Predicting Some More Summer Bombs

 It used to be pretty easy to pick out a movie that bombs.

You’d look at the box office figures over an opening weekend and say, Bomb.

That’s not how it goes anymore. There is so much useless, red-herring rhetoric and spin that a Hollywood executive could convince you seven different ways that Howard the Duck actually made money for its studio.

Take Battleship. On a $209 million budget, it managed only about $25 million during its opening weekend, charting a certain course to a naval graveyard of movie bombs.

But hold on. Lest we forget the international box office, where Battleship has already raked in more than $215 million. Or the merchandising deals that probably upped sales of the actual board game about 765,935 percent. Or the fast-food deal inked with Subway. Or the potential Blu-ray sales …

You get the idea. That doesn’t mean you can’t predict a bomb, you just have to be more creative when you do it, like analyzing these four potential summer movie bombs:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Release date: June 22

Going up against: Brave, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

It’s based on an obscure comic book, which is great … for the 10 people who read it. And aren’t we done with vampires yet? Or at least earned some kind of rest period of, like, a decade or so? Dueling with Pixar’s summer entry (Brave) and the possible comedy sleeper of the summer (Friend) isn’t going to help matters.

a movie by any other name

The Watch

Release date: July 27

Is this Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn-Jonah Hill farce born under some kind of bad sign or something? First comes the name change, from Neighborhood Watch to The Watch after the Trayvon Martin catastrophe in Florida. Then comes The Avengers, which shows how a huge hit can swallow up everything releasing within two weeks of it. You know what releases one week in front of The Watch? Dark Knight Rises. Ruh-roh. Then came the red-band trailer, a funny but confused mix of comedy, sci-fi and F-bombs.

Total Recall

Release Date: Aug. 3

Going up against: The Bourne Legacy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

For the second year in a row, a Hollywood studio is taking a shot at remaking an Arnold Schwarzenegger classic and releasing it in August. Ask the good people of the Conan the Barbarian remake how that theory went last year. Colin Farrell taking over for Arnie in Recall is about as opposite as if Jane Lynch would have replaced Jennifer Aniston on Friends. Opening an iffy action movie against Legacy — a very popular action franchise — is baffling.

we'll have to wait a while to see more of this.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Release date: June 29 (but pushed back to next March and I didn’t feel like deleting it)

Going up against (if it would have opened on June 29): Magic Mike, People Like Us and Tyler Perry’s Witness Protection

History lesson: the first G.I Joe didn’t make its money back at the United States box office, yet here we are talking about a sequel. The first one tried to introduce credible actors into a action franchise — a noble effort — but it didn’t matter since the script was garbage. Here come The Rock and Bruce Willis to basically wipe their butts with anything that looks like a script and just blow stuff up. The release date has already moved to avoid going head-to-head with Bourne, a pretty good indication of how the studio feels about this movie. Also, just so everyone knows, I wrote this two days before Paramount pushed it back a year to a lower-leverage March date. So I’m smart, is what I’m saying.

much less chance of bombing now in a more friendly release date


Release date: June 29

Going up against: Magic Mike, People Like Us and Tyler Perry’s Witness Protection

It will be hard for this to be a major bomb because it probably didn’t cost that much money to make in the first place. It’s Seth MacFarlane’s first movie about a guy and his pet teddy bear, and the red-band trailer seems raunchily funny enough. It jumped all over the June 29 date this week when GI Joe ducked and covered, because it would have been creamed in its July 13 original opening date. As it is, it’s still going to have to work to find an audience one week before Spider-Man and a crowded weekend that is now a month away instead of six weeks away. That’s a pretty short time in marketing definitions.

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