Let’s talk box office. The amount of money a movie makes doesn’t always mean the film is good (case in point, the wretched $300 million-grossing Suicide Squad). Summer movies tend to draw more attention to their typically massive opening weekend gross than their quality. On occasion, the movies are as good as the money we invest in them. Other times, we feed sucker money to a limp product that didn’t deserve our patronage. Either way, it’s fun predicting the films that will hit the hardest. It’s also easy to go wrong. I pride myself on declaring in this newspaper that Jurassic World would be the biggest hit of the summer of 2015. I was right but it was an easy guess.
On the other hand, I’ve been really wrong before. In fact, I’m reminded monthly on the NERDWatch podcast that I predicted the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy would flop (starring the guy from Parks and Recreation and a talking Raccoon? Sounded dumb to me). I also predicted The Mask would top Forrest Gump (wrong!), placed my 1990 chips on Die Hard 2 and not Ghost (wrong!) and expected big earnings and audience adoration from Tomorrowland, Terminator: Salvation and Waterworld (Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!). Here’s my list of 10 summer flicks I can’t wait to see and how I think they’ll rank in terms of monetary success.
Deadpool 2 (opens May 18th)
The Gist: Ryan Reynolds’ raunchy comic book franchise returns.
Why It Could Rock: Reynolds’ hard-R rated formula is back. Post-Thanos Josh Brolin is an inspired choice for the villainous Cable. The self-mocking sense of humor sets it apart from other Marvel movies.
Unless: Bad word of mouth and the second weekend swipe from Solo takes all the (flatulent) wind out of Deadpool‘s tights. The first movie opened in February but in the summer there’s lots more competition.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: #8: a disappointment that will open big and drop hard.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (opens May 25th)
The Gist: A young, cocky, “scruffy-looking” scoundrel meets a Wookie…
Why It Could Rock: A buddy duo that can’t miss and the unbeatable force of a Star Wars movie in the summertime. The last time Ron Howard directed a Lucasfilm product, it was Willow.
Unless: Audiences refuse to correctly pronounce star Alden Ehrenreich’s name because his make-or-break lead turn doesn’t land. The troubled production created controversy, not always a good sign.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: #1: summer’s top dog… er, Wookie.
Ocean’s 8 (Opens June 8th)
The Gist: An all-female, Danny Ocean-spinoff starring Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett.
Why It Could Rock: This is the only summer movie with built-in female appeal (aside from that wretched ABBA sequel). The cast is dynamite and the novelty of a gender-reversed heist comedy has great possibilities.
Unless: This plays exactly like the Melissa McCarthy Ghostbusters bust. Even if it throws Ocean’s fans a bone with a George Clooney cameo, some may wish they were watching Ocean’s 14 instead.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: #7: respectable but no Oceans 9-10, either.
Incredibles II (Opens June 15th)
The Gist: Nineteen years later, the only Pixar movie that needed a sequel belatedly gets one.
Why It Could Rock: The original is a Pixar milestone and the characters hold enormous possibilities. This is the biggest family movie event of the summer. Anticipation has been building steadily since 2004.
Unless: It plays like every other Pixar sequel that doesn’t have the words Toy Story in the title. Finding Dory looked like it couldn’t miss, either.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: #3
Jurassic World: Forbidden Kingdom (Opens June 22nd)
The Gist: More dinosaurs stomp all over Kauai… I mean, it’s Jurassic World. Stars Chris Pratt and CGI dinos.
Why It Could Rock: Director J.A. Bayona made The Impossible, is skilled at staging jaw dropping action and can keep the f/x from upstaging the actors. Outside of Jurassic Park III, none of these movies haven’t ruled their summer season.
Unless: The same-old, same-old feel of the trailer is a precursor for the movie. Jeff Goldblum couldn’t save Independence Day: Resurgence and may have trouble stealing this one as well.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: #4 and much less than the previous installment.
Sicario: Day of Soldado (Opens June 29th)
The Gist: Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin return and shoot more drug dealers.
Why It Could Rock: Once again written by Taylor Sheridan, it offers a return of the first film’s most arresting characters. The most grown-up of the summer movie sequels.
Unless: Emily Blunt and Denis Villeneuve are sorely missed. For all it’s critical acclaim, Sicario had a small audience and was hardly crying out for a sequel.
Predicted Box Office Gross: #10 but enough to get a part 3 rolling.
Ant-Man and the WASP (Opens July 4th)
The Gist: Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly team up again and get small.
Why It Could Rock: The lighthearted action will provide a nice contrast to the gloom and doom of Avengers: Infinity War. Spending the 4th of July with teeny-weeny Rudd sounds fun.
Unless: Comic book movie fatigue finally kicks in… which is doubtful. Will this seem too lightweight and insubstantial after the epic wrap-up of Avengers: Infinity War?
Predicted Box Office Ranking: #9: ant-sized box office sales next to The Avengers.
Skyscraper (Opens July 13th)
The Gist: Dwayne Johnson stars in a PG-13 Die Hard/The Towering Inferno rip-off.
Why It Could Rock: Well, for starters, it stars The Rock! Add dizzying CGI, Johnson’s 100-proof magnetism, a critic-proof premise and a family-friendly take on John McLane crowd-pleaser.
Unless: Audiences who let Johnson get away with Rampage don’t fall for another good-looking bad movie. Can Johnson still please hardcore action fans and his newfound Jumanji family audience?
Predicted Box Office Gross: #6: The Rock’s career is still cooking, even if the movie smells.
Mission: Impossible-Fallout (Opens July 27th)
The Gist: The sixth adventure for Ethan Hunt… and the team that follows him around.
Why It Could Rock: Tom Cruise’s insane stunt work alone will make audiences forget The Mummy ever happened. Against all odds, this series just keeps getting better and better.
Unless: The stunts and f/x are better than the story. The supporting cast includes Henry Cavill, Alec Baldwin and Angela Basset but will anyone but Cruise make an impression?
Predicted Box Office Gross: #2… as in, Cruise will be off making Maverick: Top Gun II by the time you read this!
The MEG (Opens August 10th)
The Gist: The 1997 killer shark/beach novel bestseller finally gets made into a movie.
Why It Could Rock: A fantastic trailer, a likable cast and persuasive CGI are enough to sell a ridiculous premise. Call it Jurassic Lite. Jason Statham finally gets the lead in a movie that hits big.
Unless: The movie is less a guilty pleasure and actually a really bad movie. Shark movies are big in the summer but this one looks less like Spielberg and more like Jaws 3-D.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: #5: the season’s biggest sleeper.
Photo courtesy IMDB