Hit or Bomb? May 2017 movie predictions
It’s the start of another month, and time again for another round of box office predictions. But this time around, our predictions should be way easier than usual, because May, for all intents and purposes, is now the official kickoff of the summer blockbuster movie season, which finds the major studios all rolling out their top shelf, A game, guaranteed box office smash material. Right? Right?
So once again, we at the Agony Booth are teaming up to make snap judgments about which films released in May will be HITs and which ones will BOMB based solely on watching the trailers. Your Agony Booth box office gurus this time around are: Jonathan Campbell, Jordon Davis, Julie Kushner, Thomas Ricard, Thomas Stockel, Tyler Peterson, and Rick Lewis. And make sure to stick around after the predictions to see how well we did last month! (Read our April movie predictions here!)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
In this sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Baby Groot, and Rocket Raccoon are all back to save the galaxy once again, as they rock out to Awesome Mixtape #2 and unravel the mystery of who Peter Quill’s father really is (he’s Kurt Russell).
Thomas S: Call me crazy, but I think this l’il indie flick might find itself an audience this May. I’m guessing it’s going to make back its budget and a tiny bit more, so I’m going to say HIT.
Jordon: Well, let’s see. The first one made $777,000,000.00 worldwide. This movie is required viewing for anyone who hopes to understand Avengers: Infinity War. And it’s currently sitting at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think it’s safe to say that this will be a MEGA-HIT. It won’t just be popular—it may end up being the basis for a new religion.
Jonathan: The first one was one of the better movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but still retained some of its usual problems: while it was funny, witty, and had decent action, characters, and special effects, the plot was average, the villain disappointing, and the film erred too much on the side of comedy over drama. This looks like more of the same, though it promises to expand the world building a bit and answer some lingering questions. Given the last one and the franchise it’s a part of, it’s obviously going to be a HIT, but it doesn’t have to try hard to do so.
Julie: Early reviews of this sequel have been tepid at best, with many critics complaining that the new film’s bloated plot and cast list have marred the wry, self-deprecating wit and good old-fashioned fun of the first film. But as we all know, a film doesn’t have to be great to be a blockbuster. It just has to fill seats. This one will do that in droves, based on name recognition alone. Plus, Baby Groot is just so cute! I need that action figure in my life right now. HIT.
Thomas R: I’ll admit I’m getting a little sick of the “heroes blow everything up while making snarky, in-the-know quips on how absurdly cool this all is” model of superhero action, which the MCU has all but perfected, but the colors, set design, and costumes at least make this one look distinctive compared to most of the previous films. Obvious HIT.
Tyler: The first Guardians was pure lightning in a bottle: it came out of nowhere and blew everybody out of the water with its colorful space action, wacky humor, and crowd-pleasing soundtrack. If I were Kevin Feige, I’d tell them “for God’s sake, don’t change a thing!”, and if the trailer’s any indication, he did. If the formula doesn’t prove enough to make it succeed again, two things will. First, the three years since the first Guardians have seen superhero movies get super self-serious with releases like Batman v Superman, Civil War, and Doctor Strange, and I don’t think I’m alone in hankering after a little frivolity. Secondly, it’s one of a dwindling number of Marvel franchises that you don’t have to have seen twenty-three other movies in order to understand. HIT.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12)
From director Guy Ritchie comes this tale of the early, pre-king years of Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) as he’s hunted by his uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) who’s stolen the crown. But a resistance movement led by a young woman named Guinevere (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) is about to get a major boost when Arthur manages to pull a magical sword from a stone.
Thomas S: So this is what occupies Guy Ritchie’s time while he’s waiting for the Sherlock Holmes III script to get finished? Are we even sure Guy Ritchie directed this movie? Because this feels like a Zack Snyder film, which is to say it looks like it’s got lots of style but is short on substance. Anyway, I’m guessing it’ll BOMB, and bomb hard.
Jordon: Why do people keep making King Arthur movies? And why feature the relatively unknown guy from Pacific Rim? Maybe starvation for summer excitement might drive this movie, but with Rogue Two and Baby Groot coming out early, I don’t see a niche for this. BOMB.
Jonathan: Looks like the sort of standard, average sub-par middle-of-the-road action fantasy that will be reviewed on this site in a few years to remind people, “Hey, remember this movie existed?” Jude Law is in this so the studio can put bottoms in seats and so he can pay the bills. It will look dark and pretty, won’t be all that faithful to the source material in any meaningful way (yet won’t add anything worthwhile either), and at best promises to be passable entertainment. And it’s up against some of the biggest movies of the year. BOMB.
Julie: Man, this trailer was so boring. I literally had to watch it four times before I could manage to stay awake through the entire thing. The filmmakers here are clearly attempting to capitalize on the success of Game of Thrones by making a film that looks vaguely Thrones-y, but with none of the strong well-developed characters, deft world building, and smart plotting that make that series so beloved. (It’s not enough to just throw in a couple of exploded buildings, a few battle scenes, and large CGI creatures anymore. The target audience for this type of story has gotten smarter than that… mostly.) Also, I love me some Charlie Hunnam, but he looks sooooo out of place here, with his obligatory bare chest pounding (three times during the trailer, three times!), his Sons of Anarchy-esque tough-talking wisecracks, and a not-even-remotely-medieval-looking wardrobe that looks like something out of a Hollister ad. Is there time traveling involved in this film? No? BOMB!
Thomas R: Isn’t it amazing how a trailer can pack in mermaids, giant charging elephants, super-powered swordfights, Jude Law chewing the scenery… and still end up boring you senseless? Every sign, from the hackneyed plot to the repeated release pushbacks, combined with the fact that medieval fantasy is currently more popular on TV than in theaters points to a giant BOMB.
Tyler: Good fucking God what am I watching. Get it out of my face. BOMB.
Alien: Covenant (May 19)
In Ridley Scott’s second prequel to his 1979 film Alien, deep space colonists (Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, James Franco, Michael Fassbender) arrive on a supposedly uncharted planet, only to discover it’s the final resting place of the doomed Prometheus mission. They soon find themselves hunted by vicious creatures which might look familiar to those who have seen the previous seven movies in this franchise.
Thomas S: Man, this movie has the stink of Prometheus all over it for me and I don’t think I could enjoy it no matter what. Still, despite my misgivings I’m thinking the general audience is more forgiving than me and it’s going to be a HIT.
Jordon: On the one hand, this looks like the return to the good old Alien days with Ridley Scott behind the lens. On the other hand, Prometheus sucked so hard (and upended the mythology so badly) that it might be impossible to get people to trust it again. But Prometheus made three times its budget. Covenant will be nobody’s favorite movie, but money-wise, it’ll be a HIT.
Jonathan: Prometheus was a film that people either loved or hated… and I was definitely leaning towards “hate”. It managed the feat of being a dumb, pretentious sci-fi flick that nonetheless made me think deeply: namely, about all of the plot holes, unanswered questions, and wondering how much or what kind of “research” Scott did into archeology, science, theology, philosophy, and all the other weighty subjects he thinks he’s talking about. Covenant looks to be more of the same… but with ALIENS, though one that looks pretty obviously CG to me (pretty good CG, but CG nevertheless). A modest HIT, I suspect, but I expect it to be torn between trying to sound smart and trying to be scary, and I doubt it’s going to come close to the first two classics.
Julie: I don’t know about you, but if this was the place I’d chosen for my honeymoon and/or couple’s retreat, I’d ask for a refund, fast. So, I guess Trip Advisor conveniently forgot to mention the aggressively homicidal, goo-spewing, occasionally-cause-your-insides-to-explode alien population hiding amongst all the lush greenery, picturesque landscapes, and excellent hiking trails? It would certainly explain why all the “astronaut couples” who signed up for this mission all look like either: (1) “super models” whose idea of a “space expedition” is going on a juice cleanse for a week that makes you feel “light and floaty”, or (2) Danny McBride. Look, gross-out space horrors are definitely not my bag. But you folks all seem to like them. So I’ll say HIT.
Thomas R: So the rumors were true: Ridley Scott really has opted to just remake the previous movie with a bigger cast and budget. I’ll probably skip this one, but the remarkable persistence of the Alien saga has me inclined to believe this will be at least a modest HIT.
Tyler: I didn’t like Prometheus and I don’t know a single person who does. This movie’s going to have to work extra hard to play catch-up with audience goodwill. The trailer looks like they’re trying to nudge the franchise back in the direction of its horror roots. But are people really hungry enough for a “proper” Alien movie to ensure a big enough turnout? I’m guessing it’ll be a HIT, but unless it’s exceptionally good, it won’t go much beyond making its budget back.
Baywatch (May 26)
This reboot/spoof of the ‘90s lifeguard series stars Dwayne Johnson in David Hasselhoff’s role of Mitch Buchannon, who butts heads with brash new Baywatch recruit Matt Brody (Zac Efron). Eventually, they put aside their differences and team up with fellow lifeguards CJ (Kelly Rohrbach) and Summer (Alexandra Daddario) to take down a local crime boss (Priyanka Chopra).
Thomas S: The trailers for this movie make the film look funny as hell. The cast looks like they’re having the time of their lives and the R rating implies we might be getting a foul-mouthed raunchy comedy. An emphatic HIT.
Jordon: Counter-programming against big sci-fi blockbusters with an irreverent remake starring popular, young actors? It’s so crazy, it just might work, in that it absolutely will work. Look for Baywatch to crush it oversees (where the TV show was enormously popular). And look for it to have legs—as in, continuing rental sales for years. HIT.
Jonathan: “From the director of Horrible Bosses”… Now, I admit, I have yet to sit down and watch that movie, and I can barely remember anything about Baywatch the series except my family watching it in the background while I played with my toys, but I’m not filled with encouragement by this sentence. But even with my fuzziest of memories of the show, I can tell it’s not really a Baywatch movie so much as “parody of Baywatch” meets “yet another one of those comedies”. The trailer also seems to give away quite a bit of the plot and probably what’s meant to be some of its better jokes, which is never a good sign. Reluctantly, I’ll say HIT, but more for the name recognition than the expected quality, though maybe it’ll surprise me.
Julie: A sizable portion of the target audience for this film weren’t even born back when the original Baywatch was a thing, but that might not matter. Sometimes all you need to succeed in the summer blockbuster film season is (1) a bunch of scantily clad, attractive twenty-somethings running on a beach in slo-motion, (2) some almost offensively bad jokes involving cross-dressing and accidentally ingesting the fat of dead people, and (3) the Rock. (Because these days, every blockbuster film is legally required to cast the Rock.) Zac Efron has proven that he’s way funnier than anybody who got their start on High School Musical has a right to be. He’s basically decided to take a time machine, go back to ten years ago, and repeat Channing Tatum’s career from that time to the present, and it’s working for him. So I’m going to say HIT.
Thomas R: Well, Michael Bay’s Faustian contract with the Transformers franchise might have prevented him from even being approached to direct this, but damned if Seth Gordon isn’t doing everything he can to convince people otherwise: Explosions, bikini models in slo-mo, Dwayne Johnson apparently reprising his role from Pain & Gain, a proud revelry in toxic masculine stupidity… I don’t know how many people actually miss the show, but plenty of people love the Rock, so expect this to be a HIT.
Tyler: So they’re going for a super-meta spoof comedy, 21 Jump Street style, eh? I dig it. A property like Baywatch is good for going off-brand—it’s not like anyone ever watched Baywatch for its scintillating interpersonal drama. Lord knows that Baywatch has ample spoof material, and the bits look really well put together. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a massive HIT.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)
In the fifth installment of the Pirates franchise, Jack Sparrow is pursued by an old nemesis (Javier Bardem), who’s now the undead captain of a ghost crew who have recently escaped from the Devil’s Triangle, and are out to kill all pirates. Jack soon enlists the help of Will and Elizabeth Turner’s son Henry (Brenton Thwaites) to find the only thing that can save him: the Trident of Poseidon.
Thomas S: Ugh. I hated the third movie in this franchise, and never bothered seeing the fourth. Honestly, I’m thinking that they went to the well one time too many and this movie is going to BOMB.
Jordon: Four Pirates movies have been released, with the least successful one raking in $250 million. I’m not saying this will be good. I won’t see it. But it will be a HIT.
Jonathan: This film has had all sorts of delays due to budget and script problems amongst other things, and the franchise has become pretty stale. But it’s meant to be a sort of “climax” in one way or another, whether as just an ending of sorts for Jack Sparrow (maybe) or the franchise as a whole, depending on how good or bad it does. I’m not expecting this to be fantastic, but I doubt it will be ungodly bad either, and I definitely think it will make money if people realize that this might be the last one if nothing else. HIT.
Julie: It’s kind of fitting that the trailer for this film features lots of cast members from previous installments of the series looking all rotted and decaying… just like this movie franchise. The rum bottle is empty, Jack Sparrow. Now all that’s left is a nasty hangover. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. BOMB!
Thomas R: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Jack Sparrow enlists the help of a bland prettyboy and a strong-willed proto-feminist upper-class lady in his quest against an old nemesis from his past who’s now leading an undead army of—what? You’ve heard this one already? Over three times? Oh well. I guess that means that even if Johnny Depp hadn’t recently been exposed as an abusive drunk, this movie is still going to be a domestic BOMB.
Tyler: This movie cost three hundred and twenty million dollars. I don’t even care if the movie’s good, Disney. That’s an inexcusable amount of money to spend on the fifth movie in a silly franchise about a fancy man who can’t stop pissing off nautically-themed monsters. Johnny Depp got ninety million of those dollars. Is Johnny Depp worth that much money? When was the last time Johnny Depp’s name alone brought in audiences? Is Disney aware that most people consider Johnny Depp a wife beater? The depressing inevitability is, the full might of Disney’s marketing beast will propel PotC:DMTNT to HIT status. We can only hope the profit margin will be thin enough that they either stop making Pirates movies or dump Depp.
And here’s how we did in April (Special thanks to Rick for compiling this list!):
The Fate of the Furious
100% said HIT (4 out of 4)
67% said HIT (4 out of 6)
Smurfs: The Lost Village
50% said HIT (3 out of 6)
33% said HIT (2 out of 6)
17% said HIT (1 out of 6)
Plus, there were two March movies that were “too early to call” last month. Despite a strong opening weekend, Power Rangers (0% said HIT) immediately crashed and is a BOMB domestically. Ghost in the Shell (60% said HIT) was an embarrassing MEGABOMB.
Including our March holdovers, the score is: 4 right, 2 wrong (with one 50/50 split).