(This is a preview of what’s coming in Sunday’s Pocono Record. And some extra, including random, personal confessions on certain subjects. You’re welcome, of course.)
Box office figures have always fascinated me, I’m a total box office junkie. I look at the weekend figures every Sunday afternoon, check midnight figures on Friday and look up historical performance as an indicator of how a certain movie might perform.
So this column, my summer movie preview? It’s probably my favorite thing of the year to write because I get to predict the box office during Hollywood’s most important time — the summer.
And seeing as this is one of the biggest, most anticipated summers movie seasons of all time, this one was extra fun. Well, kinda. This summer is really top-heavy, but after the first five or six really big movies, what are you looking forward to? The comedies are a mixed bag, at best. There is barely any Oscar bait, as if any smart movie has decided to just abandon the prospect of releasing any time before October.
That means we’re getting set for three months of explosions, brutal dialogue, a bunch of emerging catchphrases, lots of skin-tight outfits and nothing resembling character development.
But hey, that’s what summer is for at the movie theater. Turn off your brain and enjoy.
(BTW, I’m sticking with domestic box office totals this year, perhaps for the last time. I don’t know enough about worldwide grosses to make this kinds of predictions, but I’m getting there.)
1. The Dark Knight Rises
Release date: July 20
Stars: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy and the returning Batman and Christopher Nolan Players
For sure: They can mail this in and it would make $300 million, but thankfully, they won’t. The final trailer debuts before Avengers. Which rocks. Watching Heinz Field get blown to smithereens is a nice bonus.
Still in question: Can it possibly be as good as Dark Knight, the gold standard of comic book movies? Doesn’t matter, really. But at least you can feel pretty confident they will try. In carrying with my Chris Nolan Batman tradition, I’ll probably see it once in the theater, say how much I was unimpressed, then watch it on Blu-ray when I get it for Christmas and watch it about 37 times before Valentine’s Day. I’m looking forward to that.
Domestic box office prediction: $450 million
2. The Avengers
Release date: May 4
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans … why am I even bothering? You already know who’s in this movie.
For sure: Ever since “X-Men” became a box office hit in 2000, Marvel comic book movies have been leading to the singular moment when this movie gets released. Maybe in some back alley “Avengers” can take on “Dark Knight Rises” for the title of most anticipated movie of the summer.
Still questionable: Can it beat the last “Harry Potter” for biggest opening weekend of all time? That’s pretty much all we’re playing for at this point. Confession #1: I’m still worried the cartoon is going to be better than the movie, even though the movie is getting incredible reviews.
Domestic box office prediction: $410 million
3. The Amazing Spider-Man
Release date: July 3
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
For sure: This isn’t your … brother’s? … Spider-Man. The Wall Crawler is getting a new cast and story. Say hello to Gwen Stacy as Peter Parker’s girlfriend and good-bye to Mary Jane. Every time I think Andrew Garfield is going to suck as Peter Parker, I think of two things: 1. That I thought Tobey Maguire would suck. 2. and this (naughty language alert, but I love this scene too much) …
Still questionable: It’s been only five years since the original Spider-Man trilogy ended. That’s a whole lot of fans who are being force-fed a whole new Spider-Man in a pretty quick time. I’ve always thought The Lizard is a pretty boring villain. Confession #2: I’d take Emma Stone in a heartbeat over Kirsten Dunst, but she looks better with natural red hair.
Domestic box office prediction: You probably won’t see competing Team Andrew or Team Tobey T-shirts, there doesn’t seem to be that much venom. Now let’s see if the quality is as good. $275 million.
Release date: June 22
Stars: Voices of Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson.
For sure: Pixar, baby. Pixar. That’s pretty much all you need to know, but the movie is about a young Scottish princess who makes a bad choice, then has to reverse it.
Still questionable: The first chinks in the Pixar armor showed last year with Cars 2. To throw out an unfamiliar story without an American voice is risky. Confession #3: I still can only think of Billy Connolly as Howard Hessman’s replacement on Head of the Class.
Domestic box office prediction: Do you want to bet against Pixar? Me neither. $225 million.
5. Bourne Legacy
Release date: Aug. 3
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
For sure: This isn’t a reboot, since some of the cast has stuck around for this sequel. It is the debut of Jeremy Renner in the franchise, taking over for Matt Damon, though Renner isn’t playing Jason Bourne. My guess? Renner tries to evade a bunch of spies who are trying to kill him while still trying to figure out his past. Am I right?
Still questionable: Did fans come out for Bourne or Damon? Renner and the Bourne people are playing this perfectly. Supporting roles in two huge action franchises (Mission: Impossible and The Avengers), letting the world get to know him, then taking over one of the most lucrative action franchises of the 2000s. Confession #4: My wife says my smile is exactly like Matt Damon’s, and I think she’s insane.
Domestic box office prediction: $200 million.
6. Ice Age: Continental Drift
Release date: July 13
Stars: Voices of Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo
For sure: Here’s something you probably don’t know, or at least don’t remember. The third Ice Age movie in 2009 made $887 million worldwide, the 23rd high-grossing movie of all time. All time. And each movie in the franchise has made more money than the last.
Still questionable: There are better places to release than sandwiched between Spider-Man and Batman. Doesn’t seem very logical, but it’s the only big animated movie through the remainder of the summer.
Domestic box office prediction: $180 million.
7. MIB 3
Release date: May 25
Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
For sure: Welcome back, Mr. Smith. We haven’t seen you in a summer movie since Hancock in 2008. Been a long time, right? But don’t take that as an invitation to make Bad Boys 3. Please. We’re begging you.
Still questionable: The troubled production that’s a sequel to a movie that came out 10 years ago suffered through on-the-spot rewrites and a hiatus. Confession #5: I’ve never watched more than two minutes of either of the first in the series.
Domestic box office prediction: It’s got too much going for it. $175 million.
Release date: June 8
Stars: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron
For sure: Probably the viral movie marketing campaign of the year, it’s not necessarily a prequel to 1979’s “Alien,” but it kind of is. Or it isn’t. Can we get someone to give us a straight answer on this? That’d be great.
Still questionable: The series has already been corrupted by “Alien vs. Predator” and its sequel, so this is probably a good time to start over. If they’re really starting over. C’mon, seriously, what the heck is going on with this?
Domestic box office prediction: $170 million.
Release date: May 18
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker
For sure: Just forget that it’s called “Battleship” and it’s supposed to be based on the board game. It isn’t. It’s about trying to ward off an alien invasion. Big guns, big booms, big aliens is usually a good formula for summer success. Confession #6: I’ve got a huge man crush on Kitsch. Wait, everyone already knows that.
Still questionable: This already rolled out in dozens of foreign countries and the reviews are not particularly good. This movie also has the potential to be the bomb of the summer.
Domestic box office prediction: $165 million.
10. Neighborhood Watch
Release Date: July 27
Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill
For sure: There’s got to be a comedy in here somewhere, right? Let’s call this the last ride of the Frat Pack, and hopefully they go out with a bang.
Still questionable: It already had to stop advertising because of the real-life neighborhood watch tragedy in Florida. Don’t be surprised if the release date shifts to later in the year, next year or even gets its title changed.
Domestic box office prediction: $150 million
Off the radar now, but not for long:
Moonrise Kingdom (May 25): The new Wes Anderson flick looks like the funniest movie of the year, if you think Anderson is funny. Which I do. Confession #7: Of all the movies coming out this summer, this is the only one I will move heaven and earth to go see.
Ruby Sparks (July 25): From the makers of Little Miss Sunshine, which also happened to be a late-summer sleeper. Confession #8: I am NOT using this distinction to kiss up to Paul Dano, even though, if you haven’t heard, I’m moderating a Q&A with him tomorrow. Oh, you did hear that? From me? A thousand times? Interesting. Anyway, the trailer just came out the other day:
Every summer has them. It’s unavoidable. I’m not sure if I’m ready to make my official pick for bomb of the summer, I don’t want to ruin my six-year streak of picking the summer’s bigger bomb before it happens. Thanks, Green Lantern, for hooking me up last year!
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22): Another underground comic book adaptation based in the Civil War era bombed two years ago around this time. Remember “Jonah Hex”? Didn’t think so.
Total Recall (Aug. 10): Just feels like a bomb. This is around the same time another Ah-nold movie remake bombed last year (Conan the Barbarian). Why would anyone think Colin Farrell could pull this off? Check out his filmography. See any action blockbusters? Before you say Miami Vice, you should probably check this out to know it was anything but successful.