A big deal is made of the Summer movie season every year with the assumption that the highest grossing blockbusters are set to be released. However, in 2012 the story might be different with The Hunger Games approaching $400 million and hotly anticipated films like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 and The Hobbit headed for theatres this Fall. It looks like there is the potential for three of this year’s top five highest grossing films to come from outside of the Summer.
That is not to diminish what is probably going to be one of the biggest Summer Box Office seasons in years. The two highest grossing films of the year are likely to come from the Summer with several other strong contenders mixed in. One of the rare trends that I am predicting this year is a strong performance from original titles, meaning films that are not sequels or part of a franchise. There are potentially three films in my predicted top ten that fit that description, which was two higher than last year.
Here are my predictions for what are certain to be the big hits of 2012:
1) The Dark Knight Rises – July 20
OPENING: $162 million | OVERALL: $484 million
Up until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 premiered last Summer, The Dark Knight held the record for biggest opening weekend of all-time. The final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise will be seeking to reclaim that throne this Summer, and I predict that it could come very close. With the slightly higher price of a movie ticket, I am predicting a higher opening weekend than its predecessor, but a smaller overall gross because of tougher competition throughout the Summer.
2) The Avengers – May 4
OPENING: $160 million | OVERALL: $402 million
We don’t have to wait long to find out if this film lives up to expectations, with Joss Whedon’s superhero ensemble film slated to open next weekend. It is exceedingly rare that two films in one Summer earn more than $400 million, but The Avengers just might do it. It has the incentive of coming out in 3-D, which will give it a small boost through increased ticket prices, but it also has some obstacles to overcome. As the first major film to open in May, it will have a series of big movies opening in the immediate following weeks, so it will probably not have as many weekends at number one as The Hunger Games or The Dark Knight.
3) Brave – June 22
OPENING: $72 million | OVERALL: $294 million
Pixar movies have become one of the most consistent parts of the Summer movie season; they are guaranteed to do well simply because of the high reputation of the Pixar brand. The movies are known for starting less strong than some of their action movie colleagues, but having remarkable legs that carry them to higher overall grosses. I do not expect Brave to pull in the same types of numbers as Toy Story 3 or Cars 2, but it should perform similarly to their other original titles like Up and Wall-E.
4) The Amazing Spider-Man – July 6
OPENING: $89 million | OVERALL: $229 million
Ten years ago, when I was a sophomore in high school, the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man came out and was one of the cinematic highlights of the Summer for myself and other impressionable teenagers. Sony Pictures is trying to rekindle that fire for a new generation of young people with this reboot of the franchise. The problem is there are still too many of us around that remember the original series (Spider-Man 3 was only 5 years ago) and are uninterested in a reboot that smells like an obvious cash grab. This reboot will not perform as well as its predecessors, but should have no problem being one of the top movies of the Summer.
5) MIB 3 – May 25
OPENING: $78 million | OVERALL: $209 million
The second Men in Black movie had a higher opening than the first, but finished its run with a considerably smaller total. I predict that the third in the series will have a higher opening than both its predecessors, but finish its run right in the middle. Men in Black 3 will have 3-D, which the first two films did not have to boost their box office totals. A long enough time has also passed between the 2nd and 3rd films to allow viewers to forget about the awfulness of the second movie and remember the characters with reverence rather than boredom. This movie will also be a good test to see if Will Smith is still the bankable star that he once was.
6) Snow White and the Huntsman – June 1
OPENING: $67 million | OVERALL: $201 million
Apart from Brave, this is the original title that I suspect will have the most success at the Box Office this year. It has a nice June 1st release date that doesn’t put it up against any major competition, although with Prometheus and Madagascar 3 coming the week after, it will probably not stay at number one for more than one week. Original titles also depend on reviews and good word of mouth more than sequels do, which means the quality of the film must be decent in order for it to have the necessary legs.
7) Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – June 8
OPENING: $58 million | OVERALL: $177 million
The previous Madagascar film opened at $63 million and went on to earn a domestic total of $180 million. I suspect a similar, but slightly diminished performance from the third film in the series. It will be opening opposite Prometheus which means some parents may leave their kids at home, but it will have two weeks as the only children and family movie in theatres before Brave comes out.
8) Battleship – May 18
OPENING: $52 million | OVERALL: $170 million
Hasbro will not be seeing the same success with Battleship as they did with the Transformers franchise, but I don’t think this film will be the flop that many are predicting. The film opened several weeks ago overseas and has already raked in over $140 million after a $58 million opening. It opens up against comedies The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and has MIB 3 coming out the weekend after, so it has fierce competition, but the advertising has included enough explosions and Liam Neeson to entice the casual movie goer.
9) Prometheus – June 8
OPENING: $55 million | OVERALL: $165 million
This is easily one of the most anticipated movies of the year by the geek contingent, but I worry that it will face the fate of other geek franchises like Cabin in the Woods or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and fail to draw in the mainstream audience. I think general buzz about the film has been strong enough to give it a big opening, but it needs very positive reviews and word of mouth to make it one of the top ten films of the Summer.
10) Ice Age: Continental Drift – July 13
OPENING: $46 million | OVERALL: $159 million
This film opens the weekend before The Dark Knight Rises and will give the kids something to do while their older siblings, parents, and everyone else in the world sees Batman in action. The last two Ice Age movies have made nearly $200 million, but their opening totals have been steadily declining. Fox can’t expect the formula to keep working, and I anticipate this film will be the beginning of the decline for the series.
Movies That Could Sneak In:
- Dark Shadows
- Rock of Ages
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
- The Bourne Legacy
- Total Recall
- The Expendables 2
What do you think of these predictions? Too high or low? Did I over or underestimate any movies?