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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks: Summer Preview

16 weeks… 36 films.

(For the purposes of this exercise, I am including only titles that I think can realistically hit $20m or more domestically.)

There are only 8 direct sequels (Batman, MiB, Ice Age, Madagascar, Wimpy Kid, Expendables, Piranha, Madea). But there are another 8 films that are either reboots (Spidey, Total Recall, ) re-casts (Bourne, GI: Joe), or reconsiderations of well-worn material (Avengers, Prometheus, Snow White, Dark Shadows).

Warner Bros has the most unexpected line-up. Nolan’s Batman swan song is the 800 pound gorilla, but after that, it’s five odd titles. One is a Burton/Depp kitsch combo, but while Burton’s 2 biggest hits were kitschy and Depp-y, they were family films with long histories (Alice & Charlie). The less specific films, while often brilliant, linger on the bottom half of Burton’s career gross chart.

The rest of the titles all seem to be at the wrong studio. Rock of Ages could be this summer’s Mamma Mia!… but not at Universal. Hmmm. WB will try to turn the Paramount Insurge trick with Chernobyl Diaries. The Campaign is a Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis comedy from Jay Roach. Hard to tell what’s coming, but it is Ferrell’s first film at WB, aside from a supporting role in Starsky & Hutch. And Soderbergh’s Magic Mike sounds like another indie-style piece, like The Informant!, which the studio just couldn’t figure out. It just screams New Line or as still-operating studios go, Sony… maybe Paramount. But WB? Hmmm…

So it could be a massively successful summer all around. Ferrell & ZcG could kill it. Male strippers could be ready for their big movie moment. Tom Cruise could be the King of Summer Fun, as he was the King of Christmas fun with M:I4 last December. And Oren Peli could birth another major geek event. Moreover, with Burton, Soderbergh, Roach, and Nolan, Warner Bros status as a director’s studio is through the roof.

But still… an odd list of films for big star WB.

Sony is the Back To The Future studio of the summer, with the Spider-Man relaunch, the return of Men in Black, Total Recall through the eyes of their Underworld creator, a remake of Sparkle, and even the Sandler movie sounds like an old Bob Hope film, That’s My Boy. David Frankel lands at Sony after a run at Fox, but Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple trying to make it work, with laughs, feels very Sony familiar.

Universal is either going to rock the box office or get everyone fired. Battleship and Bourne are the big machine movies, with huge expectations attached. Snow White & The Huntsman looks like it will be the easy winner of the 7 dwarfs sweepstake this year, but what will the box office make of back-to-back Charlize weeks? And their other two films, Ted and Savages could well be the surprise hit and the (not so much of a) surprise flop of the summer. Of course, Universal has had a few Teds before… really good films… that The Kids just didn’t get interested in. The trailer for Ted is great… but so were some of the others. Still, bottom line, as Battleship and Bourne go, so goes Universal’s summer.

Disney gets Marvel, has Pixar… and some other stuff. Things are still shaking over there, but once July arrives, there will be plenty of time to rethink as much as they like. But the two big films should be BIG.

It’s a big change of season for Paramount, who had five big ass movies to open last summer… and have just 3 this entire summer. Madagascar 3 could be very strong, but not a huge challenge anymore. Like Ice Age 4, either they are going to come or not. The GI: Joe reboot with The Rock and Bruce Willis is more like launching something brand new. And The Dictator, whose Oscar red carpet stunt turned out to be part of the movie’s production, not promotion, could well be the unstoppable shrinkage of the Sasha Baron Cohen gag.

And Fox could have a summer that will really piss of the media that likes to kick the studio. Prometheus looks like the unexpected monster hit of the summer, though if it is, media will shrug it off as though it was expected. Ice Age: Continental Drift may slow domestically, but if it’s anything like the last one internationally, it’s a monster. Wimpy Kid is a modest programmer that works. Abe Lincoln Meets The Twilight Kids could be $80m huge or a complete miss. Just impossible to tell what the mood of that moment will be like. It’s going to be hard for the film to keep screens against a lot of big films and it feels like a movie that will take time. And I guess Tom Rothman finally got Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn to work for a price he liked and Neighborhood Watch feels like it could be a nice “surprise” like Dodgeball was.

The record for $200m domestic grossers in a summer is six. We should see that matched, if not surpassed, this summer. We could certainly see the first year ever with two $400m domestic grossers. And it looks like you’ll be able to count the real bombs – not considering cost – on one hand.

On the other hand, I count seven films with production budgets at or over $200 million, which is a sharp contrast from last year’s more modestly budgeted summer. Foreign is not going to be icing on the cake. It is now expected.

The real definition of this summer will not come from the blockbusters, but from the middle-r movies… the Snow Whites and the Total Recalls and the GI Joes and the Neighborhood Watches and the Teds and the Dark Shadows. Those are the films where the $20m losses or the $75m wins will add up. Even a movie like Prometheus… if it does $500m worldwide, it will be the biggest grosser in Ridley Scott’s illustrious career.

So don’t get distracted by the monsters. There could be a couple billion dollar worldwiders in there. But the story lurks in the folds.

Just to make sure there is something to be held over my head for years to come, I will be doing my annual chart again… soon…

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86 Responses to “20 Weeks: Summer Preview”

  1. cadavra says:

    Hate to sound like a broken record–an old people’s expression if there ever was one–but DARK SHADOWS is hardly in the same class as ED WOOD, which was pretty much a pro bono labor of love. DS is based on a 46-year-old franchise that spawned a second TV series, two prior feature films, dozens of books and collectibles, and numerous fan conventions. Plus it has a much “bigger” cast, and Depp is a far larger star than he was in ’94. Not saying it will do $100 million, but it’ll be solid, and if they can keep the screens long enough so the boomers (who never rush out opening weekend) can take it in, they may be pleasantly surprised at its legs, especially as there doesn’t seem to be much else that appeals to the over-40s for the next month.

  2. LYT says:

    G.I. Joe IS a direct sequel – the only recasting in it is the role of Cobra Commander. Channing Tatum, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Park and Byung-hun Lee reprise their roles, and the plot picks up where the last one left off.

    Yes, new characters come to the forefront, but it’s the same continuity. I guess the same is true of Bourne: they’re not re-casting the role of Bourne himself. These are still sequels, just as Transformers 4 will be even with all-new humans.

  3. Jane says:

    I’m expecting Prometheus to seriously underwhelm at the box office, even with stellar reviews. Hard-core sci-fi is a harder sell than super hero films, it has no box office-draw stars, and even the title is a little obscure for a general audience. And if I recall correctly, the previous Alien films didn’t exactly make mega-bucks.

  4. Krillian says:

    Seems odd to me they wouldn’t bring Destro back. I get recasting Cobra – why would JGL return? – but okay…

    As they open on the same day, which one do you think will do better? Total Recall or The Bourne Legacy?

    Good luck on this one, Dave. I started my own prediction list and I could see up to 19 titles hitting $100 million this time. Which means there’s a bomb or two I’m not smelling yet. (But based on audience groans both times I’ve seen it on the big screen, I’d say Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will be one of them.)

  5. Telemachos says:

    @ Jane:

    ALIEN made $80 million when it came out. That translates to $246m today.
    ALIENS made $85 million originally, which is roughly $187m today.

    That’s pretty impressive for R-rated movies.

  6. christian says:

    “And if I recall correctly, the previous Alien films didn’t exactly make mega-bucks.”

    Uh, yeah.

  7. Jane says:

    Well, I’m thoroughly embarrassed. Maybe I was thinking of the more recent entries to the series. I still think Prometheus isn’t going to do as well as expected.

  8. Monco says:

    Unless there is a guaranteed shot of a xenomorph in a trailer I don’t see Prometheus making a huge amount of money. This will not be a repeat of Inception where the mystery of what exactly the movie is appeals to a wide audience. The more they keep hidden about what this movie is the less money it will make. How they are selling the movie now appeals to fanboys, critics and people who hang out on movie blogs like us but I don’t think the average person knows or cares about this movie….yet. Of course I could be totally wrong. I know I’ll be there opening day.

  9. sanj says:

    entertainment weekly has top 100 summer movies issue –

    article isn’t online .so check it out at your local retailer – they’ve got some great pictures,,ewTax:12031204,00.html

    DP – you should give away movie passes to summer hottest films… put up a contest on the main page – just make it fair to everybody. it’ll probably get more traffic ..which you can use to get people to watch more dp/30’s .

  10. anghus says:

    even Alien 3, the bastard redheaded stepchild of the series made $104 million adjusted for inflation. You would think with what they spent on Prometheus the floor would have to be $100 million domestic + $300 million Worldwide. For a $400+ million worldwide. That feels realistic.

    Is it too cerebral for American audiences? Will the pretty images be enough to get people on board?

    Oh, and now that the Avengers reviews have come out and the word of mouth is overwhelmingly positive, does anyone still want to laugh at the floor being $100 opening weekend $300 million total?

  11. JS Partisan says:

    100m and 300m domestic is low at this point and if you doubt even that modest projection, you are a looney tune! The reviews have gotten people excited and it’s only going to spread over the next two weeks. If it doesn’t at least tie Hunger Games’ opening weekend at this point, that would be shocking. Next week we at least get the European take on things and that should be interesting.

    That aside, here’s hoping Prometheus is the biggest film of Sir Ridley’s career. If it can happen to Woody last year. Here’s hoping it can happen to Sir Ridley this year.

  12. Telemachos says:

    Yeah, I tend to low-ball THE AVENGERS, but even I think it’ll probably open to least $140m and get to $350m or so.

  13. djiggs says:

    The most tantalizing question for me is what will be the final tally for Dark Knight Rises both domestic & worldwide? Does it match Dark Knight? Do less? Will it make $1 billion worldwide? Is this the third $600 million (non-adjusted due to inflation) domestic grosser after Avatar & Titanic? I don’t think it will pass Titanic & Avatar world wide though.

  14. Triple Option says:

    How scary do you think Prometheus will be? Did you guys say horror doesn’t work in warm weather? When’s it being released? Weren’t those Final Destination movies in Aug? Do people ever get tired of a futuristic look? I’m a bit concerned about how many pictures ahead Fox may be thinking with this film. I kinda felt like they got ahead of themselves w/Wolverine and way back on the Burton Planet of the Apes. Probably not fair to blame only Fox. I think something happens when they (any studio) go from repeat the success of the surprise hit to OK, how can we keep this on track to not disturb the franchise, films seem more signed off on as opposed to created. Does it have this? Check. How bout this? Check. Title in line? Open ending for next installment? Good, mint the poster and lets break story on the next episode in two years.

  15. Paul D/Stella says:

    anghus are the positive early reviews for The Avengers really swaying people who were on the fence? Who has read them other than people already planning on seeing it? I’m not disagreeing with your box office prognosticating. It’s going to be huge. I just wonder though if early glowing reviews on the net are actually read by people still not sure about seeing The Avengers, or if they’re primarily read by those already psyched to see it.

    Horror can do OK in warm weather. But how often is a big budget sci-fi/horror movie given a June release?

  16. anghus says:

    yeah, JS when i say ‘the floor’ im talking about the least it will make on opening weekend and it’s domestic theatrical run.

    it could very well make more, but i play Vegas odds with prognosticating these days. I’m not smart enough to tell you exact numbers, but i think i’m halfway decent at calling the over/under.

  17. Tuck Pendelton says:

    TED for me is the wild card. I could see that doing $50million, or $150 million. 22 minutes for Family guy usually stretches jokes WAY past the point of tedious, curious how 90 minute movie will go.

  18. Jason B. says:

    Looking forward to your chart, DP. What would be interesting to add in addition to your predictions, are the opening/domestic total amount thresholds that you believe each movie needs to hit for it to not be considered a bomb.

    What will also be interesting to watch is if the trend of underperforming sequels continues this year. Last year, so many sequels were expected to do good, only to underperform. And many of them were surprising.

  19. Jason B. says:

    Speaking of bombs, Battleship just looks like a bet for underperforming. Anyone else feel the TV spots are disjointed? I think selling it as a cousin to Transformers is a mistake. Though granted, Liam’s movies always seem to surprise. Though the production values pale in comparison to Battleship. What would be the estimtated production – $250m? That would mean Battleship would need about $500M worldwide for hit status? I just see a $150M domestic as optimistic with a worldwide total of $400M max. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that is not enough.

  20. Bennett says:

    I’m not saying Battleship will be huge. But I could see it hold up as a fun alternative for MIB and those who have seen Avengers.

  21. movieman says:

    I know it probably sounds blasphemous, but Summer Movie Previews (many of which I’ve written in the past) now feel more like bullying threats.
    Maybe it’s because so few of the movies released by the majors–particularly in the warm weather months–are anything a grown-up can genuinely get enthused about.
    I’ve had the current EW with THEIR Summer Movie Preview sitting on a coffee table in my house for 6 days now, and have yet to pick it up.

  22. Telemachos says:

    I think DARK KNIGHT RISES probably drops a bit from TDK domestically, but goes higher than it overseas. So it’ll probably cross a billion worldwide, but I don’t see it setting any sort of crazy record (outside of possibly the opening weekend record, I suppose).

  23. Josh M says:

    “Is it too cerebral for American audiences? Will the pretty images be enough to get people on board?”

    The lessons of Inception are so quickly forgotten.

    What’s the read on Spider-man? I haven’t heard a single person express any interest in it, but granted, I’m not hanging around any 19-year-olds.

  24. berg says:

    jonathan frid just passed away (barnabas collins)

  25. cadavra says:

    What rotten timing.

    And we just lost Levon Helm as well. Man, what a lousy week. That’s four pretty important figures (inc. Wallace and Clark).

  26. JS Partisan says:

    Paul, the Avengers reviews aren’t just read by people who want to see this movie. The movie is probably going to have huge positives on Rotten Tomato, Metacritic, and Cinemascore. This means that before WOM gets even stronger, the movie is going to open to crazy positive reviews. It’s also going to be the kid movie to see for most of May and that should help immensely.

    That aside, TDK-R will be a great demonstration at how fertile international has become. It probably has a greater shot than any film not known as Avatar, to make just a billion over there. That’s possibly a slim chance prediction but even if Avengers is a better movie. This is Nolan, Nolan gets 800m off of his ORIGINAL IDEAS. You put him back in a Batman movie, his last Batman movie, and the stars, not the sky, is the limit with this film’s earning potential.

    Finally, ang, in case that it did not come across, anyone doubting your floor estimate is looney.

  27. Monco says:

    TDKR for sure sets the opening 3 day record. I’d bet that it crushes it in fact. One billion ww is a lock too. It won’t match TDK’s domestic total though.

  28. JS Partisan says:

    Monco, it can make one billion internationally. That’s almost a lock with how ripe international has become since Avatar. Even if it doesn’t come close to 500m here, if it does 400m here and a billion there. Again, the stars and not the sky are the limit to this film’s earning potential.

    The thing of it is: TDK-R is going to have the biggest opening of any film ever. It’s probably going to get close to 200m in a weekend. Once you start off that big, you’ll probably have the biggest second weekend ever for a film, thanks to the non-braving the first week crowds people. This film could possibly have a 200m and then a 100m second weekend even if WOM is tepid because it’s Nolan and people have to see a NOLAN BATMAN MOVIE.

    Again, this is all pie in the sky speculation, but we could see TDK-R do things that are absolutely stupid in terms of modern box office.

  29. David Poland says:

    “this is all pie in the sky speculation”

    Couldn’t have said it better.

    It may well be the biggest opening ever. $1b is not guaranteed, but very possible. $1.33 is the Potter mark (#3 all-time) and is a lot to expect from TDKR, unless is is extraordinarily good… better than TDK.

  30. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah David, I get some right, you get some right, but am I the one getting paid to do this for a living? I think not but you know Iron Man, TDK, countless other films you doubted that I didn’t, and so on and so forth. If you want to put some money down on whose a better box office prognosticator, then step up to the plate, son. I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU.

    Seriously, you thinking it can’t beat Potter is funny. If he can do almost a BILLION (Which almost guarantees it’s a billion dollar grosser) on an ORIGINAL IDEA, even though you disliked that 800m grossing movie because it apparently represented too much of a risk or something, he can beat Potter easy.

    These aren’t expectations David. This is Christopher Nolan’s last Batman film. If it’s not a juggernaut then that’s a failure in and of itself.

  31. Monco says:

    Yes Batman is more of an American icon than an international one like Harry Potter or even an international story like Alice in Wonderland. And yes TDK is the rare movie that made over 50% of its box office in the U.S. so if I’m predicting that TDKR doesn’t match the domestic total of Dark Knight then it could potentially have trouble reaching a billion worldwide. But international has gotten so crazy that it is no great stretch to say that one billion ww is a lock in my opinion. Even without 3D. I mean last summer had 3 movies hit one billion. It is not that great of a mark anymore. It’s like the 400 million domestic threshold…impressive and no small feat but not that shocking when it happens. Last summer gave us 3. I’m predicting that this summer gives us at least one most likely two. If its one I say it is Rises. You seem to be in the Amazing Spiderman camp DP. That’s fine the last one did 800 million and was crap so if this one is good it should hit a billion with adding in 3D which put Potter over the edge. They most likely both reach a billion….and then The Hobbit crosses one billion as well. Giving us three one billion dollar grossers for the year like last year. This is a world where a billion dollars is not all that impressive anymore.

  32. David Poland says:

    JSP – Getting into a dick measuring contest with you suggests that you have something to pull out.

    I’m not even going to bother asking you to get the shine box.

  33. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah I am not so sure about the Hobbit’s earning potential, but that’s for later in the year. Also, Batman is an INTERNATIONAL ICON. Much like Superman, he has one of the most known logos on earth, and one of the most known origin stories as well. This is why Batman movies make so much damn money. He’s Bruce Wayne and he’s going to go box office crazy this Summer.

    Also, seriously, Spidey has a hard time getting past inflated Batman Begins numbers. The trailers for it, unless you see them in 3D, are horrible. There’s hardly any excitement for it because Avengers and TDK have pretty much has sucked it all away, and it opens only TWO WEEKS before TDK-R. It’s lucky if it grosses as much as MIB3.

    David, nice of you to want to see something impressive, even if I thought that EW story didn’t have any truth to it, but you’d lose that contest like you’d lose this one. It’s okay if you want to punk out because you’re going to lose, but feel free to take the higher ground to preserve your stellar rep as a prognosticator!

  34. JS Partisan says:

    Oh yeah, they made a Thor movie, didn’t they? Didn’t they? Didn’t they?

  35. SamLowry says:

    $1 bil? For a movie whose only new draws are Anne Hathaway and a supporting actor from Inception playing a character most people over 30 have never heard of?

  36. JS Partisan says:

    You know millions of people read Knightfall. Yep, that happened. It was a huge event. You also not getting that it’s NOLAN! IT’S BATMAN! IT WILL MAKE A SHIT LOAD OF MONEY and denying that is rather perplexing. Denying that is like denying the power of Chicago Style Pizza and do you want to deny Chicago Style Pizza, Sam? DO YOU?

  37. SamLowry says:

    Never had the pleasure. So what ineffable quality makes it different from your basic $5 Little Caesars’ Hot-N-Ready?

  38. Jason B. says:

    No one is going to see Batman for Anne Hathaway or some other character (whatever Knightfall is). It’s a Batman movie, directed by someone who has built up credibility by creating 2 previous movies that were realistic, gritty, and good. That’s why people will see it. Nolan could have the main bad guy be a plant and it would still be one of the biggest movies of the year.

    Whether it gets to $1B or not (I think it might) or has a $200M opening (I don’t think it might), it will still be huge and is 1 of maybe 3 event movies this year that people “will have to see in the theater.”

  39. jesse says:

    Maybe this should wait for DP’s actual chart post, but here are my guesses for the summer top 20, Premiere Magazine style (which is to say way early, probably quite inaccurate, but fun to think about):

    The Dark Knight Rises: $460 million
    The Avengers: $345 million
    The Amazing Spider-Man: $280 million
    Men in Black 3: $215 million
    Brave: $210 million
    Battleship: $185 million
    Ice Age 4: $165 million
    Madagascar 3: $160 million
    GI Joe 2: $155 million
    Rock of Ages: $150 million
    Snow White and the Huntsman: $145 million
    Neighborhood Watch: $130 million
    The Campaign: $125 million
    Prometheus: $120 million
    Dark Shadows: $115 million
    That’s My Boy: $110 million
    The Bourne Legacy: $110 million
    The Expendables 2: $100 million
    Total Recall: $89 million
    Savages: $85 million
    Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: $78 million

    At this point, it looks like there are a bunch of movies that will perform respectably but I don’t see a lot of potential for massive hits (though of course something could surprise; that’s what makes for a surprise hit).

    I vaguely feel like the Bourne movie could underperform because I’ve never been able to figure out why Universal assumes people are clamoring for a Bourne-style movie without Damon when lots of action movies serve that up pretty readily. It’s almost inconceivable to me that a Damon-less Bourne would outgross either of the Damon sequels, so aren’t we really looking at something unlikely to get beyond 150 or 160 domestic, even best-case scenario?

    I could maybe see GI Joe 2 breaking out and significantly outperforming the first movie if it turns out to be way more satisfying (gotta believe that helped Fast Five; it opened biggest, sure, but not by THAT much, yet made a big chunk more than the fourth one… I assume because it was a way more fun movie, though of course that stuff is subjective).

    Prometheus seems on track to make Super 8 style money: a gross that’s really strong for a movie that’s not as franchise-y as the rest, but is still well within the summer-movie wheelhouse… and also a little disappointing following media speculation that its originality could propell it even higher.

    I think Spidey will do fine but suffer a little from (a.) comic-book competition (b.) the third movie not being so well-liked (c.) basically remaking/redoing a character that just started a trilogy ten years ago.

  40. hcat says:

    I think you are greatly overestimating Rock of Ages, I’m thinking more of the 60 range.

    And I can’t help but root for Abe Lincoln to be a suprise hit if only for the great franchise possibilities:

    A DOA style thriller with William Henry Harrison

    Nixon: King of the Werewolves

    Or with Spain using the last of their dark magic they accumulated through the ritual torture of the inquisistion they raise all the dead soldiers as Zombies and attempt to retake Cuba and then America. Leaving it up to an aging Teddy Roosevelt (and I don’t care what else Russell Crowe has on his plate, he was born for this) to recall his rough riders and again invade Cuba to protect the hemisphere in SAN JUAN KILL.

  41. jesse says:

    I can see Rock of Ages blowing up in a big way. I feel like it’s exactly the kind of kitschy bullshit that a lot of people want out of movie musicals. And other star-studded summer musicals did 144 (Mamma Mia) and 128 (Hairspray). This one has the KTEL-variety of hits rather than original songs or a single-band jukebox plus Cruise.

    I think even if 150 is high, it’ll do 100.

  42. David Poland says:

    JSP – I know you want to fight about Batman, even if everyone agrees on a very high, very reasonable expectation for the film. Makes you into a caricature.

    The truth is, it depends a lot on the movie in this case. There is almost no chance of the film grossing less than $750m worldwide and not much chance of it doing more than $!.25b. In between those numbers, there is a lot of give.

    “The last Nolan Batman” is not the same as “the last Harry Potter.” Sorry. Just isn’t.

    And keep in mind, Sith – which was considered by most to be the best of the three re-quels – did less than Phantom Menace… and it had the birth of Vader in it, which was the whole focus of the re-quels.

    I know I am just shouting at a deaf dude when I respond to you, JSP… but for everyone else…

  43. David Poland says:

    Mamma Mia! – $144m domestic, $466m international

  44. Paul D/Stella says:

    Yeah Rock of Ages seems like a lock for at least $100 million. Cruise is coming off a big hit. Lots of other familiar names and faces. Only other wide release that weekend is an R-rated Sandler comedy mostly going for a different audience.

    I see Abe Lincoln flopping. The trailer is ridiculous, all the slow-mo and wall jumping and what not. Looks like something released in 2001. Seems like a hard sell to me. Is it going to be PG-13 or R?

  45. jesse says:

    Yeah, I think David makes a good larger point by bringing up Sith. This geeky notion of WE NEED TO SEE HOW IT’S ALL GOING TO END! just isn’t necessarily that big of a deal for some people. For a core audience, sure, but if we’re talking about movies that are more or less guaranteed by fanbases and general interest to hit 300 or so… it’s hard to account for how much higher they can go with interest in WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. I mean, Dark Knight is a satisfying movie on its own, so while of course a lot of people will be interested in seeing the NEXT Nolan/Batman movie, I don’t know how many of those people (apart from Batman/comics fans) think about this in terms of THIS IS THE FINAL ACT OF A TRILOGY! Certainly, some people do. But I don’t know — some people just want to watch a Batman movie and for whatever reason (Ledger, the Joker, etc.) will have seen Dark Knight and not necessarily see the next one. Just as, statistically speaking, probably some people saw Dark Knight without seeing Batman Begins.

    I mean, yes, look at Star Wars: until the re-releases, the lowest grossing of the three was Empire Strikes Back, which was both a WHAT HAPPENS NEXT for the first movie, a major holy-shit moment for the story overall, and leads straight into the third movie. And yet: less money than New Hope or Jedi.

    Similarly, a lot of people saw Phantom Menace because it was a brand-new much-hyped Star Wars movie event… and then got off board for the next two. Maybe some of them just didn’t like it, sure. But we sometimes forget as movie nerds that a lot of moviegoing is made up of casual fans who watch a movie, enjoy it or not, and kinda-sorta forget about it sometimes… rather than waiting with baited breath for the sequel.

    As you can see above, I think DKR will be huge. But this idea that every single person who saw the last one will line up to find out WHAT HAPPENS TO BATMAN NEXT, well, it’s a little too perfect and naive.

  46. Paul D/Stella says:

    Generally speaking, people loved The Dark Knight. And I feel like it’s still pretty fresh in their minds. It must have generated a lot of good will. I think that is more of a factor for people than wanting to make sure they see the final part of a trilogy. They saw and loved TDK, and they want to see what’s next. And they trust that it will be worth it.

  47. anghus says:

    I hope TDKR makes a mint, but i have to look at the history and say “how many franchises have had the third film in the series as the biggest grosser?”

    That would require more research than i have time for but im guessing few to none.

  48. bulldog68 says:

    Off the top of my head Anghus:
    Return of the King.
    Toy Story 3
    Austin Powers 3.

  49. JS Partisan says:

    If you want to stop being figuratively deaf, then actually interpret what I wrote correctly David. It’s not about the end of a trilogy. It’s about the last NOLAN BATMAN FILM. That’s a big thing and it’s been played up in the press for two years now. Again, not about the end, but about the last Nolan Batman film.

    What Paul wrote about TDK nails to me why TDK-R will be ridiculously successful. You also have Inception. Which generated even more good will for Nolan. You add all of this up and guess what? You have a huge opening and the makings of a box office juggernaut. Doubt it all you want David. We will just get back to this at a later point.

  50. Paul D/Stella says:

    Ice Age 3. The Bourne Ultimatum.

  51. jesse says:

    So JS, you’re somehow assuming that Inception’s $290 million domestic included a ton of people who didn’t see Dark Knight but will now be more excited for Dark Knight Rises?

    I mean, probably some people who saw Inception didn’t see Dark Knight. But I’m not sure what kind of a huge impact even a big hit can make on the sequel to a movie that grossed almost twice as much as said big hit.

    My point is: how does Inception ADD to Dark Knight Rises audience? It helps the Nolan brand, and Nolan is surely one of four or five directors who non-movie people might recognize by name (maybe)… but Nolan having another big hit between Batman movies doesn’t mean that he’s picking up thousands upon thousands of new fans.

    And sorry, most regular moviegoers probably do not pay attention to the “press” that’s playing up LAST NOLAN BATMAN. Last Christian Bale Batman, maybe. But Dark Knight is going to make a ton because of Batman… not Nolan.

  52. anghus says:

    So more than a few but not the vast majority.

  53. storymark says:

    Sitting in a computer lab full of fairly tech savvy teenagers – I ask them how many are excited for the new Chris Nolan movie…. crickets.

    Then I ask how many are excited for the next Batman, and all the hands go up.

  54. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah American teenagers are some of the least knowledgeable about anything on earth. Ask a bunch of Korean teenagers then we might get somewhere XD!

    Jesse, why do you assume that you know how average moviegoers think? Why do you assume you know what press coverage they get or don’t get? Why people who POST ON A MOVIEBLOG AND SEE MORE MOVIES A YEAR THAN MOST AMERICANS, think they can accurately comprehend what non-hardcore movie fans know and don’t know, is a testament to the hilarity of the internet.

    You also don’t seem to get that not everyone who went and saw Inception saw TDK. David also wants to assume that in this fertile international market, that TDK-R is only going to make more, on the low end, than a TWILIGHT MOVIE? Really?

    Again, you have a fertile international box office that wasn’t exactly ripe for TDK, you have the power of Inception, and it being the last NOLAN BATMAN MOVIE. What Paul wrote is dead freaking on. Ignoring that to assume this film will gross less. Ignores that everyone in here forgets about TOY STORY… 3. A THIRD FILM THAT GROSSED THE MOST FOR THE SERIES.

  55. storymark says:

    ….a brick wall….

    “Jesse, why do you assume that you know how average moviegoers think?”

    Why not? You do it all the time.

  56. Krillian says:

    X-Men: Last Stand, Twilight: Eclipse. Of the Shatner Star Treks I believe IV: The Voyage Home was the biggest moneymaker.

    Which chick flick is going to break out? Shouldn’t it be What to Expect When You’re Expecting that at least gets Sex & the City 2 money? Though my wife found “the Dudes” trailer for it a big turn-off.

    Hope Springs would be the August candidate, but I just don’t see it.

  57. JS Partisan says:

    There’s no fucking winning with you Story. You should know that I am not the homophobic piece of shit that you think I am. It would be nice if you could get that through your head and stop projecting on me, what’s not there.

    You also do not get at all, with your double face palm moment up there, that there is a difference between stating they are idiots who don’t pay attention, and stating that this stuff is out there. It’s out there. It’s going to show up on little blurbs on the noon news. It’s going to be in the reviews. Seriously, come the fuck on.

    Oh yeah just for the edification of you people: I find it funny that you people, you know who are, think strongly disagreeing with you is me not comprehending your arguments. I get what your shoveling, but I don’t like the smell.

  58. Krillian says:

    But yeah, anghus is right, the road is littered with weaker part 3’s in the box-office department. I can just see TDKR edging out TDK, even if Bane’s not near as cool as Joker.

  59. storymark says:

    “You should know that I am not the homophobic piece of shit that you think I am.”


    Did you just have a stroke or something? That’s a pretty bizaar defense to make, since the thought never even occured to me – much less did I make any such accusations. Man, what is your malfunction?

    No winning indeed. Wow.

  60. anghus says:

    I think the intetesting variable is it being the third and final film in the trilogy and being marketed as such. And that could end up being a Return of the King or Matrix Revolutions. Based on the reaction to movie #2 id have to say it would perform more like King.

    It seems like most of the time the quality of the previous film directly impacts the next sequel.

    Spiderman was huge but some people found it a little over the top. Spiderman 2 was a better movie but the audience from the first didnt all jump on board. The third film was not as good but benefitted from the goodwill of the well received second film. The box office was directly impacted by the perception of the previous entry in the series.

    Matrix Reloaded did well because of Matrix. Matrix Revolutions did poorly because of Matrix Reloaded. Dead Mans Chest did well because of Curse of the Black Pearl. At Worlds End didnt fare as well because of Dead Mans Chest.

    There are counter arguments. But using this logic Dark Knight Rises should get a bump. Im still skeptical because Dark Knight was one of those cultural benchmarks that will be hard to surpass. It really was the perfect marketing storm.

  61. christian says:

    “Spiderman was huge but some people found it a little over the top. Spiderman 2 was a better movie but the audience from the first didnt all jump on board.”

    Considering the massive box office success of both, and the far more positive reviews for SM 2, how do you figure?

  62. JS Partisan says:

    Story, what’s your malfunction? You are making fun of people who have had strokes now? Wow. Is that winning? Is it? The hot blog: have a strong opinion about something? You’re an asshole. Using all sorts of horrible things to insult people? MAKES YOU A WONDERFUL POSTER ABOVE REPROACH! We also now have dick measuring contest now as well!

    Ang and Paul still make the most sound arguments about why TDK-R is going to get a bump but Ang is sort of ignoring one thing: this Batman film has a chance to be a cultural event as well.

  63. anghus says:

    Js, not ignoring it. Wont know if lightning strikes twice until it happens.

    Christian: spiderman 2 did ten percent less than Spiderman on a higher budget. With better reviews. There was an audience drop of ten percent. Its slight, but its thirty million dollars. That aint chump change.

  64. storymark says:

    JS – No… Im making fun of YOU and that nonsensical response… try and keep up.

    (Nice deflection, BTW, saying that Im mocking stroke victims, though. Are you a Republican now?)

    What “horrible” things have I used? Asking questions of teens….? Pointing out that you chide others for pretending to know the whims of audiences, when you do it yourself virtually every day?

    Yeah, Im soooo mean. Im practically an arch villain.

    Why don’t you go ahead and hoist your cross up a touch higher.

    Still wondering where you came up with the homophobe bullshit…. but I suspect you don’t actually have an answer.

  65. christian says:

    SP 2 set box-office records tho, making 180 million in six days. Nobody in the world thinks of SP-2 as under-performing.

  66. BoulderKid says:

    I think TDK-R will see a decline from TDK. Several have brought up Spiderman. Spiderman was a cultural pheomenom in the same way albeit slightly less so than TDK. It basically made as much as it possibly could. Even though SM2 opened to universal acclaim you just weren’t going to get the same amount of ancillary viewers to come to the theater to see what all the fuss was about.

    I think you’ll see a similar trend with TDK where it makes 5 to 10 percent less than the second film. Also consider that Ledger’s Joker really helped that film. The character was such a tour de force that everyone felt they needed to see his performance for themselves. Ledger’s death only intensified the attention. TDK-R doesn’t seem to have a similar grab.

  67. anghus says:

    It made less than the original spiderman.

    No one said it underperformed. It wasnt as popular as the original.

  68. anghus says:

    I agree with boulder. That assesment feels right.

    Spiderman was lightning striking. None of the sequels were able to replicate it though Spiderman 2 did come close.

    Dark Knight Rises could perform the same way and that seems like the most likely scenario. Less than Dark Knight by ten to twenty percent.

  69. storymark says:

    I think you guys are right. It’ll be big, but 10 percent less seems reasonable. It’s hard to undersell the importance of The Joker. Even my parents went to see TDK, largely to see the Batman/Joker dynamic. Thay couln’t care less about Bane, and are already taking the “wait for video” position.

    I’ll probably see it twice opening day, as I did TDK, but Im a Batman nerd, so Im hardly representative of general audiences.

  70. Martin S says:

    Hey Dave,

    You think with Ross’ departure, we’re going to see a tighter integration of Feige and Marvel?

    I could see Marvel becoming the go-to for most Disney action films, streamlining the majority of productions under Marvel/Pixar/DW and cutting back on the Disney slate.

  71. Martin S says:

    Dark Knight Rises could perform the same way and that seems like the most likely scenario. Less than Dark Knight by ten to twenty percent.

    I would normally agree, because sequels – I’ll stay with superhero to make it relative – usually turns into self-interest projects, (Batman Returns, Spidey 2), or a potluck, (IM2, FF2, Spidey 3).

    But TDKR, for all intents, seems to be going a different way. Every interview I’ve read with a principle player keeps stating that Bane is all physical action compared to Joker’s mind games. If strength is the metaphor for TDKR, we’re looking at huge action sequences. That should make up for no Joker and put it over TDK’s gross.

  72. bulldog68 says:

    But the beauty of TDK was that action was not sacrificed for mind games. It had plenty of both.

  73. JS Partisan says:

    Martin S nails it. Seriously they destroy a football stadium, have epic batpod flying sequences, and then end with an EPIC BRAWL ON THE FOOTSTEPS OF CITY HALL! 10 percent less? Put money down on that in Vegas and say good bye to it, because that’s just not going to happen.

    Oh my god with the fucking Republican deflection nonsense, but this is why you are a jackass; “Why don’t you go ahead and hoist your cross up a touch higher.”

    You still don’t understand that your interpretation of how I have ever felt here holds absolute no bearing to reality. You not getting that is why you are and will forever be a giant jackass. Why did I mention what I did? Seeing if it sticks. Nevertheless, you really give people shit for how they feel and then tell them they shouldn’t feel that way. Which is why your students must love you.

  74. anghus says:

    I don’t think anyone would be floored if Dark Knight Rises did better that Dark Knight. It just feels likes such a longshot for that to happen.

    How many film series go from $200 million for film one to $500+ million for film two. That alone is fucking epic.

    To recreate that kind of success would be unparalleled which is probably why im reluctant to double down.

  75. hcat says:

    Back to Rock of Ages:

    Yes, Mamma Mia was a big hit, I was one of the few that wasn’t suprised by that. But Mamma Mia was a whole different phenom and i doubt that every jukebox musical from here on out will perform the same way. Rock of Ages will be the Daredevil to Mamma Mia’s Spiderman. Same genre but the latters being a household name made it an event release while the former only did a quarter of the monster hits business. If this was a Billy Joel or even Bon Jovi or Madonna musical I could see it cracking a hundred. But Night Ranger and Starship songs? Can not see it having nearly the pull as all the Abba tunes.

  76. JS Partisan says:

    Anghus, Toy Story 3. Seriously. Toy Story 3 is the obvious answer to your question.

    HC, Rock of Ages will probably do better overseas, where those bands still have a following.

  77. Monco says:

    I think everyone is also discounting the draw of Catwoman. In my opinion she has just the same amount of name recognition as Joker. Girls will want to see this movie because of her. Believe me she will be front and center of the marketing once we get closer to July. Most comic book movies are fanboy wankery but this will be one that draws chicks too.

  78. Triple Option says:

    I could see Rock of Ages not doing so well but for different reasons. Abba has only two and a half songs that people really know. Just for years even if you didn’t see the play chances are you at least heard about it and possibly heard someone blather on and on about how great it was, even though he or she wasn’t an Abba fan, except for those two songs.

    I didn’t see the Rock of Ages play but I would be surprised if the vast majority of the people who sat their butts down in the seats would’ve known all but one or two songs. Like backwards, in their sleep, with pictures of the video dancing in their heads. And there in lies the great problem. People don’t need to go out to see a movie based on a play featuring songs they dig. Chances are it won’t create a fond sense of nostalgia but infringe upon memory to which people will fight to not want images of their childhood and adolescence ruined. You don’t sit down and park it under a TV to turn on and leave on MTV for hours on end, hoping to see favorite videos again and again, only to flash forward 25 years to have Tom Cruise ruin it. Which, no offense to Tom, because he’s got his own iconic tie to a song but again, people knew who Bob Seger was before Risky Business but there wasn’t universal image ensconced into Gen X’ collective conscience.

    ETA: hit submit by mistake

    I realize there’s more to the story but I’m not so sure people would want to rush out to see what could be a bastardization of their most beloved treasures. Maybe it’ll spark the nostalgia gene and people will have their own memories to see acted out. I think I’d rather see a movie like The Wedding Singer than see lip syncs of concerts I camped out over night to see. (Such as Def Leppard that I was in the 6th row when they shot the concert where the Pour Some Sugar on Me video was taken -tyvm!)

  79. SamLowry says:

    I’d have to repeat BoulderKid’s assessment: TDK had an enormous ghoul factor attached to it due to Ledger’s death and really, he was the Joker. Bane? Most people don’t know, couldn’t care about him. He’s nowhere near as legendary a character.

    And all-out action? Umm, isn’t Batman supposed to be “the Dark Knight detective”? There’s supposed to be investigation, thinking, tactics–the stinkin’ Batcomputer!–not crap blowing up for 2 hours. If you want that, I’m sure Michael Bay has some piece of schlock heading in your direction soon.

    Jeez, might as well make Sherlock Holmes into an action hero.

  80. Chucky says:

    “Battleship” has already opened outside North America and is a hit. Stateside, military worship in general and Rihanna in particular will make it a box-office smash.

    “Dark Shadows” — which looks like poop based on the preview — may get business from the Barnabas Collins hook. Jonathan Frid filmed a cameo before he died.

    “Rock of Ages” is not “Mamma Mia!” Older audiences won’t go for a movie filled with 80’s rock the way they did for a movie full of ABBA songs.

    “Neighborhood Watch” has bad timing written all over it. For those who don’t follow actual news, George Zimmerman was part of a real-life neighborhood watch group.

    At least I can think without breathing through my mouth. I also don’t write in alphabet soup, keep caps lock on or use profanity. Internet filters do exist.

  81. cadavra says:

    Thus Spake Chucky.

    (BTW, there was no “neighborhood watch group.” Zimmerman was self-appointed. I could appoint myself the new Disney Chairman, but that doesn’t make it so.)

  82. hcat says:

    As soon as the release date gets closer Fox will stress the alien aspect of nieghborhood watch and all the distasteful association with real life events (though like Cadavra I am still amazed with the amount of press outlets that still refer to Zimmerman as a nieghborhood watch guy). I am actually suprised that Fox hasn’t changed the name to Sub-Urban Warfare or something since they pulled what little advance media they had on it.

    ETA: I don’t know any of these people that only know maybe two Abba songs. They are one of the biggest guilty pleasures out there and outside of maybe Queen the band with the most theater ready songs (Wasn’t Chess by one of the quartet after they broke up).

  83. Yancy Skancy says:

    hcat: Benny and Bjorn, the two dudes from ABBA, wrote the music for CHESS; lyrics were by Tim Rice.

    And yeah — while I can’t speak for ‘these kids today,’ ABBA’s continuing popularity since the 70s suggests that more than a couple of their songs were familiar to the masses prior to MAMMA MIA.

  84. Triple Option says:

    I stand corrected, three songs.

  85. Yancy Skancy says:

    Weird to have to defend ABBA’s popularity, but what the heck — their ABBA GOLD album alone has sold over 28 million copies, making it one of the best-selling albums ever. Factor in all their other LPs, singles, DVDs, movies, and stage musicals, as well as cover versions by other artists and freakin’ high school show choirs, and I suspect they’ve penetrated the popular consciousness pretty well. But whether any individual, group or generation knows more than two of their songs is gonna be purely anecdotal, so I don’t suppose there’s any point in arguing about it.

  86. Paul D/Stella says:

    NPR referred to Zimmerman as a neighborhood watch leader yesterday. This a month after they spoke to a guest representing the national neighborhood watch organization (don’t recall its official name). The guest said they had nothing to do with him. Wasn’t it determined more than a month ago that he was acting on his own?

    Anyway I’m also kind of surprised that Fox hasn’t changed the name. The trial may not begin for a year. There might be ebbs and flows in media coverage during that time but the story is not going away. You’d think they’d want to distance themselves from that title.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon