Wednesday, April 10, 2019

In Laman's Terms: Summer 2019 Box Office Predictions (Part One)

In Laman's Terms is a weekly editorial column where Douglas Laman rambles on about certain topics or ideas that have been on his mind lately. Sometimes he's got serious subjects to discuss, other times he's just got some silly stuff to shoot the breeze about. Either way, you know he's gonna talk about something In Laman's Terms!

Here we are again. It is time for another summer moviegoing season, which means it's time for yours truly to deliver their annual summer box office predictions. This is an annual two-part column that begins with me predicting the top ten biggest movies of the summer at the domestic box office and ends with a second part seeing me analyzing the box office prospects of every wide release on the docket for release in the summer of 2019.

Let's begin this exercise with my projected top ten movies of summer 2019...

1) Avengers: Endgame
We've all read the endless news reports on how well Avengers: Endgame ticket sales have sold, we've all seen the gargantuan box office tracking, clearly, it's not a question of whether Avengers: Endgame is huge but just how huge this movie is. Right now, it's looking like Avengers: Infinity War will indeed relinquish the title of biggest domestic opening weekend (currently $258 million) just one year after earning it, How much higher does Endgame go? At this point, it kinda feels like the sky is the limit to such a degree that a $300 million opening weekend, normally a preposterous proposition, feels like it could actually happen here. Right now, I'll say it opens slightly below that and proceeds to have worse legs than Infinity War due to more early May competition and more people rushing out to see it right away but Endgame is going to end up being the biggest movie of summer 2019 by a considerable margin.

Opening Weekend: $288 million
Total Domestic Gross: $680 million
2) The Lion King
If that newest trailer for The Lion King becoming an instant viral sensation proves anything, it's that, despite dumbo flopping, a live-action Disney remake that people actually want to see can still drum up major interest from moviegoers. So far, Disney's been pretty much spot-on with their marketing, particularly in launching the trailers during certain events (Thanksgiving football games and the Academy Awards most notably) and providing imagery that reinforces the sense of grandeur audiences associate with the original film. At the very least, The Lion King should be able to match the domestic box office performance of Beauty and the Beast but it going noticeably higher wouldn't shock me in the slightest.

Opening Weekend: $170 million
Total Domestic Gross: $520 million
3) Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
Here comes our first video game movie to achieve true blue blockbuster box office. We've only had three video games movie cross $100 million domestically in their entire box office runs but I'm wagering Detective Pikachu can manage to become the biggest video game movie of all-time domestically after just one weekend. After all, this movie isn't just the adaptation of a video game, it's an adaptation of a massive media franchise that spans trading cards, TV shows, animated movies and everything in between. Everybody knows what Pokemon are and they've been waiting for a live-action movie for years. That kind of pent-up demand is how you end up with one of the biggest movies of all-time.

Opening Weekend: $140 million
Total Domestic Gross: $435 million
4) Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Homecoming was a widely liked movie and the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Spider-Man has only gotten more popular after a memorable appearance in Avengers: Infinity War. Appearing in an Avengers movie certainly helped post-Avengers solo movies starring Iron Man, Thor and Captain America to beat out the domestic box office hauls of their pre-Avengers predecessors and it wouldn't be shocking to see a similar occurrence happen here. Iron Man 3's $174 million bow was a 35% increase from the opening of its predecessor while The Winter Soldier saw a 47% increase from the opening weekend of the original Captain America movie. Far From Home will likely have a slightly smaller increase from the opening weekend of its predecessor than either of those two, but I'll still say it goes up 22% from the opening weekend of Homecoming to score one of the biggest openings of the summer.

Opening Weekend: $142 million
Total Domestic Gross: $415 million
5) The Secret Life of Pets 2
That first Secret Life of Pets movie already cracked $100 million on opening weekend and $360 million in its entire domestic run, so it's unlikely this sequel will have a massive increase from its predecessor like Despicable Me 2 did. The arrival of Toy Story 4 two weeks into its run will also hinder it a touch but that's about all the bad news on the horizon for The Secret Life of Pets 2. A summertime Illumination title is as close to a guaranteed money maker as you can get and The Secret Life of Pets 2 should continue that trend with a massive box office run that could very likely make this title the biggest Illumination film ever at the domestic box office.

Opening Weekend: $125 million
Total Domestic Gross: $400 million
6) Toy Story 4
This has been the decade of sequels for PIXAR and they've got one more to release before the decade wraps up. That final sequel is Toy Story 4, and though it's been nine years since its predecessor, that's nowhere near as long as the thirteen and fourteen year waits that Finding Dory and Incredibles 2, respectively, were coming off of. Whereas those two were long-awaited follow-ups to beloved animated movies, Toy Story 4, at least right now, feels more like a conventional animated movie sequel, just another entry in a long-running series. The Toy Story brand name and Disney marketing machine will ensure this one still makes a solid chunk of change but I'd be shocked if it made more than Toy Story 3.

Opening Weekend: $104 million
Total Domestic Gross: $350 million
7) Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
The Fate of the Furious took the Fast & Furious franchise back to a more standard but still strong domestic box office performance after the gargantuan box office haul of Furious 7. Hobbs & Shaw, the first ever spin-off in the series, seems poised to brings the series back to the $300+ million domestic box office mark. This one doesn't just have less competition to face than Fate of the Furious, it's being released in August, a time period where blockbusters can do as much as 3.5 times their opening weekend (even The Dark Tower did 2.65 times it's opening weekend in August 2017). Combine that with early marketing that makes it look like a spectacle-driven crowdpleaser and it seems like Hobbs & Shaw is poised to be a big hit for all involved.

Opening Weekend: $107 million
Total Domestic Gross: $315 million
8) Godzilla: King of the Monsters
The newest entry in the MonsterVerse will likely end up faring much better than usual sequels to divisive summer blockbusters. All of the marketing for Godzilla: King of the Monsters has emphasized elements, namely massive monster fight scenes, that its predecessor was criticized for lacking. It's doubtful King of the Monster can reach the $93 million bow of the 2014 Godzilla movie, but it won't be far off. Kong: Skull Island (another film in this MonsterVerse) opened to $61 million in 2017, let's say King of the Monsters ends up almost exactly between the opening weekends of those two films.

Opening Weekend: $79 million
Total Domestic Gross: $205 million
9) Rocketman
If there's any non-blockbuster poised to do big blockbuster level domestic box office this summer, it's Rocketman. This Elton John biopic is coming hot off the heels of fellow music biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which has whetted the public's appetite for this genre. Even without the help of Bohemian Rhapsody though, the massive popularity of Elton John's music was always going to be enough to help this one score big at the box office while the lack of direct competition in June 2019 will help it stick around for a good long while.

Opening Weekend: $48 million
Total Domestic Gross: $165 million

10) Aladdin
I truly do not know how Aladdin will fare this summer. Live-action Disney remakes have a strong box office track record but Dumbo, Christopher Robin and Alice Through the Looking Glass prove that this subgenre isn't foolproof. This is based on a more recent animated Disney movie, so the Aladdin brand should be more alluring to youngsters than Dumbo, but that has the downside of audiences being super connected to the still fresh Robin Williams Genie performance. And then there's the fact that Disney's Memorial Day releases over the last decade have been major box office duds, not to mention that opening in between Detective Pikachu and The Secret Life of Pets 2 feels like it'll hurt its chances of appealing to family audiences. The odds aren't looking great for Aladdin but it feels like the Disney marketing machine and the recent major box office drawn up by live-action musicals are factors that could get this one narrowly into the top ten biggest movies of summer 2019.

Opening Weekend: $62 million
Total Domestic Gross: $160 million

Come back next Wednesday for the second part of the Summer 2019 Box Office Predictions!

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