This week, I do my look-ahead at Summer Movie Season which gets started this weekend with the release of The Avengers.
Of course, up until now we had a very interesting January-to-April Winter Movie Season, livened up by the box office domination of The Hunger Games which broke all kinds of records for a release at this time of year.
The Hunger Games opened to $152 million on the March 23 weekend, the third-best weekend haul in history and the highest for a non-sequel. After six weeks in theatres, The Hunger Games is now past $600 million in worldwide revenues and has hauled in over $372 million in North American domestic distribution.
Usually these are the sort of numbers seen by the blockbusters that usually roll out during the summer months. Then again, it’s not unusual for the January-to-April period to occasionally see one big blockbuster movie, and one alone. The Hunger Games really was the only blockbuster we saw during the last four months that had any staying power.
Of course, the winter period did live up to its deathtrap reputation by churning out its share of flops, including the by now notorious John Carter, a multi-million-dollar total debacle that recently cost Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross his job.
But now winter season is over, and hopefully the firings are over in Hollywood for a while. The May 4 weekend is upon us and as is traditionally the case, the first weekend will again be the grand kickoff to summer blockbuster season with the debut of The Avengers.
It should be noted that this Avengers movie has nothing to do with the Avengers of British TV fame. No, there is no Mrs. Peel or Steed in this movie. This is a completely different production and a completely different set of characters, which is too bad if you liked the TV show.
These Avengers are based on the Marvel comics of the same name, featuring a who’s who of Marvel superhero legends: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and others recruited by the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D. to fight evil.
The movie studios have already set the stage for The Avengers by rolling out the characters with movie franchises of their own over the past few years. Usually it would be the Iron Man franchise, starring Robert Downey Jr. in the title role, that would roll out during May to big box office and millions of dollars in revenue. This year Downey is back as Iron Man in The Avengers, with the rest of the cast including such names as Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, and other big names including Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Already The Avengers has made a fortune overseas with a haul of $178 million in its first weekend, so it’s clear this movie is already a big hit. It opens in North America May 4, so the big question really is whether this movie will end up winning the North American title of box office champ for 2012 right out of the gate.
It’s got competition for that category, to be sure, and one of them will be The Dark Knight Rises, due out July 20. This one features Christian Bale in the title role for the third time, and is meant to be the conclusion of the three-movie series that was directed by Christopher Nolan. The first two movies in his series were Batman Returns and the Dark Knight. This movie takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight and will feature Anne Hathaway donning the leather as Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman.
Another movie to watch out for at the box office will be The Amazing Spider-Man, due out on July 3. This is not a sequel, though, but a total reboot with Andrew Garfield in the title role portraying Peter Parker as his powers evolved in high school.
The previous three Spider-Man movies were very big hits, but we’ll see what the reception is for this one. I wonder if it will live up to the previous Tobey Maguire Spider-Mans, though. Those were especially well-received, so this one may have a lot to live up to.
I also wonder whether the movie fans are getting a little bored with Spider-Man movies. In fact, I wonder whether they are getting bored with superhero movies, period, but at least this year the genre is being revived in a big way.
Those are three movies that I expect will dominate the box office this summer season. As for who will finish as the champion for the summer of 2012, I think it remains to be seen.
A lot of the talk early on is that it is going to end up between The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Keep in mind that in 2008 The Dark Knight ended up setting all kinds of fastest-opening-ever box office records at the time. It ended up with a grand total of $533 domestic which was second all-time to Titanic, the record-holder at the time (later toppled by Avatar). Worldwide, it made a billion dollars.
The Avengers, on the other hand, is loaded with proven box-office characters, particularly Iron Man. Both recent Iron Man movies grossed over $300 million dollars. So there’s a lot of box office history behind these two movies doing really well. There’s also a lot of strong box office history behind Spider-Man movies as well, but the initial buzz seems to be in favor of these other two.
I think the pace will be set right out of the gate by The Avengers. If history is a guide, though, usually it is the early May releases that set the pace, but it is the later summer releases from late June or July that end up winning the summer box office title in the end. So on that basis I’m predicting The Dark Knight Rises will probably win the summer box office with a haul over $400 million, followed by The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man, in that order. Of course, it is another question whether any of these movies will catch The Hunger Games and win the box office for the year, but it’s possible.
There ought to be quite a few other blockbusters out there beyond these three, though. Here are some other movies to look out for as far as box office is concerned this summer:
Battleship – a sci-fi naval war film based on video game by the same title, opens May 18.
Men in Black 3 – That’s right, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are back mixing it up with the aliens, though this time they travel back in time to the Sixties to prevent an assassination from taking place. Due out May 25.
Snow White and the Huntsman – Kristen Stewart is in this one. It’s fair to say a Disney movie this is definitely not. June 1.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – third installment for Dreamworks’ lovable animals. Release date June 8.
Rock of Ages – rock musical set in 1987 featuring Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and Tom Cruise. Due out June 15.
GI Joe: Retaliation – sequel to the original GI Joe movie. June 29.
Ice Age: Continental Drift 3-D – another of the successful Ice Age series of movies. In theatres July 13.
The Bourne Legacy – Matt Damon back as Jason Bourne again for the fourth time. August 3.
Total Recall – Remake of the 1990 sci-fi original that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Colin Farrell takes on the role of Doug Quaid this time. Also due out August 3.
There are lots of other movies to liven up the summer months. Some of them may not do quite the blockbuster business but promise to provide plenty of entertainment for movie fans out there.
The one I’m personally looking forward to the most, though, is Piranha 3DD on June 1. It’s the 3D sequel to the 2010 release, Pirahna 3D, which itself was a remake. Piranha 3DD once again promises to be so bad it’s good. This time, they have these creatures going through the town’s plumbing to eat people, and they even plan to bring back David Hasselhoff --- as a lifeguard.
Wild stuff. The summer is definitely the fun time to go to the movies.