Guardians, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and other superheroes to dominate summer at the movies

Cairns on Cinema

John Cairns

Welcome to our 2017 Cairns on Cinema summer blockbuster season preview special again!

Yes, indeed, the summer movie season launched May 5 to 7, which also coincided with some 20-degree plus Celsius temperatures in our area. So it will feel like summer again, both outside as well as inside in the movie theatres.

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As for what to expect, well, it looks like the same as usual. You know, every summer it seems like we get the same thing, with familiar franchises returning with their latest sequels. 

Today, I am preparing my annual predictions of what to expect at the box office for the May-through-August period generally known as summer blockbuster season. This is typically the season of the superheroes and space aliens, and CGI-animated cartoon characters, and other populist entertainment.

It is also typically the season of the biggest movie grosses. But I question whether that will be the case this year. We had a stronger than usual spring season. Just this past April, The Fate of the Furious opened to a massive worldwide haul, just crossing the $1 billion mark in gross! That follows up on movies like Beauty and the Beast and Kong: Skull Island, among others.

Also, the November-December season promises to be huge, with a Justice League release in November, and with other releases including Pitch Perfect 3, The Six Billion Dollar Man and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle coming in December. The mother of all releases promises to be Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Dec. 15, which threatens to set no shortage of box office records.

The reason I mention these movies is because the lineup of movies this summer looks a little “blah” compared to later in the year.  

What I find most interesting is the scheduling. In past years, you could usually count on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Iron Man to show up in one movie or another during the first weekend in May.

Not this year. In an interesting bit of scheduling, the Marvel offering during the first weekend of May will be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

As for Iron Man, he won’t be making an appearance until later in the year, when he shows up in Spider Man: Homecoming rolling out on July 7. Already, the hype machine is on. I notice the Sony studio has already released details about the new armor Iron Man is supposed to be wearing for that movie.

No doubt, the comic book fans are eating up this information. In my estimation, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will be the two movies that duke it out for first place at the domestic box office this summer. I will fill you in a little later on which one I think will end up on top for the entire summer.

After looking over the slate of releases, and after much consideration and contemplation, here is my list of what the top 10 movies of Summer Blockbuster Season will look like at the domestic box office:

10. Alien: Covenant, Fox, opening May 19

There isn’t a heck of a lot for science-fiction fans at the box office this summer, which explains why I think this latest in the Alien series will do $160 million in business -- which would be a record for the franchise, if it happens.

9. The Mummy (2017), Universal, opening June 9

My prediction is this revival of the Mummy franchise makes it into the Top Ten with a $170 million haul, largely thanks to Tom Cruise’s casting.

8. Cars 3, Disney/Pixar, opening June 16

For some reason this Cars series is the red-headed stepchild of the entire Pixar lineup. Nobody gives this series much respect. Still, the NASCAR fans love this series which is why it should do good business in the range of $200 million.

7. War for the Planet of the Apes, Fox, opening July 14

The previous release Dawn of the Planet of the Apes made $208 million domestic, so I feel justified in predicting that this one might do a little better than that at $220 million.

6. Transformers: The Last Knight, Paramount opening June 23

Quite honestly, aren’t people fed up yet with this lousy Transformers series of movies? It looks like people are finally getting sick of it, which is why I predict only $240 million for this one.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Disney, May 26

Johnny Depp is back and so is the Pirates franchise after a considerable absence. My guess is fans will welcome this franchise back with a $270 million domestic haul.

4. Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. opening June 2

This is the long-awaited debut feature film for Wonder Woman, one of the pillars of DC comic books, who was introduced to audiences in the previous Batman V. Superman movie a year earlier. Given that Batman V. Superman made around $330 million, it stands to reason Wonder Woman might do similar business. My guess is $310 million.

3. Despicable Me 3, Universal, opening June 30

The Despicable Me series has been on fire at the box office in recent years and should dominate the CGI-animated box office this summer. My prediction is $340 million, a number that would be in line with the past grosses of Despicable Me 2 ($368 mil) and Minions ($336 mil).

That leaves the battle at the top of the box office for the summer of 2017, and after running down all the numbers and scenarios, here is what I have come up with:   

2.  Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony/Columbia, opening July 7.

I have gone back and forth on this one. On the one hand, there seems to be a real desire out there for a Spider-Man movie compared to past years. What’s more, this movie has exactly the “star power” that should propel it to a summer box office victory. By star power, I’m not talking about movie stars. I’m talking comic book stars: Spider-Man and Iron Man, who have absolutely dominated the box office in previous years and who Marvel can count on for doing so again.

My concern is the previous grosses for the last two Spider-Man movies: both fell well short of the $300 million domestic threshold. I think this one will do better than that, but it won’t be enough to win the summer. Sorry, Spider-Man fans. My guess is the domestic haul will come in at $370 million, which would still be a considerable improvement over the past two movies.

That leaves the number one movie of the summer box office, which I predict will be:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2., Disney, opening May 5

On this prediction, I’m going with my gut, based largely on how well the first movie in this series did.

It’s also based on the fact that it should get off to a roaring start at the box office this weekend. I’ve seen estimates floated of a weekend domestic haul of $150 million.

If that is the case I expect an overall haul around $450 million, and that, my friends, should be enough to win the summer box office race in 2017.

So there you have it: my prediction is a huge summer for Marvel, DC, and Despicable Me characters, as usual. But there is always room for surprises and upsets, and it always seems as if there is at least one unexpected surprise movie that catches fire and dominates. If you’re looking for possible Top 10 upsets, you might want to keep an eye on An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, coming out July 28: you can bet all the Al Gore fans will show up for that one, and round up their friends, too.

That’s my look at what’s in store at the cinemas during the summer of 2017! Enjoy the warm weather, and the movies. 

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