Summer is upon us. At 7:00 PM tonight, theaters across the country will begin showing Marvel's Captain America: Civil War, which will kick off the next four months of absolute cinematic insanity. Box office riches will dawn upon the major studios and every week will see the release of a new blockbuster with lots of potential. Starting with the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, here are my box office predictions for the first half of summer 2016.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR- May 6
Opening Weekend Prediction- $223 million
Total Gross Prediction- $680 million
Although Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron was topped by Jurassic World later in the summer last year, I feel certain in saying that Captain America: Civil War will be the highest grossing movie of the summer. Even last year when AoU was hitting theaters, it felt like a significant amount of the anticipation had been pushed away towards Joe and Anthony Russo's third entry in the Captain America franchise. Pitting Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) against each other may have originated with Warner Bros.' decision to make a Batman v Superman movie, but there's no question that Marvel will get the last laugh. Reviews are great, the excitement is there- this movie is going to be absolutely monstrous.
MONEY MONSTER- May 13
Opening Weekend Prediction- $16 million
Total Gross Prediction- $60 million
I'll be honest here. Even though I'm very excited to see what Jodie Foster has made with Money Monster, I'm tired of seeing the trailer for it. No matter what theater I go to these days, I can almost guarantee that I'll be seeing a trailer for this George Clooney-starred drama. Whether that pure exposure translates into box office is an entirely different story, but there's no question that the marketing for this has been good. However, it's going to come down to the question of whether the actual movie is good. May is an incredibly crowded month, and unless Money Monster truly rocks the critical world, the buzz could deflate significantly.
THE DARKNESS- May 13
Opening Weekend Prediction- $7.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $18 million
Did anybody know that this movie was coming out? I certainly didn't. I saw a trailer for The Darkness in front of......well, I don't really remember. It might have been The Witch, I dunno. This movie doesn't look awful, but let's be real here, it probably will be. Most audiences are going to hold over for The Conjuring 2 in June- horror fans are much more discerning these days. With a light marketing push, The Darkness will practically vanish.
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE- May 20
Opening Weekend Prediction- $36 million
Total Gross Prediction- $95 million
I've been thinking about The Angry Birds Movie quite a bit in recent weeks. Could it be good? Are we underestimating the potential for this movie? Is a possible LEGO Movie scenario in the cards? It may be too early to tell, but beyond the weird little piss gag that they did towards the end of the second trailer, the marketing for this hasn't been awful. Unfortunately, Sony is left in an awful spot. While Angry Birds was a big deal back in 2012, it has completely faded from pop culture influence. Nobody plays Angry Birds anymore. Kids don't know what it is. Adults don't care. The audience for this movie just doesn't exist. Kids movies usually do really well, but with a lot of competition, Sony could suffer another major blow here.
THE NICE GUYS- May 20
Opening Weekend Prediction- $22 million
Total Gross Prediction- $70 million
Shane Black's The Nice Guys is one of my most anticipated movies of the summer, and if this movie is as good as it looks, I really hope that audiences embrace it. Thankfully, this L.A.-set noir comedy has two advantages- it has major studio distribution and it stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. With a terrific marketing campaign so far, there's quite a bit of interest in The Nice Guys. The trailers have been pulpy and flashy, with added emphasis on the chemistry between Gosling and Crowe. If any movie has the potential to break out this summer, this is it.
NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING- May 20
Opening Weekend Prediction- $47 million
Total Gross Prediction- $130 million
Neighbors is a great comedy and it was also a movie that generated a lot of excitement when it first came out back in 2014. People in my school were psyched for Neighbors, and so far, I can't say that I'm feeling that same anticipation for the sequel, Sorority Rising. So with that said, I think it's safe to say that we're not looking at a 22 Jump Street scenario here. Instead, Neighbors 2 will probably fall just below the original and still effectively work as a solid cash cow for Universal.
ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS- May 27
Four-Day Opening Weekend Prediction- $55 million
Total Gross Prediction- $120 million
Nobody in the entire world asked for this sequel, but alas, Disney's giving us one anyways. Alice Through the Looking Glass looks like another CGI-heavy adventure into the world of Wonderland, accompanied by trippy images of The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Father Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), and more. Muppets director James Bobin is behind the camera this time around, stepping in for Tim Burton. While Alice in Wonderland was a massive smash hit at the box office back in 2010, this long-delayed sequel will not see nearly the same success. Burton's film came in the immediate aftermath of Avatar, when 3D movies were all the rage. Through the Looking Glass doesn't have that luxury, and in addition to that, competition from Apocalypse will be a major problem.
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE- May 27
Four-Day Opening Weekend Prediction- $95 million
Total Gross Prediction- $240 million
Just like some of summer 2016's other sequels, X-Men: Apocalypse is suffering from a lack of excitement right now. Days of Future Past was the best film yet in the X-Men series, but without Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and some of the other original members of the franchise, Apocalypse is back to where First Class was standing a few years ago. However, despite a lack of online buzz, Fox is very confident in this movie. Reviews are hitting next week, nearly two weeks before the movie's actual release date. That is always a huge sign of confidence, and if Apocalypse is that good, the buzz will carry it to the finish line.
POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING- June 3
Opening Weekend Prediction- $15.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $50 million
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is one of the smaller movies that I'm really looking forward to this summer, and it's one that definitely has some sleeper hit potential. The first movie officially billed as a Lonely Island team-up, Popstar could be my generation's version of This is Spinal Tap. And if that doesn't sell you on this movie, absolutely nothing will. With a great trailer and hopefully positive reviews, there's a good chance that Popstar does some decent business.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS- June 3
Opening Weekend Prediction- $70 million
Total Gross Prediction- $225 million
There is an audience out there for these movies. I don't know who that audience is. I don't know why they hate themselves. But the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made money and lots of it. And for most people, it was a perfectly satisfying film. Out of the Shadows has a prime early June release date and it will probably expand on the original film's success. Yippee.
ME BEFORE YOU- June 3
Opening Weekend Prediction- $26 million
Total Gross Prediction- $78 million
Me Before You is essentially this summer's version of The Fault in Our Stars, and judging by the social media buzz for this movie, there is major potential for a breakout hit. The source material isn't as notorious as John Green's novel was back in 2012, but nonetheless, it still fits into that sort of weepy, quirky space that TFIOS operated in. Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin aren't big stars, and yet, thanks to a solid marketing campaign, I believe that this movie will do decent business.
WARCRAFT- June 10
Opening Weekend Prediction- $32 million
Total Gross Prediction- $85 million
Warcraft looks awful. At this point, there's very little that Universal and Legendary Pictures can do to convince me otherwise. The first trailer made the film out to be a goofy, overly serious mess, filled to the brim with cheap-looking CGI. And even after several other TV spots and trailers have hit the web, I still don't know what this movie is about or why I should care. Warcraft is supposed to be Universal's big summer franchise-starter, but if the rest of the world feels the same way I do, it's not looking good for the studio.
NOW YOU SEE ME 2- June 10
Opening Weekend Prediction- $40 million
Total Gross Prediction- $110 million
Now You See Me was a complete surprise back in 2013, but admittedly, it was an excellent one. I know a lot of people today who still love that movie and the idea of a sequel is a no-brainer. Adding Daniel Radcliffe to the mix is a stroke of genius, and while enough brand loyalty to the magician idea, Now You See Me 2 could end up improving on its predecessor. It's not a surefire bet, but everything is pointing to a successful rune in mid-June.
THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST- June 10
Opening Weekend Prediction- $55 million
Total Gross Prediction- $140 million
The Conjuring was another summer 2013 smash hit, grossing $137 million from a mid-July release date. And to add to the brand, Annabelle grossed $84.2 million in 2014. There hasn't been a big horror film in a while, and in my mind, I think that a lot of the genre fans and teenagers are holding their money out for The Conjuring 2. Trailers have pitched another scary and intense journey, and considering how beloved the original is, there's no reason that The Enfield Poltergeist can't become a summer 2016 breakout hit.
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE- June 17
Opening Weekend Prediction- $48 million
Total Gross Prediction- $120 million
People like Kevin Hart. People like Dwayne Johnson. This one is an obvious win. Mixing together the two stars with Dodgeball director Rawson Marshall Thurber, this CIA comedy will likely play out in a very similar way to 2014's Ride Along. Granted, the Ice Cube-Kevin Hart vehicle debuted in early January with very little competition, but the similarities are endless. Funny trailer, PG-13 rating, mismatched duo- the numbers add up. Central Intelligence is a surefire success.
FINDING DORY- June 17
Opening Weekend Prediction- $100 million
Total Gross Prediction- $415 million
One of the few guarantees of summer 2016, Finding Dory is a sequel to the Pixar movie that everybody seems to love more than I do. Unless director Andrew Stanton drops the ball and delivers a total misfire, Finding Dory is assured to be one of Pixar's highest grossing films. People have been waiting for this movie since I was in elementary school and there's no doubt in my mind that a broad range of people will be coming out to see this one. $400 million+ is certainly in the realm of possibility.
FREE STATE OF JONES- June 24
Opening Weekend Prediction- $10.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $43 million
This one feels like a throwback to the days where movies like The Patriot and Braveheart dominated the summer frame, and I mean that as a compliment. The trailer for Free State of Jones is really quite excellent, blending the star power of Matthew McConaughey with some terrific action beats. This could be great summer counter-programming for adults and because of that, we could see a breakout hit here.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE- June 24
Opening Weekend Prediction- $80 million
Total Gross Prediction- $245 million
Independence Day: Resurgence is the much-delayed sequel to one of the most beloved summer movies of all time. I personally think that this movie looks like a lot of fun, but there's still a lot of uncertainty surrounding this film. Roland Emmerich hasn't truly had a bona fide success since 2012, and without Will Smith, we could see some people stay home and skip this sequel. However, it polled very well in Fandango's Fanticipation Poll and there's always a chance that the Jurassic World effect comes into play. Resurgence will certainly be a hit, but as of right now, it's just a matter of how high it'll soar.
THE SHALLOWS- June 29
Five-Day Opening Weekend Prediction- $18.9 million
Total Gross Prediction- $46 million
The Shallows is being positioned as the next Jaws, and although there's absolutely no chance of that happening, there's still a lot to be intrigued by with this movie. Blake Lively isn't a major movie star, but the concept of one woman being stuck on an island to fight a mega-shark is a very pulpy and summer-y idea. It's coming out during a crowded frame, but if it's good, I have a feeling that it'll carve out its own little niche.
That's it for Part 1 of my Summer Box Office Predictions. Come back in late June for Part 2!