Welcome to the much-awaited special Reject Report Summer Box Office Preview, where we take a look at what may go down at the box office this summer with your favorite movies. Summertime is usually associated with big blockbusters and box office records falling at movie theaters, so we’ll take a quick look at what could be in store this summer and try and figure out which movie will win the summer title.
Of course, the last time I did one of these things I predicted that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would win the summer box office, and of course they did not. Instead it was The Dark Knight that prevailed and set all kinds of records. So it’s really hard to say what is going to happen. All I can do is peer into the future and see what interesting stories might develop, and who knows? Maybe my predictions will turn out to be right. But whether these movies will do well will depend on a lot of factors. One thing I notice is that the month of May is going to be absolutely glutted with big movies, starting with X-Men Origins: Wolverine and continuing with Star Trek, Angels and Demons, Terminator:Salvation, Night at the Museum 2 and Up. These are movies that ought to do really good business. Also, I look at where Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which both don’t have a lot of competition to face, and it seems to me that those two will do enormous business.
So I’m going to count it down from 10 to 1 and give my view as to which movies will be the big winners at the end of the summer. And I’ll begin by making a bold prediction: I am going to pick Bruno to finish in the Top Ten.
Bruno is that much-talked about Sacha Baron Cohen movie and is a follow-up to his big hit Borat, so everyone is excited about it already. Now, I know there was controversy over that NC-17 rating that was being talked about for the movie, but now that it’s been awarded an R rating I think the coast is clear for this movie to maybe surprise people. But you never know — if the buzz turns out to be bad in the end and this turns out to be a second-rate piece of junk compared to Borat, maybe it won’t do so well. Still, I always predict at least one movie to break through and surprise people, so this is the one I think will do just that, nosing out Public Enemies, Funny People and other worthy contenders. My prediction: $152 million for Bruno.
In ninth spot I am going to surprise some people and say Angels and Demons lands here, and I have a number of reasons why. This is the sequel to The Da Vinci Code, which made an absolute fortune. But I have a feeling this movie is going to be this year’s Prince Caspian and underperform, and it faces a ton of competition in May, so it may not do quite as well as people expect. But I will predict $172 million, which will be nothing to sneeze at, because there are still lots of fans of this stuff.
I am predicting Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian to land in eighth spot, which I am sure will also surprise some people who are hoping for big things for this Ben Stiller sequel. But it is rolling out the same weekend as Terminator Salvation, and while I know the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show has had all kinds of problems getting ratings, I think the movie franchise will be a different story. So Ben Stiller winds up with $186 million and Terminator Salvation hits seventh place at $197 million.
In sixth spot is Up, at $216 million. I know I am going out on a limb here by picking it to come in at sixth spot, but I have a feeling Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, is going to come in higher. And here is why: Ice Age is coming out on July 1 and will have the whole holiday week ahead in which to clean right up. Up will do well, but I think the Ice Age franchise will come in at $232 million to finish fifth for the summer. Usually you have at least a couple of animated features doing excellent business, and these look to be the two in the summer of 2009.
Four more left, and I am inviting controversy with my next pick. I am predicting X-Men Origins:Wolverine to finish fourth for the summer. And you know what that means, folks — that means I am really sticking my neck out on the line and predicting Star Trek will finish ahead.
A couple of weeks ago I would have said there was no way at all Star Trek would have finished ahead. The tracking had Wolverine opening way ahead of Star Trek, something like $100 million to $50 million. The recent buzz on the J.J. Abrams version, though, has been really good, and the latest tracking reports seem to be indicating that Star Trek could open at $80 to $100 million. I also have a feeling Wolverine will drop like a rock in its second and third weeks out, so Wolverine comes in at $278 and Star Trek finishes at $300 million.
That leaves two more: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I think by the end of the summer these two will be pretty close to one another in terms of gross, with one getting $340 million and the other getting $350 million. I highly doubt we’ll see another $530 million performance like we saw with The Dark Knight — I just don’t think these two flicks have enough fans. They do, however, have terrific positions on the calendar. Transformers 2 is in the clear on June 24 for what is sure to be a monster open, and Harry Potter is the last of the big blockbusters on the schedule with a much awaited July 15 mid-week opening date.
So which movie ends up Number One for the summer? Well, I guess I have to stick my neck out and say it. I think it will be Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — and here’s why.
This movie was originally slated for the fall of last year and it was famously pushed back by Warner Bros., much to the consternation and bellyaching of every one of these rabid Harry Potter fans who can’t live without their beloved movies. (Star Trek also stands to benefit this way, to a lesser degree, after being pushed back to the summer as well.)
I think these fans can’t wait for July to roll around so they can see Harry Potter again, and I think this one has broad enough appeal to be one huge hit. So that’s your summer box office champ. May I also remind you, before you place any bets in Vegas, that last year I called it for Indiana Jones. So my opinion on this subject is good for nothing, but then again you probably know that.
Now you are probably wondering about all these movies I omitted from the list. “What about Public Enemies? And The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3? What about Funny People? Or Inglorious Basterds?” Now, I’m not saying these won’t do well. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these finish with over $100 million — although I wonder about how broad the appeal of Inglorious Basterds is going to be.
There is one movie I am really worried about, though, and that’s that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra flick. Why do I get the feeling this will be the Speed Racer of 2009? I keep on reading nothing but bellyaching from people about this flick, so I have quite a few question marks about it. I notice Sienna Miller is in it, and for some reason this casting move reminds me of Malin Akerman and her participation in Watchmen. Fat help Akerman was to that movie’s box office in the end (only $107 million), and fat help Sienna Miller is going to be for G.I. Joe.
Don’t get me wrong — I still love Sienna Miller, but I also love Malin Akerman and all my favorite women seem to be on the losing end of the box office.
For the record, I also have question marks about Land of the Lost and Year One. These strike me as movies that might win the weekend and then fade away. Then again, they might also end up huge hits. I am really up in the air about these two in particular and how they might do.
So that is what I predict will happen. What I want to know is what do you think will happen? Will this be the way the box office plays out? What movies will outperform expectations? Also, what movies do you think will tank?
Like I say, take my predictions with a grain of salt. To me, this year looks particularly wide open and a lot of surprises could be in store.
Stay tuned later this week when we kick off the summer season with our Wolverine prediction for its opening weekend.