With the release of “Captain America: Civil War,” the best time of year, the summer movie season, is officially upon us. And with that comes my favorite aspect of it all: box office and blockbusters. So because I love me some dollar signs and tentpole releases, here are my predictions for how movies will play out at the box office this summer. I’m going to do the 10 films, in order of release date, which I think will be the biggest and/or most interesting grosses.
Honorable Mention: Captain America: Civil War (May 6)
This was released this weekend, but I predicted it would cross the billion dollar mark back in March. I don’t think it will outgross “Age of Ultron’s” $1.405 billion (7th all-time) but it could/should finish around $1.3 and land around 10th on the list. “Iron Man 3,” which opened to $174.1 million in May 2013 (an opening “Civil War” broke today with $179.1 million), finished with $1.2 billion. So look for “Civil War” to end around there.
- Money Monster (May 13)
I just don’t see this being a massive hit. It has the benefit of being the only wide release slated for that weekend and a film with the likes of George Clooney, Jodie Foster (director) and Julia Roberts (who has a semi-flop in theaters now with “Mother’s Day”) attached could draw in adults. However I think a film like this coming out in May and not during Oscar season says a lot about how good it actually is. Not to say it won’t be entertaining or insightful, but I doubt it’s art. I like to compare this to another Roberts vehicle, “The Secret in Their Eyes,” which came out last November. That opened to just $6.7 million before finishing at $20.2 million domestic, $32.2 million worldwide. “Money Monster” will best those numbers, but even Clooney isn’t a box office lock anymore (“Tomorrowland” lost Disney about $120 million). I think this should do alright, but nothing too crazy.
Prediction: $17 million opening / $70 million total worldwide
- The Angry Birds Movie (May 20)
Coming out the same weekend as “The Nice Guys” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” this will best both of those. Early reviews are mixed, so that could hurt, but that didn’t stop “Minions” from opening to $115 million and finishing with $1.159 billion last July. This probably won’t cross the billion dollar mark, but being the first true animated kids film since March’s “Zootopia (which currently sits at $954 million worldwide) should bring out the children, even if most schools are still in session.
Prediction: $45 million opening / $600 million total worldwide
- X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” opened to $90.8 million back in 2013 before finishing at $747 million worldwide; those figures should be on-par with “Apocalypse.” This is opening against “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” but the demos don’t really overlap. There isn’t the draw of uniting old and new cast members and not having Hugh Jackman (in a starring role, at least) may hurt, but people clearly want more X-Men movies, so this should do just fine, baring it getting critical backlash.
Prediction: $90 million opening / $750 million total worldwide
- Finding Dory (June 17)
Ah, Pixar sequels. They are interesting beasts. While it can very accurately be argued that the “Toy Story” franchise got better with age, many will point out the fact the sequels to “Cars” and “Monsters, Inc.” were subpar (to varying degrees). “Monsters University” opened to $82 million in 2013, and “Finding Nemo” was welcomed to the tune of $70 million way back in 2003 (en route to $936 million overall), so “Dory” should make a splash at the box office (I’m sorry for that).
Prediction: $115 million opening / $1 billion total worldwide
- Central Intelligence (June 17)
The other June 17 release, this one should do very solid, at the very least in its opening weekend. Summer comedies usually do very well, and both Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson have proven to have audience come out to see them no matter the reception the film is getting. Their last two films, “San Andreas” and “Ride Along 2,” made $54 and $35 million, respectively, so an opening of $40 million here isn’t crazy. For reference, here’s what last summer’s comedies opened to: “Spy” ($29 million) and “Ted 2” ($33 million) in June and “Trainwreck” ($30 million) in July. I think “Central Intelligence” will open relatively big, and depending on how good it is, it could have legs.
Prediction: $45 million opening / $195 million total worldwide
- Free State of Jones (June 24)
Opening against “Independence Day: Resurgence” won’t help, and getting delayed twice usually isn’t a great sign, so this one should be interesting. It looks like “The Patriot,” in that it is an action movie masquerading as a historical drama, and “Patriot” opened to $22 million in 2000; that seems about right for this Matthew McConaughey flick.
Prediction: $19 million opening / $90 million total worldwide
- The Legend of Tarzan (July 1)
Now this one really is a toss-up. On one hand, it is a big budget blockbuster ($180 million pricetag) of a story everyone knows, and has Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz attached. On the other hand, it could play out like “Pan,” another retelling of an age old tale, which had Hugh Jackman but made just $128 million against a $150 budget. Getting the coveted 4th of July weekend slot will boost its opening, but as films like “The Lone Ranger” ($29 million opening/$260 million gross against $215 million budget) and “Terminator: Genisys” ($27 million opening/$89 million domestic gross against $155 million budget) can attest to, you can still lose a lot of money once the long weekend is over. Plus this will be going up against “The BFG” (steals families) and “The Purge: Election Year” (steals teens who want action); “Tarzan” should open in the high 20’s and then flatline.
Prediction: $25 million opening / $270 million total worldwide
- Ghostbusters (July 15)
On July 15 we will all see if this movie is as dumb, unfunny and awful as the trailer made it out to look (it is the most disliked trailer in YouTube’s history, and YouTube has Adam Sandler trailers). Paul Feig again directs Melissa McCarthy, and together they open pretty consistently ($26/$39/$29 million). This is their first tentpole blockbuster outing so many will pay for the brand name (or just to see if it really is as bad as they thought). “Ghostbusters” has the benefit of being separate from other blockbusters (“Secret Life of Pets” is only big name film between “Tarzan” and it), so people will want to have a popcorn flick. This one really is tough to predict. It could flop (it cost $144 million to make) and open in the 20s, or could exceed and be welcomed in the $60 million+ range. I think it’ll gross around $40 million in its opening weekend, and honestly it is a mystery how much it will end up with.
Prediction: $45 million opening / $400 million total worldwide
- Jason Bourne (July 29)
This one is a long time coming. Sure we got “The Bourne Legacy” in 2012, but we haven’t seen Matt Damon in the title role since 2007. The four Bourne films opened to $27/$52/$69/$38 million, so an opening of at least $60 million can be expected. Damon is coming off his Oscar-nominated “Martian” role (a film that opened to $54 million in October), and last year “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” opened to $55 million on the same weekend, so sky is the limit here.
Prediction: $65 million opening / $680 million total worldwide
- Suicide Squad (August 5)
This one is no “Batman v Superman,” but the hype behind it is insane. Seriously, everyone seems to want to see this movie, whether they like comics or despised BvS. With big names like Will Smith, Jared Leto and Viola Davis starring, even adults who may not know what the Suicide Squad or the DC Extended Universe are may be intrigued. BvS opened to $166 million in March; this won’t touch that. However “Ant-Man” grossed $57 million last July and “Guardians of the Galaxy” opened to $94 million the August before that, so an opening in between those numbers seems fair. How much this finishes with depends on reviews; as “Batman v Superman” taught us, you can have a huge first weekend and then fall flat on your face (that’s going to finish with a “disappointing” $875 million).
Prediction: $75 million / $720 million worldwide
*All box office statistics via BoxOfficeMojo.com