My favorite time of year at the movies is the summer, and while the field has shifted in recent years as far as when summer season starts and ends and when big-budget films get released, the term “blockbuster” is still synonymous with the season, as seen with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” kicking things off last week. Here I will take my best swing at predicting how some of the biggest movies on the upcoming slate will do in both their domestic opening weekend and overall worldwide, as well as some pros and cons for why each film could over- (or under) perform. Come September I’ll take a look back at how I (and the movies) did; I’m sure I’ll be spot on with as many as I whiff at.
Fast X (May 19)
Opening Weekend: $62 million
Worldwide Total: $720 million
Pros: It is an established franchise with over 20 years in the tank, and each installment has made over $600 million since 2009. The world (read: China) is also more open than it was in June 2021 when “F9” came out, which helps things (for context, that film opened to $70 million in the U.S.).
Cons: Each film has grossed less than the last five films running, and it can be argued that the series only saw massive boosts with “Furious 7” and its 2017 sequel due to boosted interest from casual filmgoers after the unfortunate passing of Paul Walker. China, while open, has been lukewarm for recent Hollywood films, as well. Reviews also don’t matter too much with a series like this, but early reviews seem to indicate this won’t be anything special (unlike the happy surprises that were “Fast Five” and “Furious 7”), keeping casual fans waiting for streaming.
The Little Mermaid (May 26)
Opening Weekend: $116 million
Worldwide Total: $1.1 billion
Pros: For the most part, the Disney live-action remakes have been financial powerhouses, with the likes of 2019’s “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” making $1 billion worldwide. I feel like “The Little Mermaid” could easily flirt with that milestone, especially since musicals do well overseas and the animation the film is based on is among Disney’s most-popular.
Cons: People have soured a bit to these remakes, and the trailers have already led to people pointing out how lifeless some of the sequences look compared to their animated counterpart (plus the internet hates the character designs of the animals). It also runs 135 minutes, which may may families with small children balk at going out to the theater.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (June 2)
Opening Weekend: $78 million
Worldwide Total: $550 million
Pros: The love and acclaim for 2018’s “Into the Spider-Verse” has only grown over the past few years, and Spidey’s star is shining as greatly as ever. We are also in the age of animated films being lauded by kids and 20-somethings alike (see the first “Spider-Verse” and December’s “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”).
Cons: The first film made “only” $380 million in the lucrative Christmas window, and this sequel runs 136 minutes (bit long for an animated), so it could hurt its family appeal. An increase on the original film’s is all but a given, but to think it doubles its way deep into the $700 million range doesn’t seem incredibly likely to me (I’d love to be wrong!).
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (June 9)
Opening Weekend: $55 million
Worldwide Total: $450 million
Pros: We are a long way removed from the days of Michael Bay’s “Transformer” films making $1 billion. This new one may not even cross half of that, but the brand still has some power. And coming off the critically and commercially successful “Bumblebee” ($468 million in December 2018, ironically also opening alongside the a “Spider-Verse”), there is some hope to be had.
Cons: Despite “Bumblebee’s” successes, it did earn nearly a third of what the previous films had made, save for the 2017 film, which crashed and burned with $605 million and signaled the end for the Bayhem era. This new film doesn’t seem to have much hype surrounding it less than a month out, and anything way over than $500 million worldwide would probably surprise me, but maybe China will show up to carry the weight Americans have dropped.
The Flash (June 16)
Opening Weekend: $100 million
Worldwide Total: $1 billion
Pros: There is some real hype surrounding the film, and everything from test screenings to early festival reactions have been glowing. Plus the “Batman: No Way Home” style of marketing, emphasizing Ben Affleck’s departure from the role and Michael Keaton’s return to it, will only help. While the superhero genre is certainly on the decline, it still is a financially lucrative piece of a studio’s arsenal when reviews are good.
Cons: Ezra Miller and the PR nightmare they’ve brought upon the film and studio over the course of four years won’t help things, and the current state of DC is in flux (James Gunn is hitting reset on projects and the Extended Universe, but not before several other films get released). People may not see a point in running out to see a film that will be irrelevant in six months, or wait for it to be on HBO Max (sorry, Max) by the end of summer.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June 30)
Opening Weekend: $110 million
Worldwide Total: $850 million
Pros: Unlike “Star Wars,” Harrison Ford is passionate and protective of his titular explorer and the franchise, and it isn’t likely he would make a fifth film simply for the paycheck. There still is some interest in the famed series (which hasn’t had an entry since 2008’s “Crystal Skull,” the original legacy sequel), though how much for people under the age of 55 remains to be seen.
Cons: The Disney brand has grown in detractors in recent years, and people may associate the recent decline in “Star Wars” quality with this film. It may also be seen as simply milking an IP, and at at a cost of $300 million, “Dial of Destiny” can’t afford to be seen as simply a nostalgia cashgrab. “Crystal Skull” debuted to $100 million in May 2008 (equal to $140 million today), en route to a $790 million worldwide total ($1.1 billion), and opening for “Dial” landing somewhere between “Skull’s” unadjusted and inflated figures seems fair; if it can reach the organic $1 billion mark is the real question.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (July 12)
Opening Weekend: $68 million
Worldwide Total: $720 million
Pros: After last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” it’s clear Tom Cruise’s star is shining as bright as ever, and early reactions to clips from the film have been glowing. 2018’s “M:I – Fallout” opened to a franchise-best $62 million and made $791 million during its box office run, and “Dead Reckoning” is likely to flirt with those numbers. The series shows no signs of slowing down (even if Cruise insists he’s retiring the character after 2024’s “Part Two”), so there’s little reason to think audiences will suddenly stop showing up. I do think the global total comes in a little below “Fallout,” but anything over “Ghost Protocol’s” $694 million would be good enough for second-best in the franchise.
Cons: Maybe the bump of “Fallout” was a fluke or thanks to the presence of Henry Cavill and his infamous mustache, and maybe “Dead Reckoning” running with a rumored three-hour runtime will both limit showtimes and keep some audiences away from theaters. Plus it will have to fight off the “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” crowds just a week later.
Oppenheimer (July 21)
Opening Weekend: $43 million*
Worldwide Total: $410 million
Pros: Christopher Nolan is his own brand, and one of the few directors working today (alongside Jordan Peele and Tarantino) who can open a film on name alone. His 2017 World War II film “Dunkirk” opened to $50 million and went on to make $527 million, and both seem like fair numbers for this. The cast is stacked, and it will get a boost from running in IMAX theaters.
Cons: The film isn’t an action-packed spectacle like normal Nolan joints, so teenage boys may not show up in droves (and since it’s rated R, they couldn’t if they wanted, another hinderance). The film is also opening up alongside “Barbie,” which on the surface may not seem like a typical box office threat, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The film coming out in Nolan’s typical July date instead of the traditional fall awards window may also make older audiences not feel the need to run out and see it.
*I originally had a projection of $55 million, however after it was confirmed the film would be rated R on June 1, I re-adjusted
Barbie (July 20)
Opening Weekend: $47 million
Worldwide Total: $460 million
Pros: Pretty much any actor who didn’t make the cut for “Oppenheimer” seems to be in “Barbie,” and while both Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling aren’t instant box office draws (they’ve each actually starred in some of the biggest bombs of the last 10 years), they’re both big names. The film is being directed by Greta Gerwig, who is beloved in the Letterboxd community and adored by critics, and should be the de facto option for teen girls (and men in their 20s, whether simply as part of a meme like last year’s “Minions” or not) to see.
Cons: Maybe the film’s meme status is all a facade like “Morbius” and the male demo doesn’t show up, or after opening weekend the legs aren’t there.
Thanks for reading, hopefully I undershoot each film’s totals by $200 million and we have the biggest summer box office in decades (a guy can dream). There will be surprise hits and bombs to be sure, so check back here in September when I break it all down. Have a great summer at the movies!
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