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Summer Box Office Predictions 2023
Where will Guardians, Barbie, and Indiana Jones land?
It has been a few years since I participated in a Summer Box Office prediction game. The pandemic had a hand in that, as not only were studios not taking chances with their big flagship titles, but audiences weren’t going back in big numbers either.
Until Top Gun Maverick saved the movie business.
Top Gun Maverick was a patriotic crowd-pleaser and everyone had to see it. It was the kind of summer blockbuster we rarely see anymore and I think it continued to play on IMAX screens all the way through those hot months into September. Will there be another movie like that this year?
The obvious answer is The Super Mario Bros. Movie. It’s hard to imagine any other movie pulling in the box office dollars that Mario and his friends have enjoyed over the last few weeks. It’s not only one of the biggest animated movies of all time, but it’s steadily destroying other box office records. Families have been waiting for a movie of this nature for a while now, and audiences are flocking to it. So the question becomes not what movie will win the summer box office, but rather which one will come in second.
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According to Fandango, the top ten most anticipated movies of the summer are:
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
The Little Mermaid
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
You’ll notice below that most of the movies on the list are sequels or remakes. Those movies tend to make the most money these days and that’s why there are so few new ideas in Hollywood. Why bother developing new IP when you can take established characters on new adventures while making a fantastic return? Four of the movies below have more than three sequels— Fast X is the tenth entry in the franchise, Transformers is the seventh entry, Mission: Impossible is also in its seventh movie, and Indiana Jones is the fourth.
What is the only movie on the list below that doesn’t fall into the bracket of being based on an exciting IP or a sequel/remake? Christoper Nolan’s Oppenheimer which Universal hopes that Nolan is a franchise in and of himself.
Scroll down for the full list, trailers, and other recommendations
1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date: May 5 — Comp: Guardians Vol 2. (2017, $389MM)
As the final Guardians of the Galaxy movie directed by James Gunn, there are plenty of expectations around this latest Marvel feature. Reviews have started trickling out and the movie has a respectable review score (81% on RT), so it should be a big box office player over the summer. What will be worth keeping an eye on is the strength of the Marvel brand and whether or not we’ll start seeing less impressive numbers from these superhero movies for a little while.
2. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1
Release date: July 12 — Comp: Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018, $220MM) / Top Gun Maverick (2022, $718MM)
This isn’t the hardest movie to predict going into the summer, but given Top Gun Maverick’s monstrous success, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of multiplier that gives the box office of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1. Similar to the John Wick movies, people come to these M: I movies to see Tom Cruise do increasingly dangerous stunts and if the previews are any indication, audiences will be satisfied once again.
3. The Little Mermaid
Release date: May 26 — Comp: Aladdin (2019, $355MM) / Beauty and the Beast (2017, $504MM)
The Lion King is definitely an outlier when it comes to these Disney live-action adaptations. Not only was The Lion King not really live-action since all the animals were animated, but it’s easily one of Disney’s most beloved and acclaimed movies. I think The Little Mermaid is a title that’s in the same realm, but not quite. I think right in the middle of the two titles above would be a suitable place.
4. Fast X
Release date: May 19 — Comp: F9: The Fast Saga (2021, $173MM)
By this point in the Fast and Furious franchise the plot of these movies is the least consequential of the movie. It’s more about how many new faces (this one includes Brie Larson and Jason Mamoa this time around), and crazy stunts they can achieve with cars. I don’t think this franchise is pulling in new fans for its tenth iteration, so it’ll probably do the same kind of business as F9.
5. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Release date: June 30 — Comp: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008, $317MM)
Harrison Ford will be the oldest actor to ever headline a summer blockbuster, by some margin. Obviously, there’s still an audience for an Indiana Jones adventure (look how many people showed up for Sony’s Uncharted), but this could go either way. Either this won’t bring audiences into the theater having soured on Indiana Jones or after the splashy Cannes Film Festival premiere it goes on to bring in massive box office dollars.
6. The Flash
Release date: June 16 — Comp: Aquaman (2018, $335MM)
The Flash had its first screening during CinemaCon this past week and there was plenty of excitement about the new
Batman superhero movie. This movie doesn’t only include Ezra Miller as The Flash (Read this to learn more about their legal troubles), but two Batmen (Ben Affleck and Micheal Keaton), and a Supergirl (Sasha Calle). DC has positioned the movie as a way to reboot the DC Universe movies now that James Gunn is in charge. Not only that, but the marketing has been going full steam into selling this as a Batman movie. That’s a far more lucrative property than The Flash.
Release date: July 21 — Comp: ???
This is a wild card. Barbie is such a beloved IP it could do business like The Super Mario Bros. Movie. On the other hand, the biggest box office smashes that have ever been directed by a woman include Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and The Matrix Reloaded. All three of those movies are action movies, something I imagine Barbie isn’t. It probably is more comparable to something like Twilight ($194MM) or Pitch Perfect 2 (184.3MM), it will either succeed do its core base or it becomes a beloved comedy hit. Honestly, I don’t even know if Barbie has musical elements to it or not at this point. All I do know is that there is a ton of interest in this one regardless of what it is.
Release date: July 21
Two words. Christopher Nolan.
That’s why Universal signed a big check over to Nolan to direct a film based on the creation of the Atomic Bomb. It doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but when you include Nolan and a cast that includes Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Gary Oldman, and many more you begin to see how the star power of this one could bring in audiences. There will also be a big push to see this movie in the biggest format possible as I’m positive Nolan’s movie will dominate IMAX screens for a few weeks following release.
9. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Release date: June 2
Even though the first Spider-Verse movie was well-reviewed and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, it didn’t set the box office on fire like its live-action peers. It’s easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year, but that doesn’t mean everyone will be excited about it. Audiences are hungry for family fare so that should position Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse well. We’ll just see if the acclaim of the first one translates to more ticket sales.
10. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
Release date: June 9 — Comp: Bumblebee (2018, $127MM)
I really enjoyed Bumblebee. After Michael Bay directed a whole bunch of Transformers movies, Paramount and Hasbro went in a different direction. Domestically the movie did fine, but where Transformers is still a box-office giant in the international market. Maybe Rise of the Beasts will be good? Either way, I think this is where the franchise belongs now.
If you missed the podcast where my co-host John Gilpatrick and I picked movies for our Summer Box Office Game, you could listen at the link below:
If you want an alternative list of anticipated summer movies of 2023, check outand his latest list of summer movies.
Shout out tofor the inspiration and some of the comps. You can view his selections at this link.