COLUMN: Late summer box office forecast
Every annual summer box office season tends to be front-loaded in the months of May and June with films looking to rake in the dough early. Disney releases led the way after already scoring a huge winter hit with Black Panther. Marvel’s follow-up, Avengers: Infinity War, sparked this year’s fire week earlier than usual, setting records during the final weekend in April with a opening weekend over $257 million dollars on its way to $675 million domestically and adding to over $2 billion worldwide. Solo: A Star Wars Story may have sputtered compared to industry expectations, but Pixar’s Incredibles 2, in just four weeks, passed Finding Dory to become the animation studio’s highest earning film ever with $520 million and counting.
The Mouse House isn’t hurting, especially with Ant-Man and the Wasp picking up where the other heroes left off, and neither is the competition. Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom may not gross what the first reboot film made, but scoring $350 million domestically and over a billion worldwide is nothing to discount. Fox’s Deadpool 2 capitalized its popularity into $315 million. In the counterprogramming department, Warner Bros.’s Ocean’s 8 earned an impressive $129 million and the senior crowd boosted Paramount’s Book Club to a very respectable $67 million.
But there’s still two months of the summer schedule to go. A few solid contenders remain to clean up the remaining monetary potential of the 2018 summer box office. Let’s take a quick look at the remaining field.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — FALLOUT
As has been the case all year, sequels movies have dominated this summer box office. The trend will continue with sixth chapter of Tom Cruise’s spy series. The Christopher McQuarrie film is set up for a big score in an empty late July slot weeks after the July 4th weekend players have had their time. Oddsmakers say a $50 million opening weekend is possible. I say it could exceed the $75 million opening Ant-Man and the Wasp just enjoyed and even have the potential to double the prognostication to crack nine figures. The advance buzz is overwhelmingly positive.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION
Here’s another sequel that it’s in a good position to profit. It has safely been a month since Incredibles 2 opened big, meaning it’s about time the kids out there are back to being bored and tugging on their parents’ shirt sleeves (and wallets) to go back to the movies for something new. The Adam Sandler-led Sony sequel has name recognition and light comedy to sell those parents and kids.
Sequels and superheroes may reign supreme and Tom Cruise may still be doing his thing, but Dwayne Johnson is still the #1 action star commodity in the world right now. I think he’s having a hey-day right now that exceeds the peak of Arnold Schwarzenegger a generation ago. He flat-out delivers and his movies constantly make good money. His second collaboration with Central Intelligence director Rawson Marshall Thurber has a two-week cushion ahead of Mission: Impossible — Fallout and shouldn’t have trouble earning its own tower of money.
TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES
If Hotel Transylvania 3 cannot grab family audiences, surely another dose of superheroes, only tinier, should do the trick. Warner Bros.’s animated band of DC sidekicks have their own TV following and the studio has employed a clever tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign to stay visible, even when opening against Mission: Impossible — Fallout. Watch that July 27th weekend produce two big openers.
THE BEST OF THE REST:
I wish I could say August has a couple of sure things in its calendar pocket, but the late summer month that has produced box office juggernauts in the past ranging from Sixth Sense and the Jason Bourne films to Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad carries a week lineup this year. Disney’s under-marketed Christopher Robin feels like a retread from the competing awards contender Goodbye Christopher Robin from last year. Jason Statham’s The Meg is an easy summer creature-feature which could get modest gains, but isn’t going to be Jaws or even Deep Blue Sea. Crazy Rich Asians could be this year’s Girls Trip for the right crowd and Slender Man is your classic token late-summer horror entry. There’s not much after the above list. No matter what, keep looking ahead to the rest of this year’s warm weather delights!