Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday Best: Summer Box Office Predictions 2021

 I know I am late on this, but I wanted to throw my hat into the ring with predictions for this year's summer box office.

With things getting back to normal, a question that everyone in the movie business is asking:

Will people go back to the movies?

Most people have not been in a theater in over a year.  At this point, will people return for the theater experience.

And the summer box office is when the biggest blockbusters tend to be released.  I always enjoyed trying my hand at predicting what would be the big winners.

In 2016, I got 6 out of 10 right.  By 2017, I improved to 8 out of 10. 2018 was my best year, where I made it to 9 out of 10 and my order of highest grossers was even more accurate.  2019 I did great with the top 7, but the bottom three I had all wrong.  I didn't do it last year because of the pandemic.

I am not that confident about this year's list, but I am going to give it a try.  This year, I'm betting big on a desire to return to normalcy and people wanting to return to things that are familiar.

1.  Black Widow

In the last 10 years, 5 Marvel movies have been the top Summer movies at the box office.  Black Widow has the advantage of being the first major Marvel release in years and it is a flashback into Phase 3.  The trailers look fun and I don't think people are ready to jump off the Marvel train just yet.

2.  F9

F9 film poster.jpg

Fate of the Furious had a steep drop off in box office from the 7th movie, but it was still a big hit.  This is a two-decade-old franchise that has brought in more money than I think people ever dreamed it could.  Rather than its age being a detriment, in a post-COVID world, it could actually be a plus, where people want to return to things they know and grew up with.

3.  A Quiet Place Part II
A Quiet Place Part II.jpg

This is a movie where the first did well at the box office but only gained more esteem when people discovered it on home video.  As a PG-13 horror movie, it can bring in a younger audience than a lot of the R-Rated fare.  The studios have also been really pushing for the idea that this is a theatrical experience to be had.

4.  Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

Hotel Transylvania Transformania poster.jpg

I always bet big on kids movies.  This franchise has been plugging away for a long time and this could be a big draw for families looking for an escapist theater experience.

5.  Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise - theatrical poster.png

I'm reckoning that this will have a similar box office to the Jumanji sequels.  Dwayne Johnson is one of the last stars that can draw a box office.  And with Disney marketing, I expect a big push for this as an adventure that will be for the whole family, especially for those who have kids two little for Marvel movies.

6. In the Heights
In The Heights teaser poster.jpg

This is one of my wild cards that I'm taking a big bet on.  The people I know who are anticipating this movie are incredibly intense about it.  Hamilton is a massive hit in the popular culture and this has been heavily pushed as Lin Manuel Miranda property.  And people want to be uplifted with a feel-good musical.  The two big drawbacks are that it will simultaneously be on HBO Max and I get the feeling that they are going to touching on some hot-button political issues, which may turn off a huge percentage of the movie-going public.

7.  The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
The Conjuring - The Devil Made Me Do It.png

These mid-budget films make big-budget numbers.  I was actually incredibly surprised at how well this franchise is doing in terms of ticket sales.  Like In the Heights it will premiere on HBO Max, but it also might make a big appeal to the teen demographic looking for a good horror movie that isn't R-rated.

8.  Space Jam: A New Legacy

I don't think that LeBron James is as popular as Michael Jordan, which is why this movie is lower on the list.  But this movie looks like Warner Bros. is pulling out all the stops and putting all of its IP into this film.  So you know that they are going to push this movie as THE sports film/kids movie that EVERYONE will want to see.  Again, this will be an HBO Max release too so this may hurt the box office.  We will also see if any of the controversy over the film (e.g. Pepe LePew and the Droogs) or James himself will have any affect on getting people into the theater.

9.  Free Guy

Free Guy Theatrical First Poster.jpg
This is also one of my wild card picks.  I'm thinking this is going to be pushed like a PG-13 Deadpool.  It will have the same kind of tones, but set in a video game world where the violence can be toned down.  This one is going to depend, I think, on the buzz from the early screenings.  If the buzz is good then I think the audience is going to come.

10.  Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins
Snake Eyes - G.I. Joe Origins, official poster.png

While people pan the first two GI Joe movies, they actually made hundreds of millions of dollars.  I'm waiting on a trailer, but this might just click.  While the producers have noodled a lot with the main character, I don't think that mainstream audiences are going to care much about that.



Spiral Official Poster.jpg
Horror movie fans may be oddly nostalgic for the Saw movies.  And with a more prestigious cast, this might bring in viewers.

Peter Rabbit 2

Peter Rabbit 2 - RT poster.png

The first movie did well, but it didn't set the box office on fire.  I don't know how much love their is from parents and kids to bring people into the theater.

The Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad official poster.jpeg

A lot of people are banking on this one to make the top 10.  I am dubious for a few reasons:
-R-Rating: this will make it difficult for a lot of the target super hero audience to see
-Lack of Interest: The original Suicide Squad made money but left a lot of audiences cold.  Birds of Prey was a big bomb of a film.  Now this is the third Harley Quinn movie and I don't think general audiences are that interested.
-Confusion:  Calling the movie The Suicide Squad is going to be confusing to mainstream audiences who will wonder why they are re-releasing Suicide Squad
When James Gunn is given full creative control, his movies tend to be violent, ugly messes.  When he is forced to be creative, we get something like Guardians of the Galaxy.  I don't know what this is going to be. 


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