April 30, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY’s Studio Summer Movie Guide: 20th Century Fox


We’re just about 24 hours away from the US arrival of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the kick-off of the summer movie season, and in our survey of each studio’s schedule and prospects, we’ve already taken a look at Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.  Today:  the House of Murdoch, aka 20th Century Fox.

LAST SUMMER:  It wasn’t a stellar season for Fox, which had its biggest domestic win with THE HEAT ($160M US/$230M worldwide), and its biggest global hit with THE WOLVERINE ($133M US/$415M worldwide).  Heat was very profitable (a sequel is coming), but had little appeal outside the US, and although the Asian setting of Wolverine paid off overseas, it was an expensive project that didn’t make it to the A-list of superhero adventures.  EPIC ($108M US/$268M worldwide) was a disappointing attempt to hit that Ice Age animation mother lode, and DreamWorks Animation’s TURBO ($83M US/$283M worldwide), released by Fox through its DWA output deal, fared no better. PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS ($69M US/$200M worldwide) was a misguided attempt to extend a YA franchise that wasn’t all that successful the first time around.  THE INTERNSHIP ($45M US/$93M worldwide) was a flat-out flop.

MAY:  X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (May 23) may be the single most ambitious franchise movie of the summer, combining the casts of both X-Men sagas for a sweeping time-travel epic.  That doesn’t come cheap, and Future Past cost a reported $250M to produce, which means $400M+ with worldwide marketing.  Barring further revelations, the movie seems to have survived the nasty mess of the sex crime allegations made against director Bryan Singer (he won’t be participating in the marketing campaign), but the bigger worry may be that given the box office results of The Wolverine and of X-Men: First Class ($146M US/$354M worldwide), this franchise may just not be big enough for the scale of this project.  Also:  it’s opening only a week after Godzilla, so Fox will be rooting hard against a big start for the mega-monster.

JUNE:  On a much smaller scale, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (June 6) translates a cherished YA novel to the screen, and will hope to break out via strong reviews and word of mouth with and beyond its target audience despite the absence of vampire, werewolves or a dystopian future landscape.  DreamWorks Animation’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (June 13) should be a sure thing, and DWA needs it even more than Fox, after the successive flops of Rise of the Guardians, Turbo and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, with only The Croods in between.  Because of the nature of the distribution deal between Fox and DWA, Fox has limited upside in a DWA release, but a hit is a hit.

JULY:  Another potentially risky extension of a franchise, as DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (July 11) will attempt to build on the success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($177M US/$482M worldwide)–although except for Andy Serkis’s performance-capture ape, all of the cast is different this time.  This installment reportedly features more human/ape warfare and a bigger budget.

AUGUST:  A quiet end to the summer with the R-rated comedy LET’S BE COPS (August 13), which stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr, both solid TV names but so far unproven at the multiplex.

EARLY ODDS:  It’s pretty simple for Fox this summer.  If X-Men and Dawn are huge, spawning future sequels (the next X-Men is already on the books, supposedly also to be directed by Singer, along with the possibility of several spin-offs), it’s a great summer.  If they falter–and with their budgets, even hundreds of millions in ticket sales might not be enough–it’s a disaster, and the studio will have to lean on its upcoming Fantastic Four reboot and Avatar sequels that won’t even start arriving until 2016.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."