Just made a blog post focusing on this summer's wide releases that will make under-$100 million. Here are the ones that I am predicting to gross over $100 million. Keep in mind that these are all estimates and predictions and I am no good with numbers. These are all dealing in domestic totals.
Also many of these are bound to fail to reach $100 million. I am basing estimates on trends and past figures, but there are just too many big budget movies and only so much money to go around (Summer 2012 brought in $3959 in domestic wide releases and 2011 brought in $3865). So these are optimistic predictions, but you can guarantee there are a few bombs on this list.
The Smurfs 2 ($100 million)
It really pains me to say it, but this is going to make money. I think that there is enough popular family fare this summer to keep it from reaching The Smurfs baffling $140 million, but even with a drop it should still make around $100 million. After all against all logic and sanity the lowest grossing Alvin and the Chipmunks movie made $133 million.
After Earth ($100 million)
This one is difficult to gage because it is being sold on M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith who have been much less prolific in recent years. Last year’s Men in Black 3 was Smith’s first movie in four years and it made $179 million which is less than I Am Legend ($256 million) and Hancock ($227 million). Shyamalan has been in a critical freefall since 1999, his lowest grossing blockbuster was Lady in the Water at $42 million. His other recent commercial and critical disasters were The Happening ($64 million) and Last Airbender ($131 million). There is enough name recognition and it is far enough away from May’s big releases to get number one or two for the weekend. However it is very similar in concept to April’s Oblivion and Man of Steel is released the following week, which would harm After Earth’s holdover. I am guessing this film does mediocre at best, bombs at the worst. Shyamalan and Smith have not been active lately and audiences tastes have moved on.
Lone Ranger ($100 million)
There are just enough factors to justify Lone Ranger reaching $100 million, but it is definitely a risk. Disney is clearly hoping that Johnny Depp will bring them to Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland sized receipts, but keep in mind that Johnny Depp isn't always a safe bet. Tourist only made $67 million, Rum Diary was low for a star-powered indie film at $13 million and his attempt to start a franchise last year, Dark Shadows, could only muster $79 million. Disney definitely knows how to market Depp, and Lone Ranger is a familiar character. But high concept westerns are tough sells and it is opening the same weekend as Despicable Me 2 which has more hype surrounding it. It will not be another John Carter or Mars Needs Moms for Disney, around Cowboys and Aliens disappointing $100 million seems like a good estimate. Disney will have enough money from Oz, Iron Man 3 and others to shake this one off though.
White House Down ($100 million)
I have a feeling this would do better if it weren’t released in the summer. There are just too many blockbusters being released this summer. However Roland Emmerich, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx’s name recognition and star power should help it perform decently. Audiences who saw the similar Olympus Has Fallen may skip it, but Tatum is a star, Jamie Foxx is coming off of Django Unchained and Roland Emmerich’s biggest movie involved destruction of the White House. Should do decently, but not one of the summer’s biggest hits. A little under Magic Mike’s $113 million, which was released the same time last year seems about right.
Turbo ($115 million)
Studio animated features rarely do poorly, but there are getting to be more and more of them. Dreamworks has only released sequels the last few summers (Madagascar 3, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Shrek Forever After). Turbo will probably not do that well. It is also released in mid-July, after Epic, Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 have been in theatres. Kids won’t need a new movie to see. It is close enough in concept to Cars to get some of that audience and stays within the marketable Dreamworks method. Should come out ahead of Rise of the Guardians $103 million, but there is enough competition to slow it down.
Planes ($120 million)
No matter what this is making money. Even though Pixar’s name is not on it and critics do not like the Cars franchise kids will see it and it will sell toys. This was made for DVD, so it is very low budget and a theatrical release (and likely 3D showings) should make back its budget several times over. I am estimating pretty far below Cars 2’s $191 million, just because I imagine parents’ wallets will feel fatigue by mid-August. But it could do better than I’m guessing.
Elysium ($130 million)
The trailer was just released and it looks awesome. It will most likely be August’s biggest release and retain District 9’s audience, while Matt Damon’s star power draws in newer audiences. Damon has not had a movie surpass $100 million since Bourne and as I keep saying there is a lot of competition this summer. $130 million seems to be a safe estimate for this original sci-fi concept, but this is one of the movies that could surprise. If it is good and audiences latch on it could wind up being a huge hit.
Epic ($130 million)
Epic, Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6 all open the same week (and only a week after Star Trek Into Darkness at that). Hangover and Fast & Furious are established franchises that should help them succeed no matter what, but the two male oriented films will split audiences. Epic on the other hand is the first animated feature released since March’s The Croods. That gives the Blue Sky film a huge edge, however it is being marketed as an epic fantasy. Those tend to not do so well (last year’s William Joyce adaptation, Rise of the Guardians underperformed at $103 million). When animated features do not market themselves as pop culture filled, hip, and wacky computer animated fare they tend not to get large audiences. Epic has the perfect summer release date, but there is enough going against it. A lower total for a Blue Sky release, but still a success.
Pacific Rim ($140 million)
This one is impossible to judge because there is not much to compare it too. Original monster and robot movies are difficult to come by (Cloverfield and Super 8 may be the easiest comparisons). It does not have star power and Del Toro, while well liked online, has not directed a huge blockbuster. Still it is enough of a high concept and has a very ideal July release date. I am just taking a shot in the dark here, because there is enough to reason that it could be a huge hit or a minor flop. I will just stick it here, based on a gut feeling. Be interesting to see how it does.
Fast & Furious 6 ($160 million)
Competition should keep this from reaching Fast Five’s astonishing $209 million, but loyalty to the brand will help it succeed no matter what. Guessing Hangover Part III gets the male crowd for its weekend. Also this lacks some of the factors that made Fast Five a surprise hit. The previous installment added something new with Dwayne Johnson and the heist concept, but 6 does not seem to change the stakes too much. Also Five had a great position as the first blockbuster of the summer (last week of April), 6 won’t have the same momentum in late May.
The Heat ($165 million)
Going to be one of the biggest hits of the summer, probably one of the most profitable 2013 releases. It has a lot of star power (Bullock’s last summer movie The Proposal made $163 million and McCarthy’s recent Identity Thief earned $169 million despite its quality). It also hits several demographics. Should get the female centric Bridesmaids audience, the 21 Jump Street buddy comedy crowd and the general comedy crowd (it is released the same weekend that Ted was last year). There should be enough laughs, female energy and action to bring in a little of everybody. While franchise familiarity of The Hangover Part III will do better, I am guessing that this is the comedy people will be quoting and talking about.
Monsters University ($175 million)
Pixar has been losing its footing in quality and box-office recently. Cars 2 made $191 million and Brave made $237 million, both low for the revered studio. Monsters U does not look to be much of an improvement, the concept and humor of the trailer does not inspire much confidence of a WALL-E, Up or Toy Story 3. Also it has been 14 years since Monsters, Inc. and the 3D rerelease failed last December. Since the franchise has not had the marketability of Toy Story or Cars I am guessing it earns on the lower end for Pixar. Provided Pixar on a bad day is still a box-office smash, but they need to turn this trend around.
The Wolverine ($180 million)
Not the biggest or most anticipated superhero movie of 2013, but still one that will bring in an audience. Released the same weekend as The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan’s Batman is a similar tone to Wolverine) it should do great. People love Hugh Jackman in this role as evidenced by the huge response to his small cameo in X-Men: First Class. He is also now an established movie star outside of the X franchise with Real Steel and his Oscar nominated role in Les Miserables. If the disappointing X-Men Origins: Wolverine could get $179 million this should at the very least do similar numbers.
Hangover Part III ($220 million)
The Hangover movies were large enough hits that even if there is a box-office drop it will still be a huge hit. There is enough competition and enough disappointment from Part II to keep the final installment of the trilogy from surpassing the previous Hangovers. Also final movies do not always bring in new audiences. This looks like it is trying to be epic like the second, so I am predicting some disappointment when compared to the original. But audiences really latched onto the original that they will see these characters one last time.
Man of Steel ($230 million)
Opening the exact same weekend as Jonah Hex and Green Lantern does not inspire much confidence. But it is being marketed fairly well and there is buzz for it online. The tone seems fairly close to Nolan’s Batman movies and his producer credit should build a strong enough association to that franchise. There are enough money shots in the trailer to make up for the lack of star power (Amy Adams is the fim’s biggest star) and Snyder’s diminishing returns for his past movies. Last year’s Amazing Spider-Man reboot seems like a decent comparison, but Superman (despite how well known he is) is a tougher sell than Spidey. I am being optimistic and predicting it will surpass Superman Returns’ $200 million, at least based on curiosity. But I am not entirely convinced this dark, emotional tone is a great direction for the character (however it audiences liked it for Spidey last year).
Despicable Me 2 ($275 million)
As much as I did not like Despicable Me and do not understand why it has a huge following, people loved that movie. It was the second highest grossing animated feature of 2010, both adults and kids latched onto it and the Minions have become marketable and almost iconic. With Epic and Monsters University not doing incredible for animation, this is the cartoon that people will see multiple times. If it is quotable enough it could have a Shrek 2 sized increase and make close to or surpass $300 million.
Star Trek Into Darkness ($300 million)
There will undoubtedly be a large increase from Star Trek’s $257 million, just don’t know how much. $300 million seems like a safe estimate (mainly based on only so much money that gets spent in a summer). But the first movie was a critical and commercial hit, hype has been building for this and Abrams position as the director of the new Star Wars will bring this movie a lot of attention. This movie raises the stakes and gets darker. People will definitely see it several times. If it is amazing it could even end up being the highest grossing film of the year.
Iron Man 3 ($350 million)
The Avengers $623 million is going to be tough to meet, but if any 2013 release can come close it is this one. Iron Man 3 has the advantage of starting off the summer, building off of the momentum from The Avengers, raising the stakes of the most profitable solo Avenger and some consistently brilliant marketing. There is more hype for this than any other movie. It will undoubtedly out gross its predecessors. This is the one to beat, folks and I am probably greatly underestimating its box-office potential.