Welcome to my eighth annual (Holy Moses) Summer Box Office Predictions. Truth be told, this is one of my favorite columns I write every year. After my predictions last year though, it’s fair to say I deserve a time out. Allow me to Wayne’s World us into last year’s predictions for just a moment…
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? 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.
I’m banking on a BIG word of mouth carrying the day.
You heard it here first. The Emoji Movie. Top five.
Yup. I’ve been writing about film for over eight years now, and this is probably the worst prediction I’ve ever made. It happened. I’m owning it. Please allow me to move on with my life.
Aside from The Emoji Movie, I was actually right about some films. I said Dunkirk would be a big hit in the top ten. Check. I said Transformers and Pirates would see significant down ticks. Check. I said King Arthur would be the flop of the summer. Double check.
Production Budget: $175 Million (via Box Office Mojo)
Worldwide Gross: Under $150 Million
There’s no question the big story last year was a putrid box office relative to past summers. While Girls Trip was a big hit at just over $115 million domestic, that number cracking the top ten for the summer wasn’t great.
When I look at this summer, I’d be shocked if the box office doesn’t dramatically improve. There are big franchises that might underwhelm, but they are starting from such a strong place that even disappointing numbers will still be high. We’ll get to two of those movies in particular later on.
When it comes to quality this summer, I’m mildly optimistic. Yes, there’s stuff I’m dreading. I’m not sure how many times I can express my fear for Solo: A Star Wars Story. I’m exhausted. Aside from a couple other groaners, I’m very much looking forward to what this summer brings to the table:
Deadpool 2. Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Sicario: Day of the Soldado.
Hell, I’m even excited about Avengers: Infinity War (did I just say that?).
Enough is enough. Let’s stop the tomfoolery and get down to business. It’s my annual rite of passage. The summer is here (one week early). Let’s do so damn predicting!
It’s my Top Ten Summer Box Office Predictions!
Honorable Mention: Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Release Date: July 13th
Cast: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Mel Brooks, Kevin James, David Spade
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky (Hotel Transylvania 2, Hotel Transylvania)
How fitting we kick off the summer preview with an animated kids movie. You can all groan at the Adam Sandler-ness of it all, but these movies actually aren’t that bad. Yes. I’ve seen both Hotel Transylvania movies. At least I think I have? Regardless, my memory banks remember these being…fine.
The bottom-line is that this will be the only kids game in town at the time of its release. The Incredibles 2 hoopla will be over a month old. It won’t break the bank, but it will be in the ball park of the other two films, and that’s good enough.
Adam Sandler strikes again.
What It Has Going for It: It’s a kid’s movie separated from the pack.
What It Has Going Against It: The other two did well, but weren’t blockbusters.
Domestic Take: $145 Million
10. Ocean’s 8
Release Date: June 8th
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, James Corden
Director: Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville)
This is going to be one of those Rotten Tomato movies. If this gets a high score and good word of mouth, I could easily see it cracking the top five of the entire summer. Based on the trailer, it looks good, not great. The cast they’ve assembled certainly helps.
While the first Ocean’s movie cleaned up back in 2001, Ocean’s Thirteen didn’t exactly light up the box office at just over $117 Million domestic in 2007, which means my prediction here is pretty optimistic. Having said that, while technically an Ocean’s movie, many are going to take this as a completely different entity. We are far removed from the world of Danny Ocean, and the strength of this cast almost establishes this as its own franchise.
If this movie does well, it will be based on its own merits and not because it’s tied to an existing franchise. If the movie has a low Rotten Tomato score it won’t flop, but it will come and go fairly quickly.
What It Has Going for It: A ridiculously likable cast.
What It Has Going Against It: The movie might just be “okay.”
Domestic Take: $155 Million
9. The Happytime Murders
Release Date: August 17th
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Melissa McCarthy, Joel McHale, Maya Rudolph, Bill Barretta
Director: Brian Henson (Muppet Treasure Island, The Muppet Christmas Carol)
I don’t think I’ve ever put more faith in pure concept than I have with this movie. I’ve built this film up based on a plot description and a few production stills. I’ve talked about it ad nauseam in both our 2018 preview podcast, and summer preview podcast. There’s not even a trailer yet. For all I know, the damn movie could be delayed. By definition, this has to be my bold call of the summer.
My prediction for this getting into the top ten is two-fold: 1. Wishful thinking. 2. I don’t see anything else on the docket screaming to get into the top ten.
I guess this could be my Emoji Movie call of the summer. Who knows? It could be horrendous. I’ve certainly staked my claim on this film. I haven’t heard anyone talk about this movie like I have. Again, the potential is through the roof. It’s a cool as hell concept: Who Framed Roger Rabbit with puppets – that’s tantalizing.
Whenever that first trailer hits I’m going to be nervous as hell. This one could really blow up in my face, but at the end of the day, I’m counting on the movie being good. (Editor’s Note: This positive news just came out of a CinemaCon.)
What It Has Going for It: The potential is through the roof.
What It Has Going Against It: It could absolutely blow bags.
Domestic Take: $157 Million
8. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Release Date: July 27th
Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Monaghan, Angela Bassett, Ving Rhames
Director: Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Jack Reacher)
Now we’re officially moving into the safe bets. This franchise is like a mini Fast and Furious. In terms of box office, it’s not close to hitting those highs, but you can always rely on it to make good money. Unlike the Fast and Furious movies though, I actually like these films.
There’s not a whole lot to say here. It’s going to be another great Mission: Impossible romp.
We accept this mission.
What It Has Going for It: It’s separated from the pack on the calendar, and we know what we’re getting.
What It Has Going Against It: With a sixth entry, there’s always risk for fatigue.
Domestic Take: $199 Million
7. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Release Date: July 6th
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Walton Goggins, Judy Greer, Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Peyton Reed (Ant-Man, Yes Man, The Break-Up)
I could just say “MCU” and call it a day, but let’s dig a little deeper. This is a guaranteed top ten finisher. While Ant-Man was one of the weaker box office hits relative too other MCU movies, it still did very well. This will no doubt crush the original’s take, which clocked in at just over $180 million domestic.
This movie may not be great, but the first trailer was enough to show everyone it’s typical MCU fare. People will eat it up. Even though some were annoyed by the whole Edgar Wright fiasco on the first film, this movie has aged well. Paul Rudd’s portrayal as Scott Lang has become a fan favorite, especially after his show stopping performance in Captain America: Civil War.
This won’t break the bank. Even Thor: Ragnarok and all it’s crazy good buzz didn’t reach the insane highs that both Guardians of the Galaxy movies did. There will be plenty of MCU momentum after Infinity War though propelling Ant-Man and the Wasp to another MCU hit.
At this point the studio is on auto-pilot when it comes to cranking out profits.
What It Has Going for It: It’s the MCU.
What It Has Going Against It: It’s not one of Marvel’s biggest hits.
Domestic Take: $250 Million
6. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Release Date: June 22nd
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, James Cromwell, Geraldine Chaplin, Toby Jones
Director: J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, A Monster Calls)
Jurassic World came out in 2015, and I’m just now getting over my shock at how much money that damn movie made. Over $208 million opening weekend?! How the hell did that happen? I understand Jurassic Park was a big franchise once upon a time, but how do you go from under $200 million domestic for Jurassic Park 3 all the way to over $650 million?! Huh?
This is one of two movies I alluded to that will see a significant decrease in box office. There will be a drop off, but the overall numbers will still be good. Unless this is the greatest movie ever made with a cameo by my favorite dinosaur, Earl Sinclair, there’s no way in hell this duplicates what Jurassic World did.
With Jurassic World, fans were desperate for a Jurassic Park movie that didn’t suck. Jurassic World didn’t suck, so it was able to ride off low expectations. The buzz for this sequel is decent, but nothing special.
Life may find a way, but no way it’s finding that much dough again.
What It Has Going for It: It’s coming off a monster hit.
What It Has Going Against It: People got their Jurassic Park fill and might be over it.
Domestic Take: $299.9 Million
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Release Date: May 25th
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Director: Ron Howard (Inferno, Rush, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13)
I feel like Peter Gibbons staring at the computer screen looking completely miserable and sad at the beginning of Office Space. Defeated. Exhausted. That’s me when thinking about this movie. I’m tired. I’m tired of discussing why I’m dreading this film. Again, we don’t need a Han Solo origin movie. It looks like nothing but fan service. JV Star Wars. Blah. Blah. Blah. Leave me alone. Please.
Let’s actually talk about the box office. Much like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the movie will by no means be a flop. To expect The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi numbers would be unfair. The real benchmark here is Rogue One. Solo should crack $300 million domestic, but relative to Rogue One’s $530+ million take, that could be a red flag for the studio on future Star Wars spin-off movies.
I guess you could say this is a bold call. Not only does this hold the name “Star Wars,” but it’s a movie about arguably the most popular character in the whole franchise, yet the buzz feels weak right now. It’s almost like everyone is bracing for a disaster. While The Last Jedi had a divisive reaction, it still sparked discussion. This will spark nothing.
It feels like Disney is sacrificing this movie. Why isn’t it being moved? Opening one week after Deadpool 2 seems like a bad idea. Not only that, Deadpool 2 moved up to this date knowing full well Solo was still there. They clearly aren’t worried.
I’m going to have more to say about Solo: A Star Wars Movie later on, but for now, let’s call it a top five finisher for the summer and leave it at that.
What It Has Going for It: It’s Star Wars.
What It Has Going Against It: This could be a real blunder.
Domestic Take: $320 Million
4. Christopher Robin
Release Date: August 3rd
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Chris O’Dowd, Toby Jones, Brad Garrett
Director: Marc Forster (World War Z, Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland)
It’s a live action Disney adaptation. Those tend to do well. Cinderella. Jungle Book. Beauty and the Beast. Are you going to bet against it? I’m sure as hell not. While Winnie-the-Pooh doesn’t have the same oomph as those other properties, it’s still going to demolish the box office.
It’s also in that first weekend of August sweet spot, which has certainly been blessed of late: Suicide Squad. Guardians of the Galaxy. Fantastic Four. Okay, maybe not Fantastic Four, but I’m fairly confident in saying this movie won’t have a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes.
All that’s left is a home run trailer to follow up that emotional teaser, and we’re good to go for a lock top five summer finisher.
What It Has Going for It: Beloved Characters. No competition. Disney.
What It Has Going Against It: Winnie-the-Pooh isn’t a guaranteed money maker.
Domestic Take: $345 Million
3. The Incredibles 2
Release Date: June 15th
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk
Director: Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Iron Giant)
Out of all the Pixar movies in existence, this sequel has been clamored for the most. People love The Incredibles and have been dreaming about a sequel for years. This is the epitome of “careful what you wish for.”
I’ve been saying this sequel is going to be massively disappointing for a while, and that last trailer confirmed all my feelings. Having said that, I’m on an island that is buried beneath a crap load of other islands. Nobody is listening to me.
Whether it’s disappointing or not, it doesn’t matter. The Incredibles 2 is going to destroy the box office. With that said, it won’t get Finding Dory numbers (nearly $500 million domestic). While everyone is going to see this film, the disappointment factor (which I strongly believe will happen) could hinder repeat viewings. If I’m wrong and everybody loves this film, it could certainly beat my #2 pick, but I just don’t see it.
Monsters Inc. was almost just as beloved, yet Monsters University failed to crack $300 million domestic. Just saying.
What It Has Going for It: Seriously?
What It Has Going Against It: There’s a real chance this movie stinks.
Domestic Take: $370 Million
2. Deadpool 2
Release Date: May 18th
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Brianna Hildebrand, Terry Crews
Director: David Leitch (Atomic Blonde)
The first Deadpool took everyone by surprise. This won’t. Deadpool is now an established character. While the first film had a shocking opening weekend, everyone who saw it the following week based on word of mouth will now see it that first weekend. This bad boy is going to be an absolute beast.
The only way this movie gets derailed is if it underwhelms coming off that first masterpiece, but based on those trailers, I just don’t see it. It’s the same old Deadpool with a bunch of cool new characters added in.
All we need is that early twitter buzz to confirm it’s awesome, and I could very well be under predicting this movie.
What It Has Going for It: Everything.
What It Has Going Against It: Solo opening one week later could be enough to ruin its full box office potential.
Domestic Take: $430 Million
1. The Meg
Release Date: August 10th
Cast: Jason Statham, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis, Li Bingbing
Director: Jon Turteltaub (Last Vegas, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Cool Runnings)
I know, I know. I went with the obvious one. At the end of the day, I’d be a moron not to pick this. Everybody loves sharks. Add in Jason Statham fighting one, and you have what will be the biggest movie of the summer. Hands down.
Not only that, but this movie is rumored to be the culmination of every shark movie ever made. Jaws. Sharknado. Deep Blue Sea. Free Willy. This is it. It’s the shark shared universe we’ve been waiting for.
What It Has Going for It: It could be the greatest movie ever made.
What It Has Going Against It: There may not be enough theaters to accommodate demand.
Domestic Take: $700 Million
That’s it for predictions. I didn’t miss anything, right?
While the box office predictions may be over, as a great villain once said…
The Horror Movie Line Up:
As I say every year, I’m not a horror guy. Once again, I recognize all these movies will do well relative to their meager budgets, but none of them will crack the top ten.
Go ahead and play this classic Simpsons song as you run down the list of horror movies…
Release Date: May 4th
Cast: David Tennant, Kerry Condon
Director: Dean Devlin (Geostorm)
Release Date: June 8th
Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd
Director: Ari Aster
The First Purge
Release Date: July 4th
Cast: Marisa Tomei, Y’Lan Noel, Melonie Diaz
Director: Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands)
Release Date: August 24th
Cast: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso
Director: Sylvain White (The Losers, Stomp the Yard)
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
Release Date: July 20th
Cast: Lily James, Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia, Cher
Director: Ol Parker (Now is Good, Imagine Me & You)
The “Whatever” Award
The Equalizer 2
Release Date: July 20th
Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
Director: Antoine Fuqua (The Magnificent Seven, The Equalizer, Training Day)
I realize it’s Denzel Washington kicking ass. What else do you need? While many enjoyed the first film, I barely remember it. This very much feels like a franchise akin to Taken, yet while the first Equalizer did well, it wasn’t nearly the success that first Taken film was. We are only talking about just over $100 million domestic here.
Let’s chill the grill.
This should be a September release date all the way. July seems a little ambitious. And only one week before Mission: Impossible? That’s a head scratcher.
The Comedies That Could Be Good
Life of the Party (May 11th): Ever since Spy, I’ve been a champion of Melissa McCarthy. She can take a mediocre script like The Boss and make it funny. The concept here is pretty simple: Melissa McCarthy goes to college. This has a Rodney Dangerfield/Back to School vibe all over it. While the trailer didn’t blow me away, the plot seems like a lay-up for vintage Melissa McCarthy hijinks.
Tag (June 15th): Much like The Happytime Murders, I’m banking on pure concept. At least this one actually has a trailer. And it’s good. How can a thirty-year game of tag not be funny? Jeremy Renner looks especially hilarious. Hopefully this turns out to be Dodgeball, not Balls of Fury.
The Spy Who Dumped Me (August 3rd): This wasn’t exactly a stellar trailer, but the material has potential. Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon is a good pairing. While Mila Kunis has proven herself a box office draw, Kate McKinnon has not. As this is positioned in early August with very little competition, there’s definitely potential for a default Hitman’s Bodyguard level of success here.
The Comedies I’m Absolutely Dreading
Overboard (May 4th): Would someone get Anna Faris a good script. For crying out loud. This looks horrendous and appears to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to bank off the very popular original film from 1987. I give them credit for reversing the roles, but this one looks like a chore.
Show Dogs (May 18th): I said this on the podcast, and I’ll stand by it: this plot could be funny. If you really got a talented screenwriter/director to attack this, you could get some legit laughs. A dog detective going undercover as a show dog – that’s not bad. I guarantee this movie was pitched as Miss Congeniality with dogs. The Will Arnett casting shows a glimmer of hope, but the trailer is as dumb as you think it is.
That leads us to one more comedy…
The Worst Movie of the Summer Will Be
Release Date: June 1st
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Chris Pontius
Director: Tim Kirkby
That’s how many times someone gets hit, falls down, or crashes into something in the trailer. Twenty times. I counted nineteen when the trailer looked like it was about to end, but it didn’t disappoint. We got one more.
This is like if you took Meatballs and Wet Hot American Summer but made them fifty times dumber. Jackass isn’t for me, but I understand why people like it. This looks like a big ball of stupid. Pratfalls. Pratfalls. Pratfalls.
If America’s Funniest Home Videos made a movie, it would be this.
Heaven help us.
The Story of the Summer Will Be
The Disappointing Box Office of Solo: A Star Wars Story
As I said in the podcast, I’d like reiterate the following message: I want to love this movie. I want to be wrong. I hope Alden Ehrenreich is amazing.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument though that the movie is as forgettable as I think it’s going to be. If that’s the case, this summer storyline is probably wishful thinking on my part. The story of last summer was the underwhelming box office of 2017. While Solo will make a nice profit, everybody and their mother will be talking about how it pales in comparison to recent Star Wars films. This will get the following conversation started:
Are people tiring of Star Wars?
The answer is obviously no, but the fact this question will even be thrown out in the universe is enough to scare Disney. In my opinion, Disney is bracing for bad news with this film. There’s a reason you haven’t seen a lot of marketing. Much like DC wanted to get through Justice League, so does Disney with this film.
This is why you haven’t seen release dates for other spin-off movies. They are holding their breath. Again, assuming this movie isn’t good, I hope the following lesson is learned: No more prequel spin-offs.
Enough is enough.
THE BATTLESHIP MEMORIAL FLOP OF THE SUMMER AWARD
Release Date: July 13th
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Pablo Schreiber, Neve Campbell
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence, We’re the Millers, Dodgeball)
I’m completely ripping off our Editor-in-Chief, Bill Bodkin. In the summer preview podcast, he predicted Skyscraper. With Dwayne Johnson, I was skeptical. He made San Andreas a hit. San Andreas. After looking at the full spectrum of movies this summer and having time to reflect, I believe my fearless leader may be right.
I’m going with Skyscraper.
Yes, it’s Dwayne Johnson, but as we saw with Baywatch, he’s not indestructible. At the end of the day, this movie just looks awful. While I don’t believe it will be as bad as Action Point, it looks to be a close second.
First of all, it’s only one week after Ant-Man and the Wasp. While the following weekend isn’t terribly competitive, I still believe this will be bad news bears at the box office.
As I stated in the podcast, this is a tough summer to pick a flop. Even with movies like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Solo on track to disappoint, they will be far from flops. Out of all the movies on this list, Skyscraper simply has the best chance to up hold the “standards” of the Battleship Memorial Flop of the Summer Award.
Well, that about does it. I can’t think of any movie I left out. We laughed. We cried. We watched the trailer for Action Point.
We’re done here.