2017 Summer Box Office Movie Preview
Every summer for the last five years I’ve taken part in a summer box office draft for my podcast ‘The Redbox Report’ where the participants take a look at the summer slate of movies and try to weigh budget against potential worldwide earnings before making their selections. In order for a film to be profitable it needs to make at least twice as much as the reported budget so to determine a winner we take each blockbuster’s combined domestic and international gross and subtract it by the budget multiplied by two. To make it harder we also try to account for the quality of the movies in question and multiply the profit (if there is any) by the Rotten Tomatoes score that critics gave the films. Its a fun exercise akin to a fantasy baseball draft and is a way to get you more invested in the movie season when most people are going to the theaters. Theres even a Fantasy Movie League started by fantasy sports guru Matthew Berry that can be found online or in an app store near you. So to get you prepared for your own summer box office draft or more realistically to get you ready for whats to come this summer, lets take a look at all the big releases over the next three or four months. I’ll give my overall thoughts on each movie and try to predict the budgets, worldwide gross, and Rotten Tomatoes score to see how much I’ve learned from years of trying to do this. Without further ado…
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
Most people, including me, don’t have to wait long to get a chance to see their most anticipated movie of the summer. Marvel yet again kicks off the summer movie season, this time with the sequel to their surprise mega hit from 2014 ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. Part one of Chris Pratt becoming a bonafide movie star (part two being ‘Jurassic World’) made over $750 million on a $170 million budget, riding the critical wave and great word of mouth to become one of the biggest films of that summer. It’s still my favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe blending humor, action, great sci-fi ideas and visuals. Replaying constantly on FX the positive buzz for this franchise has only gotten bigger. They’ve added Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone to the case, already announced ‘Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3’, and I fully expect vol. 2 to set a great pace for the rest of the summer movies to live up to.
Predicted Budget: $200 million Predicted Box Office: $1 billion Predicted RT Score: 94%
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
If you ever wanted to see what it would look like if you took the King Arthur story and combined it with the sensibilities of FX’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ this movie is for you. Guy Ritchie, director of ‘Snatch’, the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, and 2015’s ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’, tries to do something different and add his stamp to a story that has been told many times. I thought the trailer looked terrible and its not a movie that looks appealing to me but I have enjoyed Ritchie’s films in the past so I’ll try to keep an open mind. But I won’t be making the trek to the theater for it. Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana, and Djimon Hounsou star. I’m sure it will make some money but I’m thinking it will be buried by ‘Guardians’ in its second weekend.
Predicted Budget: $100 million Predicted Box Office: $400 million Predicted RT Score: 47%
The first real contender to knock ‘Guardians’ out of the top spot at the box office, ‘Covenant’ is half a sequel to 2012’s ‘Prometheus’ and half a rebooted attempt at an ‘Alien’ prequel. ‘Prometheus’ is considered a disappointment but it still made $400 million worldwide on a $130 million budget so it was profitable. It had a $51 million opening weekend and if ‘Covenant’ repeats that it should be a tight race in ‘Guardians’ third weekend. Michael Fassbender returns but the main crew is an all new cast including Katherine Waterston, Guy Pearce, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Billy Crudup. I feel like ‘Prometheus’ is underrated and actually pretty good. The trailers for this one look good I just hope they don’t try to over-correct too much.
Predicted Budget: $150 million Predicted Box Office: $425 million Predicted RT Score: 82%
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales
Yet another ‘Pirates’ movie. This is the fifth installment and the first one since 2011’s ‘On Stranger Tides’. In my opinion the series hasn’t been good since the first one, ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’, which was great. They’ve only gotten worse each time out. Bloated, going back to the same ideas over and over again, gradually turning Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow from a quirky, fun supporting character into the leading man. But they keep making boatloads (yep, I went there) of money. Even though they keep making less money domestically ever since the second one, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’, they consistently end their run at around $1 billion worldwide. I’d like to say Depp’s personal and legal woes will impact its box office intake in some way but that most likely will not be the case. I have no interest in this franchise anymore but its obvious a whole lot of people still do.
Predicted Budget: $250 million Predicted Box Office: $1 billion Predicted RT Score: 54%
At first glance a movie version of the cheesy 90’s TV show ‘Baywatch’ sounds like a terrible idea. Beach lifeguards with great bodies chasing criminals and solving mysteries without much hint of irony is an insane premise but hey, Pamela Anderson running around in a swimsuit! But once I saw the first trailer for this reboot I was immediately optimistic. It appears they’re giving this the ’21 Jump Street’ treatment and turning it into a pure comedy, leaning into what made the source material easy to make fun of. Those movies are hilarious so I think thats about as good a way of going about it as there is. Add Duane ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Zac Efron as leads, two guys with tons of charisma and underrated comedic chops, and Alexandra Daddario, probably best known for her nude scene in season one of ‘True Detective’, and now you’re talking. Theres always at least one summer comedy that lands with audiences and my bet is that ‘Baywatch’ is the one for 2017.
Predicted Budget: $50 million Predicted Box Office: $300 million Predicted RT Score: 77%
Warner Brothers and the DCEU have been making money with their three movies since 2013’s ‘Man of Steel’ but not as much as you would expect from a giant superhero franchise, especially last year’s ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ which features the two most well known caped crusaders in the business. Thats the movie where Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman made her debut. She certainly looks the part and could be argued that she was the best thing about that movie, brief as her appearance was. As WB tries to continue their fast forward in an attempt to catch up with Marvel they’re giving her an origin story before ‘Justice League’ opens later this year. Trailers show a Captain America style movie long flashback except its taking place in World War I as opposed to WWII. It looks good visually and has Chris Pine who is always solid but I’m in wait and see mode until WB can prove they’re capable of making a good superhero movie under Zack Snyder’s supervision. I’m expecting it to do well though.
Predicted Budget: $130 million Predicted Box Office: $550 million Predicted RT Score: 69%
How do you bring back an old franchise that was biggest around the millennium and hasn’t released an installment in nine years while also taking it to the next level? Why, Tom Cruise of course! Better than that why not try to make it a supernatural iteration of a Mission Impossible film. That appears to be whats going on here and I have to say that is more interesting to me than the original series. I just never got into them. All three of the Brendan Frasier led movies topped out at around $400 million worldwide and the question becomes how much does Cruise add to that. And is there any life left in the ‘Mummy’ name. As big as a movie star as Tom Cruise is hes not a guy that has single handily brought about a films financial success. At least not on a massive scale. If anything hes proven hes a guy who picks quality projects to be apart of. ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ comes to mind as a truly great action movie but disappointed at the box office. I’m guessing ‘The Mummy’ will be surprisingly well reviewed but stagnate right around that $400 million level.
Predicted Budget: $150 million Predicted Box Office: $400 million Predicted RT Score: 75%
This is a pick I have seen out there for biggest movie of the summer and that makes sense from a certain standpoint. Pixar has been on a roll with ‘Finding Dory’ and ‘Inside Out’ being big successes the last couple years. Add in that this is a sequel to an already well established series and that usually bodes well or an increase in ticket sales. But the track record (I’m doing it again…) for the ‘Cars’ series just isn’t there for me to see that happen. The beautiful animation that Pixar creates are expensive to make. This is going to cost at least $200 million and the increase from ‘Cars’ to ‘Cars 2’ was only $100 million worldwide, from $462 million to $562 million. And its not a beloved franchise outside of very young kids. They’re some of the worst reviewed Pixar films to date and while the trailer that I saw for this makes it look like its going in a different, slightly darker direction I’m not sure how its going to translate. If it does end up at or near the very top of the list come the end of summer then it’ll be hard for me to ever question Pixar’s drawing power again.
Predicted Budget: $200 million Predicted Box Office: $700 million Predicted RT Score: 66%
Transformers: The Last Knight
The ‘Transformers’ franchise has to be the most perplexing to me as far as sustained success. While ‘The Fast and Furious’ is another one I don’t fully understand I’ve at least enjoyed those movies to some extent for what they are. I felt similarly about the first ‘Transformers’ but the three that have been released since then have been utter garbage. And they’ve made more and more worldwide, the last two crossing $1.1 billion. Weightless CGI creations flooding the screen and fighting other weightless CGI creations while the most one note, poorly written human characters pretend to have an impact on the story. This looks like more of the same. And it looks like I should just get used to it because there are already two or three more of these in production. I understand people enjoying mindless action sometimes but there are certainly better examples of that out there than these movies.
Predicted Budget: $250 million Predicted Box Office: $1 billion Predicted RT Score: 34%
Despicable Me 3
If you’re looking for an animated movie to place your money on for box office success, at least compared to its budget, this is the one I’d recommend. The ‘Despicable Me’ franchise has grown exponentially from $550 million to $970 million to $1.1 billion if you include the spin-off ‘Minions’ from 2015. And the budgets haven’t been higher than $75 million, much cheaper than what Pixar is doing. Of course they’re not as good and you can tell they’re cheaper visually but the kids dragging their parents to these things clearly don’t mind. I didn’t like ‘Minions’ much at all but the ‘Despicable Me’ movies aren’t bad and the trailer for this one looks entertaining. I’ll surely be seeing it with my kids in early July as I’m sure countless other parents will be. Gru and company will be a fixture in our lives for quite some time.
Predicted Budget: $75 million Predicted Box Office: $1 billion Predicted RT Score: 73%
While ‘Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2’ is my most anticipated movie of the summer, July is my most anticipated month. Three weeks in a row here we get a movie that would land on my top five most anticipated and the latest Spider-Man reboot is right up there. After almost stealing the show with his cameo in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ last summer Tom Holland’s Spider-Man gets his own vehicle as Marvel and Sony continue their deal to try and make the most of their most popular character. Robert Downey Jr. makes an appearance here as Tony Stark/Iron Man but its unclear how important his role is. They’re really playing it up in the advertising but I think the movie is going to focus on Peter Parker dealing with high school issues as much as he does with Michael Keaton’s Vulture villain. The other attempts Sony made for a Spider-Man franchise were never a bust but also never took the character to the next level. A coming of age superhero tale might be just what the doctor ordered.
Predicted Budget: $200 million Predicted Box Office: $800 million Predicted RT Score: 89%
War for the Planet of the Apes
The latest ‘Planet of the Apes’ series of films look to become a sleeper for great movie trilogies. After the mess that was Tim Burton’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ reboot starring Mark Wahlberg in 2001 you could’ve knocked me over with a feather if you said I’d love 2011’s ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ starring James Franco. But that I did. Instead of making another movie focused on what it would look like after apes took over the planet they decided to tell the story of what led up to that point. Andy Serkis as Caesar really gave audiences a protagonist to root for. And the sequel ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ took it to the next level making it difficult to decide whether you want to see your fellow humans survive or ape characters you’ve grown to love thrive. The end of the trilogy brings in Woody Harrelson as villain, at least to Caesar and company, as the last vestige of humanities survival. These movies have done well financially as well increasing from $480 million to $700 million worldwide. ‘War’ looks to continue that trend.
Predicted Budget: $175 million Predicted Box Office: $750 million Predicted RT Score: 86%
Director Christopher Nolan is one of the rare filmmakers in today’s day and age that can sell a movie on his name alone. There have been plenty of directors over the past decade who have made franchise movies that did incredibly well financially but Nolan is the only I can think of that used that to catapult his career and turn his original properties into blockbusters. ‘The Dark Knight’ is probably the best regarded superhero movie of all time and he followed that up with ‘Inception’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, and ‘Interstellar’ all of which made no less than $675 million worldwide. ‘Dunkirk’ is a chance for him to cement his legacy as the next Steven Spielberg. A World War II movie starring Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Mark Rylance about allied forces trapped on an island and their attempt at evacuation. The trailers and the confident release date in the heart of the summer leave me confident that Nolan will keep his perfect record as far as movies that hes made that I would recommend. This could also be a rare summer movie that could be brought up when it comes to award recognition at the end of the year.
Predicted Budget: $150 million Predicted Box Office: $600 million Predicted RT Score: 91%
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
I’m not completely sure what this movie is about but I know there were a lot of people buzzing about it after the first trailer came out. To me it looked like a convoluted CGI fest with some interesting sci-fi ideas but the praise was so strong from certain corners that it made me take notice when it would’ve otherwise been forgettable. In the future Dane DeHaan and the villain from ‘Suicide Squad’ play special operatives trying to help maintain order between the human territories. Despite the vocal minority anticipating it this feels like a box office bomb to me. It looks expensive and I haven’t seen much marketing for it. Maybe I’m missing it or its yet to come but I get a ‘Jupiter Ascending’ feeling from it which was a very bad expensive movie that bombed a couple years ago. I like DeHaan and I’m always rooting for new sci-fi properties to succeed but obviously I’m not very optimistic.
Predicted Budget: $150 million Predicted Box Office: $275 million Predicted RT Score: 62%
The Emoji Movie
Speaking of not optimistic… First we had comic book movies, then we had movies based off board games, even popular mobile games are getting the movie treatment. But now we get a film based off the various smiley faces that old people and kids use to communicate. Thats an exaggeration of course, a lot of people use emoji, but there is so little to work from. Maybe that leads to brilliant creativity a la ‘The Lego Movie’ but that has to be the exception in Hollywood where they’re trying to exploit the things we love to make a quick buck. TJ Miller plays an emoji who can do multiple expressions and all he wants is to be a normal emoji with one fixed expression. I can see the moral of the story already. Anna Faris, Patrick Stewart, and Sofia Vergara also voice characters in the film. ‘The Angry Birds’ movie from last summer seems like a great comparison here which did OK at the box office but not enough to put the world on notice. With some stiff competition in the kids market this year I can’t see this doing much better.
Predicted Budget: $75 million Predicted Box Office: $300 million Predicted RT Score: 45%
The Dark Tower
I’ve never read Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ books but I’ve heard a lot about them, all positive. Just reading the synopsis from IMDB: “The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, roams an Old West-like landscape where “the world has moved on” in pursuit of the man in black.” That sounds like it has a few things in common with HBO’s ‘Westworld’ which is a show I loved the first season of. I’m sure there’s more to it than that but with Idris Elba playing Roland and Matthew McConaughey playing The Man in Black I’m interested already. I know at some point this was planned to be split between a movie series and HBO series to tell the story but I’m not sure if thats still in the works or not. The early August release date could either work for it or against depending on how it opens. July is stacked and could make it get lost in the crowd but there is nothing else really of note in August so it could have legs with not much new competition. Probably the movie I’m most curious about and I’m sure fans of the books are even more so.
Predicted Budget: $60 million Predicted Box Office: $250 million Predicted RT Score: 81%
My Top 5 Most Anticipated Movie of Summer 2017
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
War for the Planet of the Apes
An auxiliary member of the MMAJA, Bob used to run the baseball blog 'The Oriole Report' before transitioning to podcasting about movies, TV, Video Games, and MMA. 'The Redbox Report' movie podcast was started in 2013 followed by 'The Redbelt Report' MMA podcast in 2016. In 2018 they were merged into 'Phelan to Communicate', a podcast that can be found on iTunes and a blog that can be found at http://PhelanToCommunicate.wordpress.com. Bob has also written for Konsume.com and BaltimoreSportsReport.com and delivers mail for a living in Baltimore County. Follow him on Twitter @PhelanToTweet.