My Top 10 favorite things of summer: no
school, suicide shushes from 7-11, Slip ‘N Slide parties, Cape Cod, black
bathing suit tops w/ cut-off jeans, cruising the beach in convertibles,
badminton, a good book in a swinging hammock, the hum of air-conditioning units
blowing gentle zephyrs up my shorts inside darkened multiplexes, and, of
course, Top 10 lists.
Yes, bikinis, Slurpees, and blockbusters are
just a couple of things that make the oppressive summer heat bearable and as
May 4th (the official beginning of popcorn cinema) looms large, it’s
time for to gather round the campfire and tell tall tales about the ultimate coolness
of the summer box office biz.
Fanboys and cinephiles this is your time.
These next four months are a haven for popcorn flicks and hot indie picks as
there are over 100 films (40+ wide releases) set to hit theatres in the cinematic
daze between May and Labor Day, including a dozen sequels and/or reboots, an
original Pixar film, and more comic book heroes than the Legion of Doom could possibly
TOP 10 SUMMER MOVIE QUESTIONS OF 2012
1) Why isn’t 7-11 kicking off the summer like they usually do immortalizing Marvel’s
deities—Thor, Iron Man, X-Men, The Hulk—in Slurpee form?
It may have been too many flavors for the 7-11
brass to handle, although I would’ve really enjoyed the Avengers Avalanche—a
snow white concoction of five tropically tart fruity flavors with a tinge of mighty
mint. But, alas, it was not meant to be. You see, Walt Disney—not Paramount—is
the new home of Marvel, and the Mouse House doesn’t want to pledge their
allegiance promoting products that are generally considered nutritional black
holes. That’s why they went with Red Baron Pizza (could the Red Baron replace
Loki as the baddie in the sequel?), Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Reese’s Peanut
Butter Cups, and Dr. Pepper, instead. See, that makes cent$, right? Just like
deep-fried corndogs, funnel cakes, lollipops bigger than your head, churros, and
turkey legs (I hear they’re actually emu legs) are jam packed with all the
essential fortified vitamins you need to make it through a day at Disneyland. Yes, commerce is king and Disney is a king of
spin. They’re also a marketing machine, and
have drummed up some serious business receiving upwards of $100 million in
marketing support for their $200+ million flick.
2) So, who comes out on top this summer in what is largely expected to
be the highest grossing summer on record, topping last year’s $4.4 billion?
Flip a coin. It’s “The Avengers” or “The Dark
Knight Rises.” Marvel vs. DC: The ultimate battle of spandex and cod pieces.
Marvel will certainly win the war, as they also have Sony’s “The Amazing-Spider
Man,” but still, bragging rights will go to the film that tops the leader board
this summer and I’m putting my money on…
1. The Dark Knight Rises (WB) – Arguably
the most anticipated threequel since “Return of the Jedi,” Christopher Nolan’s trilogy-capper
features the most extensive use of IMAX cameras ever for a big budget feature
and boards up the batcave with a bang and bravado that will be nearly impossible
to duplicate. Even though “The Avengers”
features earth’s mightiest heroes, it’s the Bat, the Cat, and the Bane who will
be the troika that tops the box office when all is said and done: $500 million
domestic and even more than that overseas, topping “The Dark Knight,” which
scored $1 billion globally.
2. The Avengers (Disney) – This
is the culmination of Marvel’s master movie plan. Yes, the assemblage of
Marvel’s mightiest may just break “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt.
2’s” opening weekend record of $169 million as filmdom has never seen an
all-star lineup like this one. Sorry, Expendables. Worldwide, this will
certainly be Marvel’s biggest export ever. Domestic: $450 million and likely
the first Marvel flick to cross the hallowed $1 billion mark as this will do
gangbuster biz overseas. Oh, and expect one of these every two years until the
3. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony)—I know
what you’re thinking…when is a reboot too soon? But consider this: The Web
Slinger is Marvel’s holy grail of comic book characters. Even “Spider-Man 3,”
which was universally despised, ended up grossing $336 million and $890 million
(a franchise high) globally. Sony is so
jacked on this reboot they nailed down the prime 4th of July release
date and already placed the sequel on the release calendar; the last film to do
that was “The Hunger Games.” ‘Nuff said. Domestic net: $315 million and closer
to $600 million across the pond as this is the first installment in 3D…a
dimension that is paying off rather handsomely in foreign sectors right
4. Brave (Disney/Pixar) —Pixar
can simply do no wrong. “Cars 2” you say? Oh, you know, just a middling $191
million and $559 million worldwide. No big whoop. Rolling out their first
original storyline in two years and the first Pixar flick ever to feature a
heroine in the lead, “Brave” will likely have critics falling all over
themselves and audiences drooling at Pixar’s magical doodlings: $240 million.
5. Men in Black 3 (Sony)—It
wasn’t too long ago that Will Smith was Mr. Box Office. Now he just sits on his
throne in his mansion as the prince of Bel-Air, while shepherding his son
Jaden’s burgeoning career. Still, even after a four-year hiatus from acting and
a decade since the last sequel, “Men in Black” somehow seems fresh again. The
trailer alone is already ten times better than the reheated “Men in Black II.” With
all the original cast members back, and Josh Brolin doing a killer Tommy Lee
Jones impression, expect audiences to return for more retinal probing and hyperspace
hijinx: $225 million.
White and the Huntsman (Universal)—While it may be the second Snow White adaptation of
the year, it also looks to be the fairest of them all, and the true successor
to the wildly successful fairy tale adaptation, “Alice in Wonderland.” Remember
years ago when two big-budget asteroid movies “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon”
both opened the same summer, well this looks like the same scenario where
Relativity’s “Mirror Mirror” did respectable biz, and Universal’s “Huntsman”
will become the mega-hit. Slow and steady and a huge budget ($100+ mil) usually
win the race. The cast is a dream-come-true for fanboys and fangirls, with
Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Plus, this has the look and feel of “Lord
of the Rings.” Female heroines are hot right now thanks to Katniss and young
women will likely flock to this in droves: $185 million.
Age: Continental Drift (Fox)—Isn’t the Ice Age over yet? Seems like this series has been going
on for 10,000 or so years, but you can’t argue another sequel when the
threequel made nearly $900 million worldwide. Pretty soon “Ice Age” is going to
have as many sequels as “The Land Before Time.” “Continental Drift” comes three
weeks after “Brave” and a month before “Paranormal” so it should have a great
late summer run: $175 million.
3: Europe’s Most Wanted (Paramount)—DreamWorks Animation loves to beat a dead horse. But with Donkey
and Shrek long gone, they’ve only got a hippo, lion, giraffe, and zebra to smack
around. Still, that should suffice. But
please, can we just get them back to the zoo already?!? Should benefit from being the first toon of
the summer: $165 million.
9. The Bourne
Legacy (Universal)—Is the success of the “Bourne”
series based on Matt Damon or the exclusive brand of wall-to-wall old school
action embodied by the original trilogy? We’re about to find out as Jeremy
Renner replaces Damon, and hopes to pull a chapter out of the book of Bond. Bourne
again: $160 million.
(Fox)—Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic is probably the
biggest gamble and biggest question mark of the summer. The horror/sci-fi genre
is one of the toughest sells in the biz, unless it is associated with “Alien”
or “Predator.” Luckily, Fox and Scott have dropped multiple hints all over the
place that his latest has ample amounts of “Alien” DNA. While fanboys have this
on the top of their lists, if this gets an “R” rating, it’s going to be a tough
sell to general audiences. When factoring inflation, the original “Alien” made
$246 million, while James Cameron’s “Aliens” surprising scored just $179
million domestic. Anything nearing $145 million in the US would be an epic
success, but to reach those heights “Prometheus” will have to be “PG-13.” If
it’s “R,” I would be surprised to see it top $100 million. Let’s just hope this
is equal parts action onslaught/mind-bender, otherwise Fox may be in for some
other-worldly hurt…cuz there’s no way this was made in true 3D cheaply.
3) Which films have the potential to surprise
and crack the Top 10?
Battleship (Universal)—Too big to sink? Universal took the
waterway-less-traveled, releasing a big budget spectacle in foreign waters,
weeks before its stateside launch. Having already made back $170 mil of its
reported $200+ mil budget, “Transformers on Water” is probably the most
unlikely film to be considered a success. I’m actually imagining Liam Neeson saying:
“You sunk my Battleship!” and sorta getting chills. Plus, the trailer actually
makes it look big, fun, and dumb…and isn’t that what summer blockbusters are
all about for the most part? Remember, director Peter Berg rescued a dog once before,
turning “Hancock” into a $500 mil hit, even though it pretty much sucked “Battleship”
balls. What the hell is that thing?: $120-$150 million.
Dark Shadows (WB)—Every so often Tim Burton can’t contain his gonzo-weirdness
and we get “Mars Attacks!,” “Ed Wood,” or “Sweeney Todd.” “Dark Shadows” looks
like another one of these, although his latest Johnny Depp collaboration has a
bit more social cachet as it deals with vampires. Expect a decent showing of
$100+ million, which would be a pretty nice bite out of the box office
considering it’s based on a soap opera from the late 60’s/early 70’s.
Rock of Ages (WB)—Is “Rock of Ages” the next “Mamma Mia!” or
“Hairspray?” Looks that way, as Tom Cruise camps it up in the 80’s musical. The
decade is ripe for a parody and the hits from that decade never die. This could be the big sleeper, and may hit
anywhere between $100- $150 million.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Paramount)—This
isn’t so much a sequel as it is a reboot that is a starring vehicle for Dwayne
Johnson and Bruce Willis. When you consider how big these two stars are
internationally this makes absolute sense from a financial standpoint, however
they will definitely lose a lot of the hardcore Joe fans stateside with this
incarnation, and I’d be surprised if it could match the $150 million the first
one made. Still it does open the weekend before Independence Day, and it would
be un-American of us all not to go watch Bruce and The Rock kick some
Cobra-ass: $135 million.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Fox)—I have
to admit, this looks pretty cool. But, at the same time, this has no big-time
stars and when Hugh Jackman explored similar territory with “Van Helsing” he
could only scare up $120 million. Still, this horror/action/adventure cost just
$70 million, so it should be a hit regardless of whether or not it taps into
$100 million. Remember, Russian director Timur Bekmambetov flew under the radar
with “Wanted” too, and that film ended up grossing $341 million worldwide. Too
bad Angelina Jolie wasn’t available to play a vampire queen.
Paranorman (Focus)—This could be
a monster hit from the folks that brought us “Coraline.” Set for release in
mid-August, if all goes according to plan, this could play through Halloween.
This easily has the best trailer of all the animated films coming out this
summer, and it certainly is the most original. Ghoul school is in session!
The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate)—Old action
heroes never die, they just keep shooting sequels. Simon West (“Con Air,” “Tomb
Raider”) has stepped in to direct for Sly and his family of stone-cold action
heroes, and they’ve apparently expanded Bruce Willis and Schwarzenegger’s roles.
And if that’s not enough testosterone, JCVD and Chuck Norris have been locked
and loaded for this mission. Where’s Steven Seagal and Vin Diesel? Threequel,
baby, threequel. While this is no doubt the biggest collection of brass balls Hollywood
has ever seen, even with a PG-13 rating, the sequel will probably shoot its
load early and top out at $120 million. ExtenZe, Viagra, and Magnum condoms
surely must have endorsement deals, right?
4) What film will be this summer’s “Bridesmaids?”
It’s doubtful we’ll see another “Bridesmaids”
this summer, but there are some interesting comedic prospects that may flirt
with $100 million including Seth MacFarlane’s ultra-raunchy R-rated “Ted”
starring Mark Walberg and Mila Kunis, Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg in Sony’s
“That’s my Boy,” Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in “The Campaign” and Vince
Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill teaming up for “Neighborhood Watch.” If
“Neighborhood Watch” lives up to expectations, I’d put my money on that one as
it has a sci-fi bend and an all-star lineup that is genuinely funny even if
they’re just standing around talking about flip-flops and applesauce.
5) What film will be the biggest bomb ala “The Green Lantern” and
“Cowboys and Aliens” last year?
Total Recall (Sony)—Nobody
asked for this. Nobody wanted this. Schwarzenegger’s original is still a
classic and this new reboot isn’t even set on Mars. Oh, and it reportedly cost
upwards of $200 million and stars Colin “I Will Never Carry a Film on My Name
Alone” Farrell. Oh yeah, and it’s
opening against “The Bourne Legacy.” Only foreign grosses will save this reboot-to-the-head.
Probably should have remade “Blade Runner” or “Howard the Duck” instead.
6) Anything for Cinephiles this
More so than ever before, in fact. Woody
Allen’s latest certainly won’t match the success of last summer’s “Midnight in
Paris,” but “From Rome with Love” will likely be a minor hit for Sony Classics. Also, Fox Searchlight is fully loaded this
summer, kicking things off with “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” which has
already grossed over $65 million internationally, and the indie shingle will be
play strong throughout the summer with “Lola Versus,” Sundance fave “Beasts of
the Southern Wild,” and “Ruby Sparks.”
Memorial Day Weekend is an indie haven, as Weinstein
will roll out the French drama “The Intouchables,” hoping for a little of the
box office magic that has seen the film gross $325 million internationally. And, let’s not forget indie-wunderkind Wes
Anderson, who has “Moonrise Kingdom” set to amp up the summer’s quirkiness
June will see Robert Pattinson manhandle and
manipulate a cadre of women in Magnolia’s period-piece “Bel Ami,” indie-king Mark
Duplass go sci-fi in the time-travel drama “Safety Not Guaranteed,” from
FilmDistrict, and director Sarah Polley dance around the drama of life in “Take
This Waltz” with Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams.
7) What is the most expensive film of the summer?
“The Avengers” and “Men in Black 3” are
reportedly budgeted at $215+ million and “Battleship” somewhere between
$200-$250 million. “The Dark Knight” cost $185 million, so it’s a safe bet “The
Dark Knight Rises” cost upwards of $200 million—which is money well spent. “The
Amazing Spider-Man” likely cost Sony around $200 million, too, but that’s a
known commodity, unlike the $200+ million spent on “Total Recall.”
8) Sacha Baron Cohen nearly made a fashion phenomenon out of his
Man-kini with the release of “Bruno,” will he do the same for ridiculously long
beards with “The Dictator?”
No, don’t be an idiot. “The Dictator,” however,
will perform much better than “Bruno,” although not as well as “Borat.”
9) What flicks would best be viewed at a Drive-Inn movie theatre this
Weinstein’s sequel, “Piranha 3DD,” should not
be seen any other way. While that might make seeing it in 3D a bit of a
challenge, this R-rated boobs-n-blood fest should definitely be watched with a highly
inebriated group of friends for maximum enjoyment. And if it’s a
double-feature, Steven Soderbergh’s male-stripper drama “Magic Mike” would be a
great twin bill.
10) Are you wearing an “Iron Man” Arc Light or “Captain America” Mission
Star to the midnight “Avengers” screening?
I’m Team Stark all the way, baby. Plus, I don’t
kowtow to any sort of jingoism or “made-in-America” marketing hype. Besides, I
believe both of these items are made in China with the Red Baron supervising.
(May 2, 2012) - Comments (36)