It's that time of year again. Summer blockbuster season is officially upon us with the release of "Iron Man 3" - technically "Iron Man Three," but it looks silly spelled out like that. Anyway, the various entertainment websites have been writing out their summer movie guides, and making up lists of most anticipated movies, and potential bombs. A popular feature in recent years have been the friendly bets on hat the top ten moneymakers will be and how much they'll earn. I'm traditionally terrible at predicting the box office, and I'm not keen on writing out another list of movies that I'm looking forward to - this year there aren't many - but I still want in on the fun. So I'm going to make some general predictions for how some of the more prominent titles are going to perform this summer.
The Winners? - This category isn't too hard to work out. Your big tentpole franchise movies like "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Monsters University," "Despicable Me 2," and probably "Man of Steel" are the best bets for who is going to be on the top of the heap. I'm guessing that all the kids' films like "Planes," "Turbo," and "Smurfs 2" will also do fine. I'm much more doubtful about the prospects of high numbered sequels like "The Hangover, Part III" and "Fast Six," but audiences came out for the previous installments, and that's a good indication that they'll keep coming. On the comedy front, the ones that look the most promising to me are "This is the End," "The Heat," and "The Internship," which all feature interesting ensembles and concepts.
The Bombs? - Now on the flip side we have the potential losers. There's always a high profile film or two that goes down hard every summer. The likeliest titles this year to meet that ugly fate are the ones we know have had production troubles - Disney's "The Lone Ranger," and Paramount's "World War Z." These films are going to have to be blockbuster hits in order to make all their money back, and there's a substantial risk that this is not going to happen. Still, you've got Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheim on "The Lone Ranger" and Brad Pitt and zombies on the other, so both movies have plenty of appeal. The advertising has been good and we might very well see them win at the box office in the end. Other movies I can see as potential bombs are "After Earth," despite the involvement of box office king Will Smith, "White House Down," which may suffer because it came so soon after "Olympus Has Fallen," and the iffy-looking animated film "Epic," which may end up crushed by everything else opening in May and June.
The Underperformers? - If you take into account what the sequel trends were last year, I'm guessing that we're going to see a lot of franchise films that will break even, but are going to do less robust business than the previous installments that got them greenlit. On the top of the list is "The Wolverine," which follows that widely disliked "Wolverine," and has a very lackluster ad campaign. The marketing for recent "X-men" movies has been notably underwhelming, so the movie could actually be perfectly good, but it looks very subpar right now. Then you have all the other sequels and prequels where you can't help wondering why they exist at all: "Kick-Ass 2," "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," and "300: Rise of an Empire." Finally, there's "Grown Ups 2," the kind of Adam Sandler vehicle that used to be a reliable crowd-pleaser, but Sandler's fortunes have been taking a turn for the worse lately, and audiences may be getting tired of his schtick.
The Underdogs? - There are a couple of original films that aren't getting as much attention as the franchises, but are probably worth keeping an eye on because of the talent involved. These are the films that , if they're going to do well, are going to do well based on word of mouth and good reviews. Neil Blomkamp's "Elysium," is his follow-up to "District 9," and looks just as intriguing. Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim," with its giant monsters and battle armor may skew a little niche, but there's the intriguing potential here for a giant robot movie finally done right. "The World's End" is stuck with a late release date and having to follow the other apocalypse comedy, "This is the End." However, it pairs up director Edgar Wright with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost again, and that combination has always been solid. Finally, there's the animated film that almost feels like an afterthought, PIXAR's "Planes." It was a surprise that this one got a theatrical release at all, and I wonder if it might surprise again and clean up at the box office.
The Wild Cards? - I really have no idea how people are going to react to "The Great Gatsby," a film that was supposed to be a Christmas prestige pic, but got delayed to a May spot that a lot of major bombs have occupied. On the other hand, it could be perfect Mother's Day counter-programming, and Leonardo DiCaprio still has plenty of shine. "R.I.P.D." got its trailer out late, and looks like "MIB" with the undead. It's going head to head with "RED 2," and I'm honestly not sure which is going to come out ahead. Also I don't know how if audiences are going to buy into "Now You See Me," a high tech caper with magicians, or "2 Guns," the buddy crime flick with Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington.