Box Office Brasserie – Movie News For Movie Lovers
Here We Go Again!
The Summer Movie Season is here. Take it away, Mungo Jerry.
Weekend #1 is in the books: $257 million dollars domestically and $640M globally, and already Summer 2018 is rewriting the record books as Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” now holds the highest grossing debuts, domestic and worldwide.
To put that into context, the debut of Marvel’s latest juggernaut at $640M nearly matches the entire lifetime gross of WB’s “Justice League,” which topped out with $657M.
Marvel has absolutely leveled the summer playing field, and by leveled, of course, I mean completely obliterated.
Twelve times in a row, in fact.
Kicking off the summer box office season is an honor, a privilege that none outside Marvel’s cast of characters have even had a taste of since 2006, when Tom Cruise delivered “Mission: Impossible III.”
That’s over a decade of dominance for Marvel, as they’ve firmly planted their freak flag, growing exponentially over that period of time and subsequently becoming the most successful brand name within the entire movie industry.
Is it any wonder that “Avengers: Infinity War” dethroned “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which rattled box office cages, debuting with a previously unheard of $247M.
No surprise there, as the chosen one—the film that kicks off the season the first weekend of summer—has always been designated as a lightning rod for the industry, creating hype and entertainment inertia that studios hope will rouse audiences and manifest a deafening buzz that blazes for three to four months as studios attempt to light up theaters with their big guns, tent poles, and sequels without equals.
That’s the challenge of the chosen one, a slipper that Disney alone has owned the last four years, and they don’t plan giving up anytime soon, as the studio has secured the first weekend of May from 2019-2022, with “Untitled Avengers” set for next year, and “Untitled Marvel” films to follow.
Marvel characters have locked down the first weekend in May—or last weekend in April, as Disney uses feats of superhuman strength to bend the release paradigm at their will—beginning with Sony’s “Spider-Man 3” in 2007 and subsequently introducing “Iron Man,” “Thor,” and a host of legendary characters.
So how did “Avengers: Infinity War” reach $257M? Don’t franchises usually peak with the sequel, not the threequel? Well, Marvel doesn’t play by traditional rules, I mean, “Captain America: Civil War”—which was sort of like “Avengers Lite”–debuted with $179M, kicking off the summer two years ago, while “Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” bowed with $207M and $191M respectively.
It’s no surprise that this third iteration of Avengers is even more potent than previous installments as it screams “Black Panther 1.5” with T’Challa and company firmly leading the way on promotional material. This makes sense, considering Marvel’s latest dropped $202M opening weekend, has since become the third highest grossing film of all-time domestically, and churned up $1.3B worldwide. All this for a character that was practically Z-list just a couple years ago.
Plus, “Avengers: Infinity War” was rumored to be the end of the line for a few of Marvel’s mightiest, considering Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans have been very vocal about hanging up their codpieces and calling it a comic book career.
However, from the looks of things, they’ll be around for one more, as we all know Disney previously titled their latest Avengers films as “Infinity War: Part I” and “Infinity War: Part II.” Marvel apparently didn’t want the stigma that a two-parter indicates, but that’s exactly what it is. It’s a cliffhanger of massive proportions…the likes we haven’t seen since “Empire Strikes Back.”
That sort of fanboy and fangirl fallout made “Avengers: Infinity War” a must-see movie going experience for anyone who has ever caught a Marvel flick, especially considering the wildcards, the Guardians of the Galaxy, also joined the fight.
So, what multiplex marauders will be Top 10 films worldwide this summer, besides “Infinity War?”
Here’s a list of the usual suspects—usual because nearly every one of them is a sequel or prequel, and suspect because of the way sequels underperformed last summer.
Doubtful we’ll see failure of the scale we witnessed last summer with sequels, especially since this year’s crop are much higher profile, and as a whole, offer up many more continuing sagas that audiences have actually have been pining for.
DEADPOOL 2 (Fox, May 18) – Ryan Reynolds and company looks like they’ve delivered the goods, yet again. The original subversively slayed audiences with a $132M domestic opening, and $783M globally—it can only go up from there. To which Deadpool would deadpan: that’s what she said.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (Disney, May 25) – They’ve already killed off Han Solo, now they want to mess with his legacy? Who do these people think they are? The Force is not as strong with this installment, but that said, it opens on one of the biggest movie-going weekends of the year—Memorial Day—and features an array of iconic Star Wars characters. That alone is enough to turn this into a sizable hit, but the question is: will this be the first Disney Star Wars film that doesn’t reach $1B worldwide? And if so, is that cause for alarm? Probably not. This is a one-shot deal, and hopefully they veer away from prequel adventures going forward, I mean, wasn’t that the general complaint about George Lucas’ last trilogy? Let’s shoot first…into the future—far, far away—where there are infinite possibilities and less chance of ardent fans bemoaning character choices.
OCEAN’S 8 (WB, June 8) – Steven Soderbergh’s trilogy that began in 2001, and wrapped up in 2007, grossed over $1B worldwide. And while the “girl power” chant didn’t quite do justice to the “Ghostbusters” franchise, “Ocean’s 8” looks like it has the correct reboot formula, and will likely be the right film at the right time. Let’s be honest: that cast. Sandra Bullock. Anne Hathaway. Cate Blanchett. Olivia Munn. Rihanna. Helena Bonham Carter. Dakota Fanning. They’ve already killed it with the casting. This will likely end up being the top-grossing film of the franchise—just needs to pass $450M the crew of “Ocean’s 11” sacked away.
THE INCREDIBLES 2 (Disney, June 15) – The original “Incredibles” dropped 14 years ago, if you can believe that. It seems back then, the superhero craze was really in its infancy. Now it’s a full-blown rite of summer. I mean, think about it: Avengers, Deadpool, Ant-Man & the Wasp and The Incredibles…all in the span of two months…and all are expected to be showstoppers.
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (Universal, June 22) – This is the fifth time the phrase “life finds a way” comes to mind, as the series keeps beating the same dead dinosaur only to revive them and splice in some more DNA. You can’t argue with the fact that its predecessor grossed $1.6B worldwide, but you do have to wonder if this will have a comparable dropoff like “The Last Jedi” did following “The Force Awakens.” And honestly, when are we going to get “Jurassic Universe”? It’s time for these dinos to conquer space, or at the very least, set them loose in the “Fast & Furious” universe.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (Disney, July 7) – Following in the Marvel footsteps of “Avengers: Infinity War” won’t be easy, but this series certainly has more compact expectations. Still, the first built up a solid $519M globally and should see a little “Infinity War” boost, especially considering what the Marvel Universe needs now is a little pick-me-up.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 : SUMMER VACATION (Sony, July 13) – Adam Sandler hasn’t gone full Netflix just yet. He still has one franchise that is sucking hard in theaters. Sucking in a good way, like a vampire. Oh, you know what I mean. Believe it or not, the first two toons checked in with over $800M globally. That’s a ton of sucking, folks.
SKYSCRAPER (Universal, July 13) – No, despite what you’re thinking, this isn’t a “Die Hard” reboot. To be technical, it’s more of a love letter to “The Towering Inferno” and “Die Hard.” That’s what writer/director Rawson Thurber (“Dodgeball”) calls it anyway. Now, if Fox (i.e., Disney) were smart, they would call Mr. Franchise Fix-It (i.e., Dwayne Johnson) to revamp the stalled “Die Hard” series, too. Remember, three summers ago, Johnson flexed his box office muscle, single-handedly crushing it with “San Andreas,” which cracked open nearly $500M worldwide. And coming off “Jumanji” and, yes, even the video-game adaptation “Rampage,” his international box office presence has only grown leaps and bounds since then.
MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN (Universal, July 20) – Look, I know the last thing you want is another ABBA revival, but that Swedish supergroup still can’t be stopped…and either can the sequel to 2008’s surprise musical hit which rang up over $600M worldwide. This can’t possibly work again, can it? Well, they’ve just announced a reunion tour, so there’s that. Never count out the Super Troopers.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- FALLOUT (Paramount, July 27) – Tom Cruise’s worldwide box office draw has turned this into a Bond-like franchise for Paramount. In fact, the first installment opened 22 years ago, in 1996, and Cruise, thanks to the wizardry of Hollyweird hasn’t aged at all. Yes, this franchise is more about the practical stunts than the actual plotline, but if Cruise keeps upping the ante (and stays alive), eager audiences will follow.
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (Disney, August 3) With “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Solo,” “The Incredibles 2” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” all expected to be big box office hits, Disney can afford to take a chance on a smaller film like this where Pooh and his pals pull a “Ted” and pop up in the real world. Looks sappy and sweet and just the right August treat for family audiences before they head back to school. Another pot of honey for Disney.
THE MEG (Warner Bros., August 10) With the success of “The Shallows” and “47 Meters Down” in back-to-back years, it was just a matter of time before a major studio tried to lure in audiences with another big-budget shark flick. Based on the bestselling book, “The Meg” will likely surprise, especially overseas, and may even swim away with a sequel. Look, shark movies make money—even ones that insult audiences’ intelligence. Just ask “Sharknado.” Equal parts parity and peril, WB hopes that “Deep Blue Sea” was just a drop in the chum bucket compared to what “The Meg” will chomp off.
ACTION SEQUELS—BIG GUNS, BIGGER BUDGETS
Sony drops two action sequels with “Sicario: Day of the Saldado” (June 29) and “The Equalizer 2” (July 20), which both fit the bill for hard-hitting action. Benecio del Toro and Josh Brolin return; however, we unfortunately say “adios” to Emily Blunt. Meanwhile Denzel pops up in the first sequel of his long career. If Sony was truly hip, they would have called Antoine Fuqua’s film “The Sequelizer.” I mean, chances like this don’t come along very often, folks. Well, I suppose there’s always “The Threequelizer.”
Also, STX Films gets into the mix with Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg’s “Mile 22” (Aug 3) who collaborate for the fourth time together after “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon,” and “Patriot’s Day.” August is a crapshoot and this honestly looks more like crap than sharpshooter.
SCARE TACTICS—WHERE ARE THE THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT?
We all know horror is an extremely fertile stomping ground at cineplexes right now, but unfortunately for audiences, the studios didn’t get the ball rolling soon enough as “The Conjuring” and traditional studio fright-fests are almost nowhere to be found this summer. That said, Conjuring Universe spin-off, “The Nun,” does kick things off early in fall, and is set to scare the bejesus out of you the first weekend in September.
Distributor A24, which had hella success in the horror arena before with “The Witch,” has a shot to make some major noise with their Sundance sensation, “Hereditary” (June 8). The chill pill has already scared the pants off audiences and could do some major damage considering Blumhouse’s fourth installment of the Purge, titled “The First Purge” (July 4), is really the only other horror flick of the summer. That film will serve its masters well, as the first three installments chalked up over $300M worldwide, costing less than $25M combined.
And then there’s Sony’s “Slender Man” (August 28). At the recent CinemaCon in Las Vegas this past week, where studios descend upon theater owners and industry oglers to show off their future slate of films, their “underground” horror film was, like the man himself, non-existent. Not even a poster. Interesting, especially since it closes out the summer season.
GIRL POWER—IS THERE ANOTHER WONDER WOMAN THIS SUMMER?
Technically, no. However, there are plenty of ladies leading the charge with Anna Farris’ “Overboard” (May 4) reboot from Lionsgate, Melissa McCarthy’s “Life of the Party” (May 11), Gabrielle Union’s “Breaking In” (May 11), and Paramount’s AARP bread-winner, “Book Club” (May 18), featuring a phalanx of feisty females in their golden years. And yes, strangely enough, all of these female-driven films arrive in May.
June sails off with Shailene Woodley’s “Waterworld” tribute, “Adrift” (June 1). I kid—it’s a love story based on a true-life tale about sailing across the sea, getting lost, and finding oneself. Looks pretty epic, as STX shot it almost entirely on the water…for only $35M…not $250M like Kevin Costner’s cult classic. After “Adrift” lands “Ocean’s 8,” which will probably be the biggest “chick flick” of the season.
At the end of June, MGM has just announced the action/comedy, “The Hustle” (June 29), starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, which is a down and dirty reworking of 1988’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” featuring Steve Martin and Michael Caine.
August sees two more female-led flicks that should deliver—Lionsgate’s action/comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (August 3) with Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis, as well as Warner Brothers’ “Crazy Rich Asians” (August 17), which features one of the biggest rarities in homegrown Hollywood movies: a cast comprised completely of Asians. The book was huge; the movie should make some serious late-summer noise, too, as it’s positioned in the same territory literary adaptations “The Help” and “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” both found success.
And then we have STX’s “The Happytime Murders” (August 17). As advertised, this is an R-rated muppet adventure, sort of like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” but even edgier, and stars Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks, and Joel McHale.
McCarthy teams up with her puppet partner to solve some crimes and snort some ecstasy, and ultimately raises the curtain off what really happens when pervy puppets pull their own strings.
An instant cult classic, and probably August’s most, um, titillating film. Will leave audiences in stitches, as this goes where no puppets have gone before—mainlining their perviness in multiplexes—and could be something special, in a very dirty way, like “Sausage Party” was a couple years ago. And yes, it’s directed by Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson, so you know it has puppet pedigree. Note: bring silly string to your screening. Trust me.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT—IS DIVERSITY ALIVE AND WELL THIS SUMMER?
If the $1.3B “Black Panther” earned earlier this year is any indication, audiences definitely want more African-American films front-and-center. Just ask Tyler Perry, he’s been making a mint on that specific audience for decades without much competition.
Lionsgate’s “Uncle Drew” (June 29) may just be the dark horse comedy of the summer, as today’s basketball culture will finally have its say on the silver screen, and hopefully make people forget all about “Space Jam.” C’mon, be honest, it’s not as good as you remember. Kyrie Irving, Reggie Miller, Tiffany Haddish, Shaq, and many more friends tip off in late June and should see a slam dunk over the July 4th weekend.
Sony drops their “Superfly” (June 15), hoping to capitalize on HOTLANTA as the new-ish cultural epicenter of the African-American community. Um, well, again, Tyler Perry started that years ago…that’s where he’s based out of and has been for some time.
Also, in limited release, Boots Riley (lead vocalist of “The Coup”) writes and directs “Sorry to Bother You” (July 6) from Annapurna Films. A Sundance hit, this one is definitely “something different,” but unfortunately, that’s not usually a big sell for audiences.
And, let’s not forget the latest Spike Lee joint, “BlacKkKlansman” (August 10), which is probably his most accessible work in years, starring Denzel’s son, John David Washington, as well as Adam Driver and Topher Grace. Looks solid.
INDIE SPIRIT—CAN SMALLER FILMS SURVIVE THE SUMMER HEAT?
We’re about to find out. Focus Features takes a stab at the audience that loved “Juno” as they release screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman’s second follow-up, “Tully,” (May 4) starring Charlize Theron . The first reunion didn’t go so well as “Young Adult” pretty much tanked, grossing just $16M, compared to $143M with “Juno.”
Gus Van Sant returns to theaters with the bio dramedy “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot” (July 13) starring Jonah Hill and Joaquin Phoenix, based on the life of cartoonist John Callahan.
The very same weekend A24 releases the timely film, “Eighth Grade” (July 13). The coming-of-age dramedy has been wowing audiences with the trailer featuring Enya’s “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away). Too early to tell if people are excited about Enya, or the film, or both. Either way, it might just break out.
Focus also rolls out two mainstream documentaries; one on the late, great Fred Rogers in “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (June 8) and the other about the current pope, “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” (May 18).
Roadside Attractions also goes the doc route with a portrait of Whitney Houston in “Whitney,” set to drop the mic July 6th.
BOX OFFICE BOMBS—WHO ARE THE CONTENDERS?
Along with hits, there are always misses. Just mentioning last-summer’s “Valerian,” “Baywatch,” “King Arthur,” and “The Dark Tower” makes industry executives cringe. It’s never a matter of if, but when, a summer film will completely miss its target demographic and become a box office bottom feeder.
Sony’s “Alpha,” WB’s “The Meg,” and “Tag,” Fox’s “The Darkest Minds,” and Paramount’s “Action Point” stand out as possibilities; however, most of the mega-budget sequels look to be a bit more flop-proof than 2017. Unless they’re not, and then we’re in real trouble as there are, count ‘em, 15 sequels and reboots set for release this summer—all of them arriving before August, so at a pace of five per month.
SUMMER 2018—WORLDWIDE TOP 10 PREDICTIONS
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
- Deadpool 2
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- The Incredibles 2
- Mission: Impossible- Fallout
- Ocean’s 8
- Ant-Man & The Wasp
- Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!
Just missing the cut: “The Meg” and “Hotel Transylvania 3.”
That’s a wrap. Wear lots of sunscreen, eat lots of popcorn, and like Kevin Costner in Waterworld, sail away…Orinoco Flow-style this summer.
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.
Lead-In Image (“Deadpool 2” Poster) Courtesy of 20th Century Fox; Poster Design by Ten30 Studios & 20th Century Fox Domestic Theatrical Creative Advertising