Summer season has arrived, nothing more box office could have wished for as it promises one over another blockbusters. 2012 maintains its lead over 2011 but fell short last outing due to a rather disappointing domestic April though it saw surprisingly good hits across the world. May has been the official start of the summer movie season. Why is this season important? Summer is a season where huge, expensive movies come out and generate lots of money. Naturally almost any big movie can be found between May to July months or early August. Plus you get to see them one over another every weekend or the demand is high but the supply is even better. Almost any movie can shine during this period if it can generate enough interest.
May is a month that starts summer and thus some of the most anticipated movies tend to open over its first week. Currently superheroes have taken over this slot opening for past five years. Last year Thor showered this slot but could not restrict Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to steal the thunder. The most impressive things in May 2011 were The Hangover 2's opening and the strong sustanance of Bridesmaids and Fast Five. May 2010 though failed to meet expectations when other than Iron Man 2 nothing delivered to its potential including the franchise movies like Shrek Forever After, Sex and the City 2 along with wanna be franchises like Robin Hood, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Action movies tend to do great this month and comedies can perform well though very recently animated or family movies are having tough time.
After four years of marketing with five movies Marvel and Disney brings the ensemble of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk along with Black Widow and Hawkeye in The Avengers. The anticipation is very high to see this legendary teaming of superheroes and with 3D and IMAX boosting its ticket price Avengers should easily open as one of the biggest movies of all time over its first 3-day weekend domestically, just how big is yet to be seen. It has started its international run with huge $170+ million opening week that broke records in many countries for a superhero movie and in some countries it became all time biggest opening. Individually Iron Man lead the pack generating two big hits with $300 million domestic and more that $550 million Worldwide take each, Thor and Captain America both failed to make $200 million domestically last summer but were decent hits worldwide making $450 million and $368 million respectively. Hulk has already got two movies but neither has been a good success whereas Black Widow and Hawkeye have yet to see their own movie. The reviews for the movie have been great, one of the best for a superhero movie (96% at RottenTomatoes and currently 8.9 MetaCritic and #26 at IMDb's Top 250 after 41,000 ratings). The tracking is pointing to huge numbers around $150 million plus some more over opening weekend domestically it seems that last summers' Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2's opening weekend record of $169.2 million could be in contention here.
Warner Bros. teams up Tim Burton and Johnny Depp yet again for adaption of 1966 TV series Dark Shadows with the same title. The movie revolves around Depp's Barnabas who returns after being turned into vampire and burried alive to protect his dysfunctional remnants and save his ruined estate. The marketing kicked off a little late but has been aggressive since then. The famed duo has had been very effective but the source material is not very well known and is comparatively darker to big hits like Alice in Wondeland. The buzz for this movie is not very big but Depp has his own fan following which would guarantee a decent if not big opening after which the movie's quality will be deciding factor to its total. The movie opens just after Avengers which might not be a good spot but it is being sold as vampire comedy which can counter with the former, how big it can become will depend on the quality of the movie itself.
Universal brings mega-budgeted big-screen adaptation of the famous board game Battleship with the same title. The movie is being soled by its connection to Hasbro and Transformers name, the previews clearly showing city destruction and alien machines similar to the later. The buzz is nowhere close to Transformers which have had much bigger appeal among males as well as families plus its premise does not need any tweaks. Battleship board game is just about finding the hidden ship with no connection to aliens the movie version had to add aliens to expand its appeal and action value. The movie rolled out in number of Overseas markets a month earlier than its domestic release date and has done solid business generating $170 million but was impacted recently with Avengers rising. Battleship promises to be popcorn movie that suits summer and it has a good gap after Avengers plus Memorial-Day weekend to boost its sophomore weekend. The movie still has an uphill battle to climb with its reported $200-$250 million budget though it should pass the lead Taylor Kitsch's John Carter easily and might bring some money for the studios if it does well in rest of its overseas markets.
Paramount releases the Sacha Baron Cohen The Dictator on Wednesday moving it 5 days in the last minute after Dark Shadows previews turned out more funny than not. The maketing has been very clever and who can forget the Oscar red carpet stunt that Cohen pulled in promotion of the movie. The actors previous two movies Borat and Bruno were very successful for R-rated movies which this movie also shares. It is very difficult to gauge the interest on these kind of movies as more often than not the interest does not result in box office ticket sales. Plus the movie is releasing too close to Dark Shadows which has started to pick interest. Cohen though not a huge draw himself has built in fanbase for his comedies though reaching the success of Borat would be very difficult, Bruno numbers are more reachable.
Lionsgate is expecting Bridesmaids type of attraction from female crowds by delivering What to Expect When You're Expecting. Based on the best selling books by Heidi Murkoff this ensemble starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, Elizabeth Banks and Anna Kendrick deals with challenges of impending parenthood. Pregnancy comedies like Knocked Up and Juno have succeded in the past but ensemble rom-coms have taken backstage with last December's New Year's Eve failing to capitalize on Valentine's Days' success. While the trailers are effective as a comedy the movie might act only as counter-programming to big Summer tentpoles. The interest converting into box office tickets is also not sure because younger female crowd might not be interested to see this over big screen. The good news for it is that Five Year Engagement did not spark much interest which means this will be the only female targetted attraction over the month.
Sony is trying to revive its ten-year dormant series with a second sequel to Men in Black with MIB 3 sending Agent Jay back in time. The Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones starter is joined by Josh Brolin who will play younger Agent Kay. The original movie was a great success but the first sequel failed to register with the audience. Bringing the aliens in 3D was an obvious choice to boost the natural decrease of audience over ten years. Will Smith who is a big draw has been absent from big screen since 2008's Seven Pounds, add to the fact that it is the only big opener for Memorial-Day weekend gives the movie chance for a great opening from a very good release date. Getting to original's unadjusted total of $250.7 million would be an uphill battle but if it fails to come close to Men in Black II's $190.4 million then it would be major disappointment.
Warner Bros last minute horror entry to May's schedule Chernobyl Diaries will try captivating on an empty market and relatively lesser number of releases over the month. The movie seems to confused of being found-footage or straight horror movie which is generally not a good sign. Last December's The Darkest Hour also looked similarly out of place, this one does not have an empty market because of overlap between horror and alien fans with MIB 3 releasing. The good thing is that Memorial-Day weekend can absorb both of them together and Summer weekdays will definitely boost its total. The afterlife might not be as great because Memorial-Day openers fall quite hard in sophomore weekend along with natural opening rush factor for horror movies this could be a nasty fall, over the following weekend its audience will be taken away by Prometheus.
While summers are majorly headlined by big studio tentpoles there are always some good unnoticed limited releases that surprise with amazing sustanance power. Fox Searchlight brings The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel a story about few British retirees deciding to outsource their retirement to much cheaper and enticing hotel in India. The movie targetted for older audience has already generated $66 million in overseas markets getting mostly positive reviews. This could become a good counter to the explosive summer movies if played and expanded appropriately by the studio. The most intriguing release of the lot is Weinstein Company's French comedy The Intouchables that has made $328 million in its international release becoming one of the biggest movies in France as well Germany. It is the biggest international film of 2012 at the end of April and second highest foreign-language movie ever behind The Passion of the Christ goes to show how big an international phenomenon the movie has become. The movie has shown very strong sustenance power in the markets it has been released which is always a good sign for expansion from limited release. Focus Features presents Moonrise Kingdom a comedy about a run-away couple that turns the town upside down. The Wes Anderson written-directed movie boasts an all star cast including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Kaitel, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray. It will surely bring Anderson fans out and all his movies do quite well in expansions reaching a decent total.
Also coming out is Miley Cyrus starer LOL (2012) which a coming of age comedy, remake of 2008 French Film of the same title. The movie has already been released in India and Singapore with disappointing results and poor reviews plus Lionsgate doesn't seem to be giving it the necessary marketing push. Kate Hudson stars in tear-jerker A Little Bit of Heaven about irreverent young woman who uses humor from getting serious after she is diagonised with cancer. The movie has also rolled out in some overseas markets with lukewarm reviews which will prevent it from bigger expansions plus Millenium Entertainment is not well known for better results. Lionsgate is also releasing Girl in Progress starring Eva Mendes as Grace a single mother with financial problems having troubles connecting with her daughter. It would need really strong reviews and early start to expand over more than a few theaters. Sony classics bring British period romantic comedy Hysteria about the invention of the first vibrator in name of medical science. The Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy starer did not generate much spark in its European release and the same might be expected of its United States run. IFC pushes canadian movie The Samaritan about a grifter having difficulty leaving behind past while starting new life with a younger woman. The cast of Samuel Jackson and Tom Wilkinson is great but these movies generally tend to do better in home media.
May 2011 made a record breaking $1.037 billion ending up as the biggest May ever increasing a whooping 14.5% over 2010 starting a strong summer. Pirates and Thor led the month but it was The Hangover Part 2's opening that was the most impressive. This year has The Avengers that will be bigger than any last May movie though it would require every wide released movie to reach their upper if not maximum potential to gain over 2011. Lookout for my next start of summer edition Movies 2012 - June