Some people love Oscar season but for me, nothing will ever beat the summer movie season. It’s hard to beat going into an air-conditioned theater in the middle of the summer heat and seeing a blockbuster on the big screen. And with the summer season comes another big aspect: box office draws (and flops). Here I will go over the most intriguing releases for the upcoming summer season, starting with “Avengers: Endgame” and running through August.
Avengers: Endgame (April 26)
Opening Weekend: $289 million
Worldwide total: $2 billion
Since the release of “Infinity War” last April and today, the hype for “Endgame” has grown to historic levels. When pre-sale tickets became available, the film set records and outsold its predecessor’s entire first week in a matter of hours, crashing websites left and right. I think it has a shot at a $300 million opening weekend if certain factors fall in its favor, but either way it should blow away “Infinity War’s” record of $258 million.
Detective Pikachu (May 10)
Opening Weekend: $72 million
Worldwide total: $850 million
I could see this one relying a bit on word-of-mouth to leg out, because after Pokémon fans show up week one it will need to appeal to a broader audience, but this should at least open well thanks to solid trailers, the brand strength and Ryan Reynolds’ boyish charm in the title role. It is only rated PG, too, so it will get that sweet family money, and will likely make a killing in Asia.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (May 17)
Opening Weekend: $32 million
Worldwide total: $165 million
The first “John Wick” was a middling result in 2014, opening to $14 and legging out to $43 million. However, those who did see it cried for a sequel, which we got in 2017; it debuted to $30 million and grossed $171 million worldwide. At this point, those who show up will be those who saw and liked the first two films, third films rarely take off randomly, so I think figures that hover around the second outing is fair.
Aladdin (May 24)
Opening Weekend: $90 million
Worldwide total: $770 million
This one is interesting. On one hand, “Aladdin” has had a troubled trip to the big screen, with a questionable director running the show (Guy Richie), whitewashing controversy and suspect trailers featuring Will Smith as Genie. On the other, the animated film is a classic and, for the most part, the live-action Disney reimaginings have taken off at the box office. I think that this one truly will need the support of the millennial crowd that grew up on the original in order to thrive, as we saw when they don’t show up and give the stamp of approval, your $170 million-budgeted “Dumbo” crashes with a $45 million opening.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)
Opening Weekend: $60 million
Worldwide total: $580 million
A sequel to a 2013 film that received a lukewarm reception from audiences is a bold venture. When it is supposed to set up a cinematic universe and showdown with King Kong, the stakes are even higher. The first “Godzilla” film opened to $93 million, while “Kong: Skull Island” made $61 million back in March 2017; they legged out to $529 million and $566 million, respectively. I think this will play more like a “Kong,” but I can honestly see a world where this thing struggles domestically. We’ve seen that people like monster movies, even random ones like “Rampage,” but have the trailers (all seemingly the exact same and beaten into our brains by playing before every single movie since November) and time away from the King done more harm than good?
Dark Phoenix (June 7)
Opening Weekend: $48 million
Worldwide total: $480 million
This latest “X-Men” installment will likely bomb, and I could be being generous with my numbers. Delayed and reshot numerous times (running the budget above $200 million), it has a cast that doesn’t want to be there, a new parent company (Disney) that will want to reboot it and a fanbase that has shown they want R-rated “Logan” not more of this prequel/reboot series. The last team-up, “Apocalypse,” opened to $66 million in 2016 and finished at $543 million worldwide. Unless “Dark Phoenix” is brilliant (which every single indicator points at that not being the case) this will dip below those numbers and send the Fox X-Men series out on a whimper.
Men in Black International (June 14)
Opening Weekend: $52 million
Worldwide total: $555 million
Another semi-reboot series, this MiB film will have “Thor: Ragnarok” stars Chris Hemsworth and the ever-charming Tessa Thompson picking up the torch from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Those two starred in three of these films, with the third film opening to $55 million in 2012 and finishing at $624 million worldwide. Neither of those two figures seem hard to beat by 2019 blockbuster standards, but if this struggles with critics we could have an example of a double instead of a homerun for Sony. I think this looks fun and people will show up for it, but it definitely looks like one that will rely on Rotten Tomatoes.
Toy Story 4 (June 21)
Opening Weekend: $150 million
Worldwide total: $1.1 billion
This one has rubbed some people the wrong way. Pixar has been making needless sequels to its masterpieces for a few years now (“Finding Dory” and “Incredibles 2” are both carbon copies of their predecessors), but many thought “Toy Story” was safe since they had already made one of the best trilogies of all-time. But the evil Mouse Empire does not rest, and here we are. I’m sure much like “Incredibles 2” (which set animated debut record with $182 million) this will see both families and 20-somethings shoving their way into the cineplex, and seeing as the third film made $110 million in its opening weekend and $1.06 billion in 2010, this one should follow in the footsteps of other pointless Pixar sequels and clear a billion, too.
Spider-Man: Far from Home (July 3)
Opening Weekend: $130 million
Worldwide total: $850 million
Marvel, Tom Holland, follow-up to “Endgame,” families together for the 4th of July holiday, Spider-Man brand… yeah, this thing will be fine.
The Lion King (July 19)
Opening Weekend: $180 million
Worldwide total: $1.3 billion
The third Disney remake in many a’months, the original film debuted $41 million and legged out to $312 million, and those are 1994 dollars. Including several re-releases its total box office draw sits at $968 million. Needless to say, the bar is high for Jon Favreau’s “Jungle Book” follow-up, but there is little reason to doubt him or Disney. Unlike “Aladdin” there has been no cause for concern surrounding this remake, and the cast, including Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen and a returning James Earl Jones, will sell the film on its own. I may be low-balling this one.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (July 26)
Opening Weekend: $38 million
Worldwide total: $290 million
The last time Quentin Tarantino opened a film in the summer was “Inglorious Basterds” and not only was it his best-ever film but it also marked his highest opening with $38 million. Take that with a grain of salt, as the likes of “Django Unchained” opened on a weekday Christmas and while its opening weekend was technically $30 million it made $63 million in its first six days. Anyways, there is plenty of hype behind this one, which sees an incredible cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, and a real-life event, in this case the Manson Murders. The issue here is this latest Tarantino film cost $100 million, so it will need to make “Django” money ($425 million) in order to be a success, regardless if it gets award buzz or not.
Hobbs & Shaw (August 2)
Opening Weekend: $60 million
Worldwide total: $760 million
The “Fast & Furious” films have been incredibly consistent over the past decade, making more and more money and (until the most recent film) have been getting better with each installment. This is the first spin-off, focusing on the introduced characters played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. While it is too much to expect or ask this film to play like an actual “Fast” film ($90 million opening and $1 billion finish) the built-in fanbase and Johnson’s star power should power it to solid numbers, especially playing in the typically barren August wasteland.
So that’s it. The films I am most interested in seeing performance-wise this upcoming summer season. Check back in September to see how I did, and until then have a great summer at the movies!