Every year, once the summer months approach, I start thinking of my yearly tradition of trying (and invariably failing) to predict what movies will make the most money at the American box office. Recent developments like the ever growing importance of international box office to Hollywood’s economy, the proliferation of big budget summer-type movies in other seasons of the year, and the increasing way in which blockbusters feel more like prefabricated products than actual movies make this exercise feel less vital than it once was, but as long as we have a “summer movie season”, I’ll be willing to play along. Because if these movies feel more like excuses to make money than works of art, why not talk about how much money they will make? By the way, I recorded a podcast discussion about this project with fellow blogger Rachel Wagner, which you can listen to here. I think we had a pretty good conversation trying to make some big box office predictions, so please give it a listen.
Alright, before we get into it, let’s see how I did last year (hint: not great). I assumed (wrongly) that Captain America: Civil War would dominate the box office, and that the only other movie with a chance at the throne was Finding Dory. Well, Dory had more than a chance, and it ended up as number one for the summer despite the fact that I don’t think anyone (myself included) remembers having seen the movie. My predictions also included Alice Through the Looking Glass making 240 million dollars. Instead, Alice was one of the biggest flops of last year, not even clearing 100 million. So that’s how bad I did. But let’s not dwell on the past, but look forward into the future. Here are my predictions for 2017:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Release Date: May 5
Predicted Box Office: 450 Million
I have wrongly predicted a Marvel movie to come out on top of the box office two years in a row now. How could I be foolish enough to predict the same foolish thing for a third year in a row? Well, I just can’t see any other movie doing better. Guardians of the Galaxy was the biggest hit of summer 2014 bringing home 333 million dollars, and if the sequel is going to follow in the pattern of most superhero franchises, Volume 2 stands to do better than the original. I think 400 million is almost guaranteed, and if word of mouth is good, the movie could even reach 500.
2. Wonder Woman
Release Date: June 2
Studio: Warner Bros.
Predicted Box Office: 350 Million
Warner Bros. has a horrible track record trying to recreate the Marvel model with its DC Comics adaptations, but even movies as critically reviled as Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad cleared 300 million dollars. Now, audience fatigue for these movies might have grown big enough to turn this movie into a flop, but Wonder Woman’s appearance was one of the few things people liked about Batman v. Superman, and I sense true audience excitement to finally have a female hero front her own movie. If the movie is better than the last two DC adaptations (and how could it be worse than Suicide Squad?), then it’s bound to make more money than they did.
3. Despicable Me 3
Release Date: June 30
Predicted Box Office: 300 Million
Kids just can’t enough those Minions… or can they? Minions saw a rather small -but perhaps indicative- drop in box office results from Despicable Me 2. If the drop-off for Despicable Me 3 is analogous to the one experienced by Minions, that would still put the movie in the 300 million ballpark. Animated family movies do well in the summer, and without Disney or Pixar (kind of, more on that later) in the mix, this seems like the most likely candidate to end up on top as far as that type of movie is concerned.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Release Date: July 5
Predicted Box Office: 280 Million
Not unlike Wonder Woman’s role in Batman v. Superman, Spider-Man’s appearance was the most celebrated part of Captain America: Civil War. That regained excitement for the character, paired up with Robert Downey Jr’s expanded role in this movie, should guarantee Homecoming to be a success. Not quite big enough to reach the heights of the Sam Raimi years, but certainly enough to do better than the last entries in the franchise.
5. Transformers: The Last Knight
Release Date: June 23
Predicted Box Office: 225 Million
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Release Date: May 26
Predicted Box Office: 200 Million
I’m bundling up these two movies together because they strike me as two very similar cases. They’re both fifth entries in franchises that strike me as not particularly beloved, and while the last installment of each saw a significant drop in box office, they still cleared 200 million quite easily. In both cases I’m making a conservative prediction of how much money they will make, with the thought in the back of my mind that either one could turn out to be the big flop of the summer. And even if they end up being duds in North America, both movies are more than certain to make ridiculous amounts of money overseas, where both franchises remain intensely popular.
7. Cars 3
Release Date: June 16
Predicted Box Office: 190 Million
Kids love Cars, but not as much as they love Minions, and more importantly, parents don’t enjoy them as much as they enjoy other Pixar franchises. Cars 2 was the first Pixar movie since the nineties to not clear 200 million, and while I don’t foresee a surge in enthusiasm making Cars 3 somehow a bigger hit than its predecessor, I don’t foresee a slump in enthusiasm either. I’m predicting it to do pretty much as well as the last one did.
Release Date: July 21
Studio: Warner Bros.
Predicted Box Office: 180 Million
Seems like the days in which Nolan could open an original movie to Inception numbers are gone, but Interstellar brought in 188 Million, and I don’t see a reason why Dunkirk shouldn’t be able to come really close to that mark. Who knows, maybe this will be the surprise hit of the summer and dominate the box office, but World War II seems to close to reality for summer audiences who prefer escapist superheroes and talking CG creatures.
9. War of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: July 14
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Predicted Box Office: 155 Million
The Apes franchise seems pretty healthy (money wise), though it’s fairly certain it will never climb up to the upper echelon of billion-dollar blockbusters, it’s probably got enough good will to clear 150 Million. Whether it can do more than that is the real question.
10. Alien: Covenant
Release Date: May 19
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Predicted Box Office: 150 Million
This seems like a significant question mark for me. People are certainly excited for Ridley Scott coming back to the Alien franchise, or perhaps that’s just the people in my Twitter feed? Do casual moviegoers care about this sort of thing? Prometheus cleared 100 million, but didn’t get too far beyond that. I expect the name Alien to bring more money than that, even though I don’t expect it to be a huge hit by any metric.