With the opening Friday of Iron Man 3, the summer movie season is officially launched, Will the Marvel superhero so indelibly portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. blast Hollywood out of its winter-spring doldrums and launch the summer movie season into the stratosphere?
The forecast looks bright. Deadline Hollywood reports that Iron Man 3 is currently Fandango’s top advance ticket-seller of the year to date, and that it could bring in up to $180 million domestically in its opening weekend. Combined with international box office (the film opened overseas April 24), Iron Man 3 could bring in $650 million through Sunday, analysts estimate.
The summer movie season is to theatre owners what the winter holiday season is to retailers. It can make or break the year. Traditionally, it has kicked off over the Memorial Day weekend, but, as with the Christmas selling season, it has in recent years creeped earlier on the calendar. For theatre owners, it cannot come quick enough. The movie business is in a slump following a less than stellar first quarter. Without a blockbuster attraction like last year’s spring release The Hunger Games to lure moviegoers with many other viewing options, box office is down 12 percent.
Send in the superheroes, sequels and superstars. Next weekend brings Leonardo DiCaprio in what looks like a feverdream adaptation of The Great Gatsby, followed on May 17 by the hotly-anticipated sequel to the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Star Trek Into Darkness.
The weeks to follow will bring a steady stream of wannabe blockbusters, along with potential word of mouth sleepers that will break through the sound and fury of typical summer fare and reaffirm the oft-quoted movie business maxim first offered by screenwriter William Goldman: “Nobody knows anything.”
Theatre owners recently got their first look at some of the summer’s most anticipated films at the recent CinemaCon gathering, a movie business mecca at which the studios trotted out their A-list stars (Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford, Adam Sandler) to hype their upcoming releases and to offer sneak peeks.
The verdicts? According to Variety, Star Trek Into Darkness, the zombie epic World War Z starring Pitt, Fast and Furious 6, The Long Ranger and Pixar’s Monsters Inc. sequel Monsters University were well received by theater owners as was Paul Feig’s follow-up to Bridesmaids, The Heat, an R-rated odd couple comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, and one of the few female-driven films of the summer.
What’s coming out when? Here is a partial summer movie calendar:
May 3: Iron Man 3
May 10: The Great Gatsby
May 17: Star Trek Into Darkness
May 24: Fast and Furious 6, The Hangover 3, Before Midnight, the nine-years-on sequel starring a reunited Ethan Hawke and Julia Delpy
May 31: After Earth starring Will Smith and son Jaden
June 7: Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing from the director of…The Avengers!
June 12: This is the End starring Seth Rogan and James Franco
June 14: Man of Steel, The Bling Ring
June 21: Monster University, World War Z
June 28: White House Down, The Heat
July 3: Despicable Me 2, The Lone Ranger
July 5: The Way Way Back from the writers of The Descendents
July 12: Grown Ups 2, Pacific Rim
July 19: RED 2
July 26: The Wolverine, Fruitvale (a Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize award-winner)
July 31: The Smurfs 2
August 9: Elysium starring Matt Damon, Disney’s Planes, We’re the Millers starring Jennifer Aniston
August 16: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
August 23: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones The World’s End from the director and stars of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.