in the last trailer. The marketing seems very much downplayed when compared to the first film, but it doesn’t matter.
Unless Wonder Woman is incredible beyond belief, this is your easy pick for summer box office champion.
What It Has Going for It: Seriously?
What it Has Going Against It: There’s a chance your car could break down on the way to the theater
Domestic Take: $380 Million
Now that we’ve gotten the top ten money makers out of the way…
Potential Sleepers to Keep an Eye On
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21st): This definitely has a Jupiter Ascending vibe, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked if it turned out to be a good movie. With Luc Besson, it’s always a crap shot. You COULD get something great. If this gets great reviews out of the gate, Valerian could be a big sleeper. It could also flop harder than a Washington Capitals playoff run.
Atomic Blonde (July 28th): Everyone and their mother is referring to this as the female John Wick. Funny you should mention that, because the director (David Leitch) actually has an uncredited directing nod on John Wick. This guy is also your Deadpool 2 director. I don’t think this is going to make monster bucks, but it should perform well over its budget.
Detroit (August 4th): Detroit could be this year’s Straight Outta Compton. Kathryn Bigelow is a big name, and having Finn (John Boyega) anchor your drama is never a bad idea. Keep an eye on this one.
The Comedies that Could Break Through the Top Ten
Baywatch (May 25th): This one isn’t really a surprise. With Dwayne Johnson at the helm, it’s sure to do well. I would expect Central Intelligence type money ($127 Million+), which probably isn’t good enough for the top ten this year.
Rough Night (June 16th): Raunchy female driven R comedy with Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell. It could definitely be this year’s Bad Moms.
The House (June 30th): You can never count out Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (August 18th): I know Ryan Reynolds doesn’t have a storied box office resume outside of Deadpool, but pairing him with Samuel L. Jackson could be pretty funny. This trailer hits on all the right notes, and opening right in the middle of a dead period in August could make all the difference. It could make the money The Nice Guys was supposed to make.
Snatched (May 12th): It’s Amy Schumer. I’ll have more to say about this one later.
The List of Random Horror Movies That will do Well:
I don’t proclaim to be a horror guy, but I acknowledge all these movies will do exceptionally well over their peanut budgets. I’m simply going to acknowledge them here:
It Comes at Night. Amityville: The Awakening. Wish Upon. Annabelle: Creation. Polaroid
There. Now leave me alone.
The Movie Everyone Really Wants to do Well, but Won’t
Release Date: June 28th
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx
Edgar Wright. Edgar Wright. Edgar Wright. Edgar Wright. Yeah. Got it. Relax. I like Edgar Wright okay, but let’s all calm down. There will be many who try to convince themselves this will be a big surprise hit. Let me save you the suspense – it won’t. The highest grossing Edgar Wright film to date is Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World ($31 Million+), which was a massive bomb (Production budget $60 Million, via Box Office Mojo). This movie looks like a PG-Rated Drive. I’m sure it will please the niche Edgar Wright fan base.
Enjoy it, but don’t trick yourselves into thinking this will be a big summer hit.
The “I Don’t Care” Award
Release Date: May 19th
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir
Director: Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator, Alien)
I know I put this on my Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies list at the beginning of the year, but after that second trailer, I don’t care anymore. This looks like the most going through the motions bland garbage of all time. Ridley Scott’s best days are LONG gone. The Martian was only good because of a fantastic Matt Damon performance. It’s time to put the Alien franchise out to pasture. Let me guess what happens – bland characters find some big discovery, but it all goes to hell and aliens attack them. The end.
Remember when this was a ground-breaking series? That was THIRTY YEARS AGO! Now we have a scene where an alien hangs on the back of a ship as Danny McBride cries out “Holy sh-!”
I’d love nothing more than to be wrong about this one. Trust me.
The Worst Movie of the Summer Will Be
Release Date: May 12th
Director: Jonathan Levine (The Night Before, Warm Bodies, 50/50)
Going back to my 2017 Most Anticipated Movies list, I pegged this as my call for Worst Movie of the year, so I have to stick with it. I had a revelation about Amy Schumer. She works good in doses, but not as a lead. This movie looks excruciating. I have nothing else to say. For someone who doesn’t like Trainwreck, this looks like your typical Amy Schumer comedy on steroids.
It’s too much. It’s just too much.
THE BATTLESHIP MEMORIAL FLOP OF THE SUMMER AWARD
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Release Date: May 12th
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, Eric Bana
Director: Guy Ritchie (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Sherlock Holmes)
There were two contenders this year – this, and The Mummy. How can it not be this? Who could have possibly thought this was a good idea? King Arthur? Oh, for the love of Sir Gawain, nobody cares. I remember when Warner Brothers did their Comic-Con panel last year, and all their films got great twitter buzz, except this one, where everyone joked, “Time for a bathroom break.” This looks dreadful. Absolutely dreadful.
The fact that Guy Ritchie is at the helm makes it worse. He’s going to try and overcompensate a boring period piece by putting his “unique” style all over it. This is like trying to spray expensive perfume on a skunk – it’s not going to work.
Not only that, but it opens one week after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Are you serious? A ONE WEEK CUSHION!?!
Well, that leaves me with one thing left to say…