2013 is shaping up to be one of the wildest summers in box office prediction history and, I'm sad to say, that I think for most movies, 2013 will live up to its nickname "The Year of Bad Luck". Whenever people complain about too many sequels, they should look back at this summer, which is jam packed with risky propositions. In fact, I think there are only really seven sure things this year and all of them are sequels or, in the case of Superman, based off of an existing, established brand.
Before we get into the murky waters of the summer of 2013, let's look at what I consider to be the Seven Sure Things of Summer and how much I think they'll bring home. (And, as always, this is just domestic box office, not worldwide.)
1. Iron Man 3: 400 Million - Third movies often dip in terms of box office, especially after a sub-par outing like Iron Man 2, but I think that being the first major film of the summer (always a boost to a film's box office) coupled the strength of The Avengers will power Iron Man to close to 400 million domestically. Also, I think the film will have more legs because I have faith in Shane Black's writing and think it'll be the best Iron Man movie to date.
2. Man of Steel: 375 million - Honestly, I was a little worried about the latest Supes movie until the new trailer came out. The film still raises the Nolan-Monologue-Fest red flags but since that's never hurt his box office in the past and seems to be more of a personal pet peeve, I'm not holding it against Man of Steel. The reason I'm not going bigger than 375 million is because: a) this is coming on the heels of Superman Returns, which was a major disappointment, b) first movies don't often break the bank, it's the second films that reap the huge box office, and c) Man of Steel has zero breathing room, opening against This is The End and having Monsters University and World War Z opening the next weekend, followed by The Heat and White House Down. It's going to be tough for the Man of Steel to have the legs to carry it past the 400 million mark.
3. Star Trek: Into Darkness: 315 million: Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of the first JJ Abrams-helmed Trek film and I'm not a huge fan of Abrams's work overall but I can't overlook the fact that most people think I'm stupid for not liking him. Personally, I think the world would be a better place is someone at a studio told JJ that he could never use lens flare or alternate dimensions ever again but that issue aside, Star Trek made 250 million and second movies of popular flicks usually see a good bump. The reason I'm not going with a huge boost in box office is because the following weekend sees Fast and Furious 6 and Hangover 3 opening up (as well as the kids flick Epic).
4. Monsters University: 277 million - Pixar is always a safe bet to make the top ten (actually, the top 5) each summer although I'm not as gung-ho on Monsters University as I would be on most Pixar sequels. The Monsters don't seem to be as big of a draw as many of the other Pixar faves. and Pixar also has been on a downslide for a bit and this year is filled with competition, primarily Despicable Me 2 which opens just two weeks after Monsters U. Still, I hate to bet against Pixar and if Brave can make 230+ million than I don't think Monsters University will face much adversity. I'm betting against it breaking 300 million but it should be able to break the 250 million mark with some ease.
5. Despicable Me 2: 263 million - Despicable Me was a big surprise and I wouldn't be stunned if it ended up beating Monsters University but it's got some competition on its opening weekend in The Lone Ranger and, for some reason, I'm still not sold enough to predict that it'll beat Monsters U. or crack 300 million, although opening on July 4th weekend will definitely help.
6. The Hangover 3: 204 million - Not many people liked The Hangover 2 and while the latest trailers for the new Hangover are more interesting because they seem to be breaking somewhat from the formula, it still looks like more of the same, I think the Ken Jeong bandwagon has come to a stop, and franchises' third films almost always see a drop in box office, especially when they are following a disappointing second effort. Add in the fact that The Hangover is opening against Fast and Furious 6 and I think there's zero chance that they come close to the box office of the second film and I wouldn't be surprised if the film failed to crack 200 million.
7. Fast and Furious 6: 170 million - Fast 5 benefited from being the first major summer movie. As noted, Furious 6's opening weekend couldn't be more different than that - it'll already have two blockbusters in theaters when it opens (Star Trek and Iron Man) as well as another high profile release in The Great Gatsby and it opens against a kid's film Epic and Hangover III, which has the same target demo. On the bright side, the following two weekends are shaky at best. The Purge and Now You See Me both look good but neither scream blockbuster and the next weekend is After Earth and The Internship, two strong candidates for Flop of the Year (The Internship would be a lock for that title but I don't know if it cost that much to make.) So while I wouldn't be stunned if Fast and Furious 6 stumbled a bit this summer (and I don't think there's any way it matches Fast Five's box office take), I still feel comfortable putting it in the top ten.
Now that we've covered the Solid Seven, who the hell fills the final three slots?! Let's roll through the contenders.
The Great Gatsby: Looks interesting, great cast but sandwiched between sure things Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness.
After Earth: Tough to bet against Will Smith but Men in Black III opened to around 50 million and, with Man of Steel opening the week after this one bows, it'll need a much bigger opening weekend to make big money. I'm not seeing it.
This is The End: The Apatow Gang's meta-apocalypse comedy would be a dark horse if it wasn't opening against Man of Steel.
World War Z: This one's a contender but it has a ton of bad buzz, is opening in the wake of Superman, and has little breathing room in the following weekends.
White House Down: We just saw a similar movie in "Olympus has Fallen" and it's in the middle of a crowded slate and opens against "The Heat".
The Heat: Melissa McCarthy is hot right now and Sandra Bullock is a bonafide star and it has the Bridesmaids connection but is there enough in a pretty stupid looking comedy to connect to a wife female audience and draw in the fellas?
The Lone Ranger: Worldwide, this will do well. Domestically? I'm not hearing much buzz, Pirates of the Caribbean's last outing won't help, and Despicable Me opens against it, hurting the family draw.
Grown Ups 2: The original made 162 million and every Adam Sandler summer movie in the Aughts broke 100 million. Since then, he's struggled and That's My Boy might have been the death knell. Also, good luck getting the youth market with Pacific Rim opening up against it.
Pacific Rim: It's a big, dumb aliens fighting humans in giant robots movie. I just don't see it having enough initial draw to open big and a lot of middling fare opens after it which will likely keep it from having legs.
The Wolverine: X-Men: First Class only made 146 million and Jackman's last two stints as Wolverine saw diminishing returns, both in terms of quality and box office. The trailers haven't been that impressive and it faces competition in the second week in 2 Guns (Denzel, Mark Wahlberg) and the 300 sequel.
300: Rise of an Empire: Feels more like a straight-to-DVD sequel than a blockbuster. Is anyone still interested in a sequel to 300?
Smurfs 2: The first Smurfs movie made 146 million but was panned. Disney's Planes opens the following weekend so it'll take a big weekend to make money and I'm not seeing it having a big weekend.
Planes: Cars was kind of a disappointing film for Pixar so I can't imagine that this rip-off/fake spin-off is going to be able to muster much money, especially at the end of a summer that has been filled with animated features.
Elysium: A heady sci-fi flick starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster (from the director of District 9) has a tough road to hoe since it's coming at the end of the summer filled with sci-fi movies.
Kick Ass 2: As much as I loved the first one, it didn't make a ton of money and I'm not seeing it have the same draw as something like Austin Powers, which went from making 50 million first time around to 200 million for the sequel.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: It's a big teen lit franchise but only HUGE teen lit franchises seem to make money, especially in a crowded summer like this.
So, now that we've seen the contenders, who do I think will make the cut?
8. The Heat: 136 million - "The Heat" opens against "White House Down", which could cause a problem, but Identity Thief made 132 million (and a surprising amount of people seemed to enjoy it) and Bullock is a much bigger draw than Jason Bateman. I'm going to bet on McCarthy and Bullock being able to break 100 million and move close to 150.
9. Wolverine: 127 million: X-Men: First Class re-instilled people's faith in the X-Men franchise and Wolverine is still one of the coolest characters out there and now he's fighting ninjas. Also, it's one of the few post-June films this summer that opens against little or no competition.
10. World War Z: 114 million: 'm kind of rooting against this film because it looks stupid but takes itself seriously and it has a rough opening weekend and the more I type the more I want to pick something else for this slot but I'm going to bet on zombies and Brad Pitt to bring in enough people.
Looking it over, I feel pretty good about my guesses of WHO will make the top ten but I feel pretty terrible about my stabs at how much money the films will make. But I just can't shake the feeling that this summer has too many mediocre offerings for many of the so-so films to really make much money.