Jul 16, 2020
Hit or Bomb? June 2019 movie predictions
It’s another big summer month of high-profile sequels and reboots, plus one “original” movie that somehow found its way into theaters. Once again, the Agony Booth staff is here to decide which of these movies will be HITs and which will BOMB based solely on the trailers. Our box office Nostradami this time are Thomas Stockel, Julie Kushner, Jordon Davis, Tyler Peterson, and Rick Lewis.
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The Secret Life of Pets 2 (June 7)
In this sequel to the 2016 movie that showed us what our pets do while we’re away, Max the terrier (voiced by Patton Oswalt, replacing Louis C.K. for, um, reasons) gets neurotic after his owner has a baby, and on a family visit to a farm, Max meets a sheepdog (Harrison Ford) who helps him get over his angst. Meanwhile back in the city, Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) embarks on a quest to free a white tiger from the circus.
Thomas S: Apparently, the first made enough money to spawn a franchise. That being said, I think the franchise dies here. BOMB.
Julie: Both the original Secret Life of Pets and Toy Story 3 are part of the top ten highest-grossing animated films of all time, with the latter rounding out the top five and the former earning a very respectable #8. Normally, releasing sequels to these two films in the same month would seem, if not quite box office suicide, at least a really dumb idea. However, this is June, i.e. the month when all the kiddos get out of school, but have not yet started summer camp. That means parents are going to be super-desperate to take them to every movie they possibly can, just to get them out of the house for a couple of hours. And this trailer looks pretty awesome—better than the one for Toy Story 4, even. There, I said it. HIT!
Jordon: Hey, it’s sequel season! And you know the best thing about sequels? They’re just slightly different versions of things that have already been proven to make money! I expect this movie to be almost exactly like the first one (at times whimsical, but mostly kind of a slog). And I expect it to make money like the last one (pretty good, but not as good as the studio might have hoped). HIT.
Tyler: Aarrgh, that hurt. The original Secret Life was benevolent-God-doubtingly bad, and it made 800 million dollars. This looks worse, so according to the transitive property, that means it’ll do better. HIT.
Rick: The trailer for the first one understood exactly what was great about that movie, i.e., the first 20 minutes before the plot kicked in and all the pets left the apartment building. From this trailer, it doesn’t seem like the sequel got the memo, and so this movie will ramp up the madcap “funny” shenanigans out in the wide, wide world rather than concentrating on the good stuff. But I suspect the first 20 minutes will once again make the rest of a “meh” movie worthwhile, so HIT.
Dark Phoenix (June 7)
The tortured continuity of the X-Men movie franchise comes to a Disney-mandated end with this adaptation of one of the most famous Marvel Comics storylines ever. Following an accident in space, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) becomes massively powerful and gives in to her dark side, which tears apart the X-Men and threatens to destroy the entire planet.
Thomas S: Talk about a lame duck. Okay, yes, sure, with the apparent introduction of the multiverse in the new Spider-Man movie, we could see this franchise continue on, perhaps even suggesting that the X-Men universe is slightly out of sync time-wise and remains in the ’90s to keep the cast for another film. But don’t count on it. This is the end of the line for these movies, and judging by what I’m seeing it will BOMB.
Julie: Rename this one Bad Sansa: Lady Stark’s Revenge, and you’ve got yourself a pretty cathartic response film/emotional outlet for everyone who felt like Bran Stark was the worst choice ever to win the Game of Thrones. (Like, I would have been happier with literally anybody else, including Extra #5,067.) Unrelated Game of Thrones quibbles aside, this movie looks not-so-hot, and also, super-expensive? A few years back, tacking the word “X-Men” onto your film was a surefire guarantee for box office success. But now, the franchise itself seems to be a bit past its sell-by date, kind of like the loaf of bread in the back of my refrigerator. I’d still eat it, but only if I slather it with enough other stuff that I don’t have to taste the moldy parts. Baby BOMB.
Jordon: Hey, it’s sequel season! And you know the best thing about sequels? They’re just slightly different versions of things that have already been proven to make money! I expect this movie to be almost exactly like the first one (complete lunacy that doesn’t even have Wolverine in it). And I expect it to make more money than the last one (pretty good, despite being complete lunacy that didn’t even have Wolverine in it). Even after paying whatever insane amount of money Jennifer Lawrence demanded, it’ll still be a HIT.
Tyler: They made this movie already, and everyone hated it! And that one had the benefit of a previous installment that was good! BOMB.
Rick: Fox was already in the middle of making this movie when the studio got eaten by Disney, and so Disney let them finish it up and throw it into theaters, mostly out of pity. Well, pity and because the production budget was 99% already spent. But how can we get excited about the last gasp of a two-seconds-from-dead franchise with Disney already publicly debating how best to reboot it (in the MCU, on its own, or within the Deadpool universe)? Now the correct answer, Disney, is to give me complete editorial control over the property and let me roll out a series of X-Men universe TV shows similar to DC’s Arrow-verse, so that you keep it well away from interfering with your MCU cash cow’s big screen release schedule. I have so many ideas. Call me. Now, what were we talking about again? Oh, that Dark Phoenix thing. Let’s see, a $200 million budget, zero Wolverines, and zero Deadpools. BOMB.
Men in Black: International (June 14)
The Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones franchise gets a reboot with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson serving as agents in the London branch of a top-secret anti-alien police force, which assigns the pair to travel around the globe battling a shapeshifting army called the Hive.
Thomas S: While it might have been a good idea to retire most of the actors from MIB III and replace them with an equally competent cast, I don’t see this film bringing anything new to the table. Still, it’s going to be a HIT, albeit a minor one.
Julie: Kudos to Thor for dropping his Avengers: Endgame weight and deciding to head off with Valkyrie to fight more aliens in other realms! Oh, wait… you mean this isn’t actually an Avengers movie? It’s actually a sequel to the three-quel from 2012, except with both leads playing the Tommy Lee Jones stern-faced character, and neither playing the Will Smith joke-cracking character? BOMB. (But that little alien guy with the red hat is adorable. Spin-off for Red Hat Alien, please!)
Jordon: Hey, it’s sequel season! And you know the best thing about sequels? They’re just slightly different versions of things that have already been proven to make money! In this case, we get two for the price of one. It’s a sequel to both Men in Black and Thor: Ragnarok. I expect this movie to be a nice refresh of the series, which was getting old. And I expect it to make more money than the last one. HIT.
Tyler: Tessa Thompson isn’t great at acting, but she’s great at wearing suits. HIT.
Rick: At last everyone understands that Chris Hemsworth is best in comedies, not action or dramas! Yeah, he’s buff, but he only shines when he’s funny, and he’s very fucking funny. Too bad he’s taking over someone else’s abandoned franchise here. It’s probably the best they could do to breathe new life into MIB, but why bother? It’s not like the second or third MIB flicks left anyone begging for more. Hemsworth should be launching a new property, but he ain’t, so here we are. Modest HIT.
Toy Story 4 (June 21)
Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) and the whole gang are back again, dealing with a dilemma after their new owner Bonnie creates a homemade toy called Forky. When Bonnie’s family goes on a road trip, Forky gets lost and Woody searches for him, along the way reuniting with his old friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and gaining a new outlook on what it means to be a toy.
Thomas S: I have no idea what else this series can say, but apparently we’ve got more life lessons to learn. I didn’t see the third, have no desire to see the fourth, but enough kids will drag their parents to this to make it a HIT.
Julie: Well, now I’m just left feeling hurt that my childhood toys didn’t care enough about me to rescue all the beloved objects that I lost as a kid. What does little Bonnie have that I don’t? (Rainbow Heart Care Bear, Strawberry Shortcake, and Mutzy the Stuffed Dog, I’m talking to you!) This movie will do great, obviously. And it will be heartfelt, and warm, and contain wonderful life lessons for parents to share with their kids and yadda yadda yadda. I still liked the Secret Life trailer better, but HIT!
Jordon: Okay, I’m having some problems with this one. You see, I consider Toy Story 3 to be probably the best trilogy-ender of all time. It’s a perfect meditation on aging and death. Remember when they all hold hands in the incinerator? I cried for, like, a year and a half after that. So Pixar had better not be pulling out old characters just for the cash. This movie had better goddamned bring it. I can’t tell if it will from the trailer. But cartoons are cheap, so no matter how much it might desecrate all that I consider holy, HIT.
Tyler: I gotta say I’m kind of disappointed at Disney/Pixar for dragging this series out. It had a natural endpoint in Toy Story 3, and now just looks like it’s treading water. I can’t see it not being a HIT, though.
Rick: It can’t help but be good, and a HIT.
Annabelle Comes Home (June 26)
In the… is it the eighth now?… installment in the Conjuring franchise, the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) bring the possessed doll Annabelle home and lock her safely behind sacred glass. Unfortunately, their daughter’s babysitters pay little heed to the sign reading “Demonology – Witchcraft – DANGER!” and free the doll, unleashing a night of holy horror on everyone.
Thomas S: In the fifth sequel to come out this month, we’ve got a horror movie I don’t think anybody was asking for. But these films are done on a small budget, so expect it to recoup enough money to cover expenses and then some. A minor HIT.
Julie: Remember that scene at the beginning of The Cabin in the Woods where the college kids enter a basement filled with cliched “demonic objects” and (seven-year old movie spoiler alert) the Directors/Horror God Sacrificers run an office pool as to which specific object the dumb coeds will accidentally meddle with first? This trailer kind of reminded me of that scene. Except now, instead of just one object, every single item in this room will eventually not only be meddled with, but go on to spawn seven horror films based on it. And each of those films, no matter how utterly crappy, will somehow end up being a box office success. Welcome to the Multiverse, Annabelle. HIT!
Jordon: Hey, it’s sequel season! And you know the best thing about sequels? They’re just slightly different versions of things that have already been proven to make money! I expect this movie to be almost exactly like the first five movies (which I did not and will never see). And I expect it to make money like all of them (because horror is cheap and distribution is wide). HIT.
Tyler: I guess it really shouldn’t surprise that a movie series about a couple of scam artists would succeed in making a lot of money from idiots. HIT.
Rick: It can’t help but be bad, and a HIT.
Yesterday (June 28)
To reiterate from my recap of the Otherworld episode with a similar premise: An aspiring musician (Himesh Patel) has a freak accident and wakes up in a parallel reality where the Beatles never existed. He proceeds to pass off the Fab Four’s compositions as his own, riding the strengths of the Lennon-McCartney songbook to instant fame and fortune.
Thomas S: While it’s true that the premise isn’t original, I still think it’s unique enough for today’s audiences to generate interest. Call it another minor HIT.
Julie: For anyone who’s ever dreamed they could go back in time and say, write the Harry Potter books before JK Rowling, or invent the iPhone before Steve Jobs, this seems like the ultimate wish fulfillment film. It’s also a bit high-concept for summer film fare. This is generally the time of year that people go to the movies to watch “Sexy People” and “Big Special Effects Go Boom/Smash”, not engage in philosophical what-if exercises regarding where their lives went wrong. BOMB (but I’ll probably see it anyway).
Jordon: Hey, it’s sequel season! And you know the best thing about s… wait, this isn’t a sequel? It’s a truly original and heartfelt little British film? True, the reviews are middling, but it was probably pretty cheap to make. Half the movie’s budget went to song rights. It’ll earn back its budget in Great Britain alone before it even makes it to the US. It’ll be the Endgame Avatar Titanic of the UK. I wish the reviews were better, and releasing it in the summer is just weird. Still: HIT.
Tyler: So you can just neatly pluck the Beatles out of the timeline like that? I have so many questions. Is rock music still popular? Does the British Invasion still happen with no Beatles? Do the individual Beatles still have solo careers? Do most music groups in the Beatle-less future still write most of their own material without the Beatles to set the precedent? Does the LP format and indeed the entire artistic concept of the “album” persist with no Beatles to popularize it? Are all or any of the genres the Beatles helped create (to say nothing of groups they inspired like Badfinger or ELO) still around? What about any of the recording techniques the Beatles pioneered? I don’t mean to get off on a tear, I just want to illustrate how fluffy and vacuous this whole concept is. And I think most audiences will agree, if not for the precise reasons I cited. BOMB.
Rick: Pretty schmaltzy stuff for summer fare. And boring. Kind of like the song “Yesterday”, which is about the least inspiring and energizing Beatles song you could have picked to name your Beatles movie after. BO-yawn-MB.
How’d we do on last month’s predictions?
Budget: $183M | Earnings to date: $186M | Projected total earnings: $270-300M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: You ain’t never had a HIT like me.
John Wick 3: Parabellum
Budget: $75M | Earnings to date: $126M | Projected total earnings: $145M
Prediction: 100% said HIT (5 of 5)
Reality: HIT, man
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Budget: $170M | Earnings to date: $48M | Projected total earnings: $130-140M
Prediction: 80% said HIT (4 of 5)
Reality: BOMB, domestically
Pokémon Detective Pickachu
Budget: $150M | Earnings to date: $133M | Projected total earnings: $150M
Prediction: 80% said HIT (4 of 5)
Reality: While the studio’s gotta be thrilled, by Agony Booth standards a movie that doesn’t exceed its production budget at the domestic box office is considered a gotta-catch-’em-BOMB
Budget: $6M | Earnings to date: $14M | Projected total earnings: $20M
Prediction: 60% said HIT (3 of 5)
Reality: Small(ville) HIT
FINAL SCORE: 3 right, 2 wrong
How movies are judged:
- The 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.
- The 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).