Gunnar Predicts the Summer’s Smashes

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As a true movie nerd, I have a love-hate relationship with box office. Part of me says that it’s unimportant and drives films further away from taking risks and being artistic and more toward being economically safe. But, on the other hand, I can’t deny the power that the box office has on what movies will be made in the future and therefore what movies I’ll be seeing. Also, box office statistics can be pretty amazing — I’ve spent countless hours on Box Office Mojo looking at how movies have performed in relation to their genre, actors, directors, etc. My naivety still wishes that the best movies will make the most money and the uninspired are boycotted, although that rarely seems to happen.

This summer is absolutely stacked with sequels, adaptations and tent-pole releases, making this one of the most anticipated summers when it comes to movie marketing and box office. Also, being the second summer of the 3D craze, this will be the first summer (and maybe only) where 3D will be the norm for the blockbusters. Because of this, I thought it may be a little fun to try and predict the top ten earners of the summer with guesses on how many millions they will pull in. I imagine I will be totally and completely off, and my ego is totally fine with that — although that probably doesn’t mean that the good films will win.

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10. Thor (Weekend $69 million, overall $182 million)

Thor is at an advantage at coming out really early in the summer and jumping the gun on the super hero movies. It’s a risky pick as Thor really isn’t a mega property for the mainstream public, but hopefully The Avengers angle and positive early reviews will keep it making money throughout May before the other big movies start coming in.

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9. Fast Five (Weekend $72 million, overall $186 million)

In order for Fast Five to make it to the top 10 of the summer it has to perform really well in its first two weeks, before the bigger competition comes in. For reference, the 2009’s The Fast and The Furious ended up making $155 million after its weekend opening of $71 million, and with it’s incredibly positive early reviews, I expect it to out-perform its predecessor.

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8. X-Men: First Class (Weekend $75 million, overall $189)

X-Men movies have all performed extremely well at the box office (The Last Stand had an opening of over $100 million and Wolverine, as bad as it was, made $179 total), and although this is certainly the wild card of the series, I expect the film to be good and the casual fans of the previous X-Men movies to come out.

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7. Green Lantern (Weekend $86 million, overall $194)

Three super hero movies in the top 10, already? Well, this will be the highest earning one, in my opinion. The buzz right now for Green Lantern is crazy high and I think it will be kid friendly enough (a la Iron Man) to get families in the theater. It also is opening in a relatively slow weekend.

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6. The Hangover Part II (Weekend $110 million, overall $252)

The Hangover made a ridiculous $277 million at the box office in 2009, after only making $45 in its opening weekend. My bet is that this will be reversed with the sequel, with a huge opening and less word-of-mouth and repeat viewings.

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5. Cars 2 (Opening $77 million, $275 overall)

This is maybe the most difficult to judge. Widely considered as the worst of the Pixar movies, Cars has become maybe its most popular brand, doing well on DVD and toy sales. I see it doing what most Pixar and animated films do, be a slow burn that lasts all summer and piles up the money. I think parents will ultimately be less enthused about seeing this than they have been the past few films, and it won’t get the 20-something vote that allowed Toy Story 3 to be the highest grossing film of last year.

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4. Kung Fu Panda 2 (Opening $98 million, $302 overall)

Yes, I see Dreamworks taking down Pixar this summer with Kung Fu Panda maybe being the biggest surprise of the season. The first film made $215 million, which ain’t too shabby, but I think it’s 3D surcharge and audience it gained on DVD will help it out-do its expectations. One interesting plot line of the summer will be it opening up against The Hangover II on Memorial Day weekend, which could be a really interesting race.

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3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Opening $108 million, $340 overall)

Although it will be a smash success, I think Pirates may under-perform due to the declining box office numbers of the series (At World’s End “only” made $309). Poor word-of-mouth will be offset by 3D surcharges and a week by itself before getting met by Hangover and Panda.

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2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Opening $108 million, $352 overall)

I smell an upset! Transformers will obviously do extremely well, given its pedigree, prime time July 4th weekend opening and 3D surcharges. I am a little reluctant in giving it the top prize for the summer given a lot of the vitriol coming from Revenge of the Fallen. I don’t know how much Fallen’s insanely poor reviews will hurt Dark of the Moon, but I doubt it reaches the $400 million mark set by its predecessor.

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1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (Opening $132 million, $410 overall)

If this was a world-wide ranking, there is no doubt that Harry Potter would be number 1, as it is guaranteed to break the billion dollar mark. I think comparing it with Part 1 of the series is the best way to predict what its success will be — Part 1 made $125 opening, but only $295 overall. I think Part 2 will increase the number of repeat views and the 3D surcharge will be huge for this film. Also, being the last picture in the series, the buzz will be tremendous and absolutely every Harry Potter fan will see it in theaters at least once. The Return of the King may also be a good yardstick, as it made $377 overall, and increased by nearly 10% over The Two Towers — Potter will have to jump a little higher than that, but I think it can.

There are a few movies that have a chance to break into the top 10 (I accounted for 15 movies that could be in the top 10), so there may be a little bit of a shake-up at the bottom. I think the most interesting film may be Super 8, which could be a smash hit or suffer the fate that many smaller, original “nerd” movies have had the past couple of years. I have faith that it will be a modest success at around $150 million. Captain America is the other big wild-card, which I could see out-performing all of the other super hero movies this summer or, being the last to be released, suffer from the audiences’ collective ennui. Overall, I am fairly confident with my top 10 in order, although I think my numbers may all be a little off — the amounts separating the films tend to be a little closer. Tell me what you think in the comments section below and please feel free to chastise me for being a complete idiot.

tags: cars 2, fast five, green lantern, hangover 2, harry potter, pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides, thor, x-men:first class

  • http://twitter.com/pinkstonaa Aaron Pinkston

    So Fast Five opened to an estimated 83.6 millions, 11 millions more than my estimation.

  • http://twitter.com/pinkstonaa Aaron Pinkston

    Fast Five broke the 100 million dollar mark yesterday; looks like 186 mil. is in its range.

  • Anonymous

    You were very close on Thor’s opening weekend, Aaron.

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