Jan 15, 2020
Hit or Bomb? July 2017 movie predictions
Welcome to July! This looks to be another big blockbuster month, so let’s get right to it. Once again, we at the Agony Booth are here to judge which releases this month will be HITs and which ones will BOMB based solely on watching the trailers. And as always, make sure to stick around after the predictions to find out how well we did in our May predictions. (Read our June 2017 movie predictions here.)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
Months after being shoehorned into the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) works with his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) to fight crime as Spider-Man, while also trying to carry on as a normal high school student. But Peter’s powers are put to the test when he has to face the Vulture (Birdman star Michael Keaton, now being called upon to actually play a birdman).
Tyler: This is a no-brainer. People are excited as shit for this movie. It’s not an origin story, it covers new thematic territory for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s got an appealing young star, it’s got plenty of characteristic MCU snappy banter, and it’s got more than its fair share of Downey doing his flubberty druthers. HIT.
Thomas R: What’s this? A Spider-Man movie where Peter actually looks like a high school student? What kind of sorcery is this? Seriously though, it’s good to see Peter’s youth being made a significant factor in the plot’s themes, and I like the direction they’re going with Tony Stark as a flawed mentor figure. MEGAHIT.
Jordon: I have no idea if the world really wants a third Spider-Man in his sixth movie in 15 years. But it’s part of the MCU and Wonder Woman has restored people’s faith in superhero movies. It will be a HIT.
Thomas S: Am I the only one getting a little tired of Tony Stark? I have all the respect in the world for Robert Downey Jr, but his presence in this movie just feels like Sony and Disney don’t have a great deal of faith in their new franchise. Still, this is going to be a definite HIT based largely on Tom Holland’s performance in Civil War, and the excellent casting choice of Michael Keaton as the Vulture.
Rick: With great power comes giddy excitement at how awesome it is to be a freakin’ superhero, and it’s about damn time. Get ready for all the quips and thwips you can handle. HIT.
War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)
Those damn, dirty apes are at it again in this third entry in the Planet of the Apes prequel series, as Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ape cronies are forced into a deadly conflict with a human army led by a colonel played by Woody Harrelson. Meanwhile, a mute human girl named Nova (a callback to another mute character in the 1968 original) raised by apes might be the key to peace between the species.
Tyler: I’ve already written about how this franchise seems to find more and more success the less distinctive it becomes. Dawn outperformed Rise by iterating as many dystopian clichés as it could, so it only makes sense that they’re doubling down. HIT.
Thomas R: Oh dear. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a fun B-movie that did a nice job of addressing its story’s philosophical issues without hammering them into our heads. The sequel, sadly, was a drab self-serious actioner and it looks like this one will be no different, complete with clichéd lines such as “I did not start this war…but I will finish it.” But hey, at least we have Woody Harrelson to lighten things up a bit in his scenery-chewing mode. HIT.
Jordon: I have no interest in a fourth Apes movie, just like I had no interest in the first three. It’ll clear about $150 million which, unbelievably, will make it a BOMB. Thank goodness for on-demand rentals, or this would never see any sort of profit at all.
Thomas S: Man, I am just not feeling this franchise. If you want to know why, then go read Tyler’s outstanding article to get the gist for how I feel about these movies; it was creepy how he seemed to read my mind. I think the movie isn’t going to do all that well. Will it go as far as being a BOMB? Eh, since it’s an either/or question, I’m going with yes, it’s going to underperform at the box office.
Rick: The trailer is some pretty generic macho war bullshit, but the early reviews say it’s entertaining and relevant. HIT.
Dunkirk (July 21)
The first non-Batman and non-sci-fi effort from director Christopher Nolan in quite some time tells the true story of the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France in 1940 while surrounded by the German army. Features an all-star British/Irish cast including Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles, and many more.
Tyler: They seem to be banking pretty hard on Christopher Nolan’s cachet as a modern-day auteur. I don’t think it’s going to work. Perhaps one American in eighty could say with any certainty what happened at Dunkirk. It doesn’t have any Americans in it. And it doesn’t end in the kind of clear-cut victory that Americans demand out of their war epics. I smell a mild BOMB.
Thomas R: Although I’ve liked almost all of his films, I’ll be the first to admit that Christopher Nolan’s super-seriously somber style can be hard to like, especially when dealing with sci-fi and comic book stories. Judging by this trailer, that style looks perfectly suited to a historical WWII movie about a costly Allied defeat: Sober, ominous, and appropriately grim, with a star-studded cast that manages to blend in without being distracting. Whether you like or dislike Nolan, you have to respect the fact that he’s practically the only director working today whose very name guarantees a box-office HIT.
Jordon: There’s nothing that says summer like the bare survival of English soldiers fleeing in defeat from the Germans. This will BOMB over the summer, but get respectable numbers during its re-release at Oscar-season, which is when it should have been released in the first place.
Thomas S: Oh, this cast. Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Brannagh, and Mark Rylance. And directed by Christopher Nolan. I want this movie to succeed; I’m desperate for this movie to blow people away. But are people willing to see a war epic these days? I don’t know. I’m going with HIT just because I’m hoping the positive waves induce people to go see a good old-fashioned war movie.
Rick: This looks impressive as hell. Absolutely masterful filmmaking. And while that may earn you Oscars, it doesn’t necessarily earn you money. I worry this is going to struggle against what was obviously a huge budget, but not enough to bet against it. HIT.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)
Director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Lucy) adapts a French comic series into a big budget special effects extravaganza starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as two 28th Century operatives charged with keeping the peace throughout the human territories. They’re sent on a mission to the titular city of Alpha to defeat a dark force that is of course threatening the entire universe.
Tyler: Risky business, this. They’ve poured a gargantuan amount of money into a movie based on a property familiar in Europe but pretty much nowhere else, directed by a man with a very spotty record, and starring an actor who’s never headlined a successful film (as I said about A Cure for Wellness back in February). I think it’ll BOMB; not horribly, but enough.
Thomas R: “A vision a lifetime in the making”. “A spectacular 3-D Event”. Glowing blue mushrooms and aliens with long electric hair tendrils. Is anyone else getting Avatar flashbacks? Much like that film, this will probably be very pretty to look at but narratively indistinguishable from the average post-Star Wars space opera. Unlike Avatar, however, it’s likely going to suffer from competition with Dunkirk and end up an expensive BOMB.
Jordon: I want to like this movie, I really do. But the budget is way too high and its director has never delivered a blockbuster. His true ability lies in making people scratch their heads and say, “What the hell was that?” Due to its lunatic budget, it will BOMB.
Thomas S: Ladies and gentlemen, please go see this movie, if anything to prove to Hollywood that a science fiction film without the word “Star” in the title can succeed. Like Dunkirk, I so very much hope the film performs well at the box office. I’m saying HIT, and hoping I don’t miss.
Rick: Easily the biggest gamble by any studio this year. Throwing $220 million at an unknown property with an unwieldy title is crazy. And with Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy churning out sequels, is there room for another epic space saga? I want the answer to be yes, not just because I love sci-fi, but because I want movie studios to take more gambles on new ideas. So I’m gonna say HIT, but I don’t really believe it.
Atomic Blonde (July 28)
(Red-band trailer – NSFW)
It’s 1989, and the final days of the Berlin Wall, and Charlize Theron is an MI6 operative dispatched to Germany to take down an espionage ring, which is all set to a soundtrack full of ‘80s new wave classics. Also, she winds up having a lesbian love affair with a French agent played by Sofia Boutella, because who could possibly complain about that?
Tyler: This movie looks like the best kind of trash. Charlize is at the top of her action game, the fight choreography looks tremendous, and they’ve nailed the retro aesthetic. I foresee a huge sleeper HIT.
Thomas R: I was going to express reservations about fetishized lesbian sex and the male gaze, but at some point between the exquisitely violent tracking shot and the Queen soundtrack, my critical circuits fizzled and my senses are now ready to be ravished in unimaginable ways. Make this one a modest domestic HIT.
Jordon: Another movie that’s just wrong for the summer. It’s too immersed in its genre for mass appeal. BOMB.
Thomas S: Is there something wrong with me that watching Charlize Theron beat men arouses me just a little bit? I don’t care. HIT.
Rick: This movie is clearly trying so hard to be cool… and succeeds. That’s crazy hard to pull off. HIT.
The Emoji Movie (July 28)
It’s a movie about a CGI-rendered emoji (T.J. Miller) living inside a smartphone, who aspires to be something more than an emoji. Do I really need to add anything else here?
Tyler: The Angry Birds movie made 350 million dollars. This is the world we live in now. HIT.
Thomas R: What little sliver of potential for satire appears to have been killed dead by yet another Disney-light “be yourself” plot that’s clearly being played straight, barring some miraculous LEGO Movie-style attempt at subversion. Sadly, expect this to be a HIT because kids love bright colors and poop jokes and life is pain and we’re all going to die.
Jordon: One can only hope that Cars 3 and Despicable 3M or whatever have slaked the thirst of those horrible trolls, um, children. Sony Pictures Animation is not an outfit that’s turning out movies of any quality. Let us all join hands and pray for this movie to BOMB.
Thomas S: Fuck this movie. BOMB.
Rick: Painfully derivative of The LEGO Movie, right down to the title. From a writer/director whose IMDb profile is a list of direct-to-DVD sequels of mediocre animated movies. On-the-nose narration that spoon-feeds the audience. Everything about this screams half-assed cash grab. BOMB.
And here’s how we did last month (thanks once again to Rick for compiling this list!):
Budget: $149M | Earnings to date: $318M | Projected total earnings: $375-400M
Predictions: 100% HIT (6 of 6)
Budget: $175M | Earnings to date: $99M | Projected total earnings: $140-160M
Predictions: 33% HIT (2 of 6)
Reality: BOMB (due to the ridiculously outsized budget)
Budget: $125M | Earnings to date: $69M | Projected total earnings: $80-90M
Predictions: 33% HIT (2 of 6)
Budget: $20M | Earnings to date: $17M | Projected total earnings: $20-25M
Predictions: 33% HIT (2 of 6)
Reality: Just barely a BOMB
Transformers: The Last Knight
Budget: $217M | Earnings to date: $69M | Projected total earnings: $130-160M
Predictions: 33% HIT (2* of 6)
Reality: BOMB, domestically
(*Okay, yes, technically four of our box office gurus put HIT in all-caps in their predictions, but two of them specified that it would only be a hit overseas.)
We also unanimously predicted Despicable Me 3 will be a HIT, but it doesn’t open until Friday.
FINAL SCORE: 5 right, 0 wrong (and 1 still to come).
How movies are judged:
- Agony Booth judges a movie to be a HIT if we project that it will significantly exceed its production budget in domestic (U.S and Canada) box office earnings. Our rule of thumb is +20%, but this may slide up or down based on the marketing budget.
- Agony Booth only considers domestic box office total, because the share of international ticket sales that ends up with the studio varies not just from studio to studio, but often from movie to movie (although this is less true than it used to be).