Toy Story 3 offered Hollywood something it hasn’t had much of lately: good news at the box office.
Simply put, movies have been “underperforming” or tanking left and right. Shrek Forever After and Sex and the City 2 are struggling, while Killers, Marmaduke, Prince of Persia, Splice, Knight and Day and Robin Hood have just flat-out bombed. Even Grown-Ups took about five stars to pull in anything above $25 million. In short, it’s a summer of bombs, and now Hollywood is wondering if anything will turn it around. Here’s what’s coming and our odds of how likely it’ll be to tank. We’re leaving out the absolute guarantees, like Toy Story 3 and Eclipse, but everything else is fair game.
Inception (July 16th)
We’re going to take a gamble here and say Inception is going to be the one big winner. In a summer that’s pretty loud and, not to put too fine a point on it, tacky, this is a movie with a classy director and a superb cast. Warner Brothers is essentially trying to market a classy thriller amid all the noise, and Inception has the advantage of being something fairly fresh and new from a director both the public and the critics respect. Not to mention a $200 million budget and an elaborate marketing campaign. Warners is betting an awful lot, and we’re thinking it’ll pay off.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (July 16th)
Does Nic Cage even qualify as a star anymore? Does anybody actually go to see a movie because he’s in it? Or is Hollywood just clinging desperately to any possibility of making money? This is a summer where retreads and knock-offs aren’t doing well, and it’s hard to see a knock-off of Harry Potter doing remotely well, especially since Disney’s attempts to tie it to Fantasia are painfully weak. Jay Baruchel already had his turn at bat with She’s Out of My League, which even inescapable trailers couldn’t turn into a hit, and we’re pretty sure Inception is going finish the lousy summer Prince of Persia started for Jerry Bruckheimer.
Salt (July 23rd)
Well, the trailers look good, and Angelina Jolie does consistently well in action chick mode. Granted, the movie doesn’t look high in the comedy department, but the serious tone might do well for it in a summer choked with lighthearted cuddly movies about shooting people (for example, Killers). Maybe people just want a straightforward string of butt-kicking scenes, and this looks like it’ll make with the goods.
Ruling: Underperforms at Worst
Dinner for Schmucks (July 30th)
Steve Carell and Paul Rudd are a pretty unbeatable combo, but we’re not entirely sure they’re unbeatable enough in a summer like this. And the entire concept of this movie just feels painful. Steve Carrel plays a great doofus, but his doofuses are always carefully pitched towards believeability; his Maxwell Smart was actually pretty intelligent, he was just possessed of a desk jockey mindset, for example. Here’s he’s basically playing one of Michael Scott’s improv character writ large. And Rudd just looks like he needs some Preparation H.
The Other Guys (August 6th):
Will Farrell has been having a rough time at the box office, lately, but we’re pretty sure this ’80s throwback will appeal to audiences, especially since Salt has had two weeks to dissolve. That and the trailers? Actually funny.
Eat Pray Love (August 13th):
Betting against Julia Roberts is always a bad idea, especially with a hit book behind her.
The Expendables (August 13th):
Either featuring just about every action star from the ’80s will be an unbeatable smorgasbord, or this’ll be seen only by a handful of nerds nostalgic for the Reagan era. We’re betting it falls somewhere in between. There are just enough stars in here, from every constellation in the Zodiac of manliness, that pretty much any guy is going to want to see this movie. Still, that’s generally not enough to overwhelm the date movie, as a general rule.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (August 13th):
We’re going to get a lot of flack from Scott Pilgrim fans for this one, not to mention Edgar Wright fans, but this just feels like the kind of movie that gets great reviews and that maybe ten people go see. The sound effects layered onto the fights give it a campy feel that might not work for wider audiences. The movie itself is an adaptation of an obscure comic book that only notoriously fickle hipsters love, and the marketing unfortunately emphasizes this. Which means we, reluctantly, say:
What do you think? What movies do you think will or won’t bomb?