Each year, the summer movie season is ruthless, filled with movies claiming and switching release dates, then studios cannibalizing each other to score a hit. Most of the time, however, there's the gentleman's agreement between all of them to keep the peace and usually release one blockbuster at a time. Part of this strategy comes from some execs watching their fellow producer bomb when they overestimate the broad appeal of their film. In summer, movies die loudly, and they leave scars.
Which is why we've decided to break down most of the summer's offerings, observing exactly what it is about some films that cause them to succeed and fail. This involved number crunching, market analysis, educated guesses, and the application of a few snobby biases. We've separated these groups into obvious hits, less-obvious hits, so-so performers and outright bombs, all comparative to budgets. All gross numbers are global totals unless otherwise specified. Feel free to bookmark this, and check it at the end of the summer.
MegahitsGodzilla – Few summer films have had marketing as impressive as this monster mash, which is seeing release after two more frivolous summer entertainments (Amazing Spider-Man 2, Neighbors). Ads have obscured the monster, but favored the disaster footage, a money-shot heavy approach that likens this picture to, ironically, a film like the ones made by 1998 Godzilla director Roland Emmerich, albeit more serious. That film, by the way, grossed $379 million globally despite being hated by just about everyone. With an inflated overseas market, this thing could be looking at upwards of $200 million domestically, and $600 million global.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Strangely enough, the X-films haven't broke out like other superhero franchises: the highest grossing effort is the $459 million registered by X-Men: The Last Stand. Because it's eight full years later, because the overseas market has changed, because this is in 3D, and because this is following the Fast And Furious model of filling the cast with characters from all previous films, there's reason to believe this film will obliterate that number. Last year's The Wolverine was extremely well-received internationally, grossing $414 million worldwide, but it was a smaller, lower-budgeted affair. This new film promises armies of mutants, killer robots and time travel, basically the exact opposite elements that made The Wolverine the lowest grossing X-film domestically. X-pect (EL OH EL) grosses close to $275 million domestically, and $600 million worldwide.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 - The animated sequel bump doesn't always occur for some films: Kung Fu Panda 2 and Happy Feet Two are two recent examples of animated sequels that lacked the domestic success of the originals. But consider the case of Shrek 2 and Despicable Me 2, and realize that Dreamworks' Dragons franchise has had a presence on television with the Riders Of Berk series, and you're looking at the first animated kid flick of the summer obliterating the original's $494 million take, with possibly a $700 million worldwide tally.
Transformers: Age Of Extinction - Transformers: Dark Of The Moon was weaker domestically than its predecessor, though the strong global numbers took the film over the billion dollar mark. The signs would suggest a slightly shrinking appeal, but no studio dared to challenge this franchise's dominance over the 4th of July weekend. Not only is it opening a full week before Independence Day, but there's very little to challenge the picture on that date, giving Age Of Extinction two full weekends to most likely cross $200 million domestic, on its way to a $300 million franchise-standard domestic gross and at least $800 million worldwide.
Dawn of The Planet Of The Apes – The earlier film was an August surprise, coming out of nowhere to gross $481 million. This one comes two weeks after Transformers dominates the marketplace, and does so with the added strength of 3D, and an arguable upgrade at director in Matt Reeves. This franchise remains beloved by fans – even 2001's hated reboot earned $362 million worldwide – and as they move closer to territory established by the original films, expect new fans and baby boomers to be intrigued, to the tune of $525 million global.