summermovie-feature

Ready, Set, Go: NewsWhistle’s Summer Movie Preview

Sure, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” may have already crashed the party, stealing Spider-Man’s media credentials for the summer movie season, but that’s no reason for you not to get your superhero Underoos in a bunch.

To quote The Kool-Aid Man: “Oooooooh Yeeeeeah!” Yes, they’re finally here. Summer movies. Popcorn pics. Box office behemoths. Big, loud and for the most part…unstoppable. If you’re an arthouse auteur, take cover—there will be no less than 14 sequels and reboots marauding in multiplexes from now until Labor Day weekend.

From the beginning of May to the end of August, blockbuster films will be invading cinemas Godzilla-style, tearing the roof off the sucka and racking up billions of dollars, Euros and doubloons in the process.

With “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” jumping the gun overseas by a couple weeks—which is more common than not these days—it’s safe to assume that Hollywood is squarely focused on worldwide domination. That said, here’s our guide to what we think will be the Top 10 grossing films globally this summer.

WORLDWIDE TOP 10 PREDICTIONS- Jeff Bock Box Office Analyst

#1 – Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount) $925M – It’s been three years since the Autobots and Decepticons laid waste to a metropolis, and fans can’t seem to get enough robo-carnage. Consider this: each Transformers movie has made more than the previous one, with “Dark of the Moon” reaching the hallowed billion dollar mark.

Marky Mark and the Dinabot Bunch looks like the odds on favorite to hit that milestone again this summer, as overseas will absolutely slay audiences. Sure, there may be a little burnout in the U.S., but even “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” found a booty of nearly $250M on it’s way to $1B globally.

#2 – How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Fox) $785M – It’s been a rough go for DreamWorks animation since they jumped ship from Paramount to Fox as “Turbo” and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” didn’t exactly launch obvious tentpoles like “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” did when they debuted.

“Dragon 2” swoops down at just the right time for the studio. Not having pesky Pixar to deal with will certainly help the toon play all summer as it’s only animated competition is Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” which thankfully doesn’t carry the Pixar name, because, well, it shouldn’t.

Already on the release calendar as a trilogy, “Dragon 2” should perform like most highly anticipated sequels and out-gross its predecessor by a considerable margin. I’ve been privy to some advance footage and will say this: it looks gorgeous…which isn’t always the case with DWA toons, as scenery often plays second fiddle to the action and/or comedy. If this pulls a “Shrek,” we could be looking at one of the top films worldwide. Note: the original “Shrek” scrounged up $484M globally, while the sequel saw all sorts of green, hitting $919M.

#3 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony) $715M – As much as this entire series leaves something to be desired, Spidey also net gobs of cash for Sony. In fact, it’s the studio’s golden franchise right now outside of James Bond. Even the reboot, which was welcomed with mixed reactions, managed to haul in $752M—and that was the lowest grossing film in the franchise.

Sure, the canon-fodder of baddies is always a questionable and seemingly desperate move, but inking actors like Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and Paul Giamatti is a serious step up from when “Batman & Robin” had Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman.

Still, how about featuring just one villain like Venom or follow the infamous Kraven the Hunter storyline—both would seriously paint The Webslinger in a darker palette ala “The Dark Knight.” With part 2 and 3 already on the release calendar we can only hope this franchise gets better with age.

#4 – X-Men: Days of Future Past (Fox) $685M – Is this “The Avengers” of the X-Men franchise? Fox certainly hopes so. Combining all the elements for the fifth big-screen adventure seems to have stirred up fanboys and fangirls…now if they can only get the general populace to show up en masse like they did for “X-Men: The Last Stand” which opened to a franchise-high $102M.

Interestingly enough though, no X-Men film has ever topped $500M worldwide. Could this be the one? Yes. Could the Bryan Singer allegations hamper grosses? Probably not. This franchise is not a personal one,  while he may be the director, the brand name is much, much bigger than any one person. If it takes a village to make a regular film, it takes an entire kingdom to make a superhero flick of this stature.

#5- Maleficent (Disney) $665M – A summer without a Pixar picture is undeniably upsetting, but they are perfectionists over there, and you simply can’t argue with their track record.  Disney knew it had to offer up something big in its place, which is why the Mouse House slotted its live-action Sleeping Beauty update over Memorial Day Weekend.

Casting Angelina Jolie as the lead was the first masterstroke, and making it look like a cross between “Lord of the Rings” and Universal’s “Snow White and The Huntsman” will seal the deal as must-see family entertainment. It may not do numbers like “Alice in Wonderland” ($1.02B) but even if it flies off near “Oz: The Great and Powerful” ($493M) it’s destined to be one of summer’s biggest hits.

#6 – Godzilla (Warner Bros.) $645M – Sure, Warner Bros. sort of misfired with “Pacific Rim” last summer, but let’s face it, Guillermo del Toro’s monster mash-up was just a bit too “out there” for the multiplex masses. That said, it grossed over $400M while attempting to launch one of the most bizarre brands Hollywood has ever seen. The fact is, everyone knows about the giant green lizard that creates mass destruction; it’s classic cinema and should be a return to form for big-budget monster movies.

Sony’s instantly forgettable 1998 version—starring Matthew Broderick—terrorized theaters to the tune of $379M worldwide, a number this version should have no problem topping. And for those keeping score of behemoths at the box office: Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” racked up $550M back in 2005.

How cool would it be to see “Godzilla v. King Kong” in a couple years? Hopefully Universal and Warner Bros. can work something out.

#7 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $600M – Given that the last one locked down nearly $500M worldwide, it’s pretty obvious “Dawn” will continue to tap into the primal urges of audiences wanting to see who the dominate species is.

Believe it or not this is the 8th installment of the Apes franchise, which started way back in 1968. With the latest installment, Fox is on track to top $1B worldwide from the last three films of the franchise including Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” and  2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

#8 – Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney) $480M – If you don’t think Marvel knows what it’s doing by now this should finally seal the deal for the nonbelievers. Remember when Iron Man, Thor and Captain America were second-tier superheroes? Well, welcome to the outer limits of comic book stardom.

Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen?” That wasn’t funny, nor particularly interesting to the mainstream and it still grossed $185M worldwide.  “Guardians” not only arrives with one of the best and most satisfying trailers of the year, Disney’s magic touch might just transform this into a cross between “Star Wars” and “The Avengers.” Hopefully this is more than fanboy hype, because this could easily be the one film that wreaks havoc with the box office rankings this summer.

#9 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount) $355M – You know when they say that Hollywood only makes films for 13-year-old boys…well this is exactly what they’re talking about. Michael Bay jumps on board as producer, reuniting with Megan Fox (April O’Neil) in what looks to be a solid hit and the beginning of a new franchise for Paramount.

With “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe,” kid toys have been an awfully good fit at Paramount. And if the trailers have shown us anything, it’s that this isn’t the same troupe of turtles from the early 90s. Even with those awful looking animatronics, the TMNT crew punched up $201M worldwide, domestically alone that adjusts to over $250M+. Cowabunga, dude!

#10 – Edge of Tomorrow (Warner Bros.) $285M – Sure, at first glance this looks like a sci-fi remix of  “Groundhog’s Day,” or a “Source Code” if you will, but Tom Cruise can still pack ‘em in overseas, as “Oblivion” proved reaching nearly $300M.

While Luc Besson’s “Lucy,” Weinstein’s “The Giver,” “Expendables 3” and certainly a breakout comedy may end up on this list, Doug Liman is a talented director and due for another hit after his success with “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “The Bourne Identity.”  Hopefully, this turns out to be better than expected.

NOT TOP 10: BOMBS AWAY

With all the summer winners, there are inevitably some losers. And by losers, I mean train wrecks. And by train wrecks I mean unmitigated disasters with lots of caution-tape and finger pointing.  Remember “The Lone Ranger” and “R.I.P.D.” last summer? That’s what we’re talking about here.

One thing everyone seems to have in common: nobody seems to have “Jupiter Ascending” on his or her list. It looks like that and Dwayne Johnson’s “Hercules” may duke it out for misfire of the summer. That said, “Hercules” will probably do respectable biz overseas, and so might the Wachowskis latest starship, but it may be difficult to make up for the disappointing grosses that are likely in store for them domestically.

TOP 10 UPSETS: THE DARK HORSES

Last summer original fare like “The Conjuring,” “Now You See Me,” “This is the End,”  “World War Z” and “The Butler” all made serious contributions to the overall box office. Which films will surprise this year?

Will “Tammy” continue Melissa McCarthy’s box office winning streak? For that matter can Kevin Hart crank up the heat to “The Hangover” levels with “Think Like a Man Too?”  Will anyone buy into Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel’s “Sex Tape” or will it end up like “Zack & Miri Make a Porno?” Does “Deliver Us From Evil” have the  same pee-your-pants pedigree  that “The Conjuring” and “The Purge” had last summer? And will the modern teenage romance “The Fault in Our Stars” light up theaters like it has book sales?

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Summer comedy doesn’t often translate internationally—the exception being Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” which smoked traditional tastes with $549M worldwide in 2012—but a fair amount of this summer’s crop will easily land between $200M-$300M worldwide including: Universal’s “Neighbors” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” Sony’s “22 Jump Street” and probably, although shamefully, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore’s “Blended.”

TOP 10 FILMS WORLDWIDE: A CONSORTIUM OF PROGNOSTICATOR’S PICKS 

Don’t agree? Well, thankfully for audiences and exhibitors there are always other opinions. My favorite Hollywood adage—nobody knows anything—is a great way to look at and enjoy summer films.  So sit back, kick your feet up (but only if you’re in one of those luxury theaters), and see if you can eat your weight in popcorn this summer. Let’s roll!

How other movie biz experts & film fans see summer 2014 shaping up:

Dominick Borgia Ultimate Fanboy (DMovieguy82)

  1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  2. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  6. Godzilla
  7. Maleficent
  8. Hercules
  9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
10. A Million Ways to Die in the West

Scott Bowles Reporter, USA Today

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  2. Godzilla
  3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  4. Maleficent
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy
  7. 22 Jump Street
  8. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  9. Transformers: Age of Extinction
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Brad Brevet Rope of Silicon

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Godzilla
  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  7. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  8. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  9. Maleficent
10. Edge of Tomorrow

Phil Contrino Vice President/Chief Analyst BoxOffice.com

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. Godzilla
  6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy
  9. The Expendables 3
10. Hercules

Todd Cunningham Reporter, The Wrap

  1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  2. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  6. Maleficent
  7. Godzilla
  8. Neighbors
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

David Daniel Producer, CNN

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  2. Trainsformers: Age of Extinction
  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  6. Godzilla
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy
  8. Edge of Tomorrow
  9. Maleficent
10. A Million Ways to Die in the West

Ryan J. Downey MTV News

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  2. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  5. Blended
  6. 22 Jump Street
  7. Tammy
  8. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
10. Godzilla

Leslie Gornstein Entertainment Writer, Yahoo! Movies

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy
  2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. Godzilla
  6. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  7. The Fault in Our Stars
  8. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  9. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
10. Maleficent

Petr Hruby ERC’s #1 Twitter Fan (Ostrava, Czech Republic)

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  2. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  6. Godzilla
  7. Maleficent
  8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy
10. Hercules

Scott Mendelson Film Critic & Box Office Pundit (Forbes)

  1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  2. Trainsformers: Age of Extinction
  3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  6. Godzilla
  7. Maleficent
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy
  9. 22 Jump Street
10. Tammy

Dorothy Pomerantz LA Bureau Chief for Forbes

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  3. Godzilla
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy
  8. Maleficent
  9. 22 Jump Street
10. Lucy

Aaron Reller  ERC’s #1 Facebook Fanboy & Eric Stoltz’s #1 Fan 

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  4. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. 22 Jump Street
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  8. Maleficent
  9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
10. Edge of Tomorrow

Joal Ryan Los Angeles Based Journalist Who Writes About Movies For Yahoo!

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction 
  2. Godzilla
  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  6. Maleficent
  7. Edge of Tomorrow
  8. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  9. Expendables 3
10. Blended

Gary Susman Box Office Columnist for Moviefone & Rolling Stone

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy
  2. Trainsformers: Age of Extinction
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  5. Godzilla
  6. The Expendables 3
  7. Maleficent
  8. Edge of Tomorrow
  9. How to Train Your Dragon 2
10. Hercules

Jamie Williams Co-Owner/Operator ThinkMcFlyThink.com

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  6. Godzilla
  7. Maleficent
  8. Edge of Tomorrow
  9. Hercules
10. Guardians of the Galaxy

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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“Transformers: Age of Extinction ” Poster Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Poster Designed By BLT Communications