April 29, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY’s Studio Summer Movie Guide: Warner Bros.


In our week-long look at the box office prospects of the nearly-here summer movie season on a studio by studio basis, we’ve examined Sony and Universal.  Today our eye is on Warner Bros, typically one of the busiest of the studios.

LAST SUMMER:  Overall a success, although not quite to the extent Warners was hoping.  MAN OF STEEL ($291M US/$668M worldwide) did very well at home, but on a global basis failed to crack the heights of the Marvel universe (Captain America 2 will end up topping it worldwide, let alone The Avengers and the most recent Iron Man).  That’s something Warners will hope to build with the upcoming Superman/Batman movie and then, in 2018, with what the studio hopes will be its Avengers-like Justice League epic. PACIFIC RIM ($102M US/$402M worldwide) escaped being a very expensive flop only because it was a giant hit in Asia, and although there’s talk of a possible sequel at a much lower budget, it wasn’t at all the franchise-starter that was hoped.  THE HANGOVER PART III ($112M US/$362M worldwide) was another expensive disappointment that needed overseas help to hit profit.  On the other hand, THE GREAT GATSBY ($145M US/$351M worldwide) was a huge risk that paid off as well as anyone could have hoped, WE’RE THE MILLERS ($150M US/$270M worldwide) was a true, big-time sleeper hit. and that went double for THE CONJURING ($137M US/ $318M worldwide), a low-budget profit machine that’s already preparing its sequel.  Only the throwaway cheapie THE GETAWAY ($11M US) was a genuine flop.

MAY:  Warners is taking 3 big swings this summer, and the first is GODZILLA (May 16).  It runs the risk of being Pacific Rim redux, but this monster is a much more pre-sold property, and there’s a higher-level cast involved (Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Elisabeth Olsen), which may pull it over the hump in the US.  One limitation, though, may be that just a week later, Fox’s huge X-Men: Days of Future Past will be arriving.  BLENDED (May 23) will counterprogram X-Men, reuniting Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore for their third romantic-comedy teaming.  At this point, that pairing is probably aimed at the older and family audience, considering that it’s been a decade since 50 First Dates and 16 years since The Wedding Singer, and the returns should be significant but moderate.

JUNE:  How big a star is Tom Cruise these days?  That’s the question looming over EDGE OF TOMORROW (June 6), a very expensive, very high concept sci-fi adventure (think Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds), coming on the heels of Cruise’s Oblivion ($89M US/$286M worldwide), which didn’t set any box offices on fire.  Edge cost more than Oblivion, and will need to do better if Cruise isn’t to be relegated to just The Mission Impossible Guy.  Meanwhile, it’s doubtful that anyone really knows what to make of the Clint Eastwood directing the film version of the Broadway musical JERSEY BOYS (June 20)–although if you squint, it has some of the themes familiar from his films like Mystic River–but Clint is a famously frugal filmmaker and it’s a no-star cast, so the risk factor is low.

JULY:  The Wachowskis have been with Warners since the first Matrix, and the results in recent years (Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas) haven’t been pretty.  But they’ve got another big-budget action-fantasy extravaganza coming with JUPITER ASCENDING (July 18), starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis.  The results are anyone’s guess.  On a much more modest scale, Melissa McCarthy has another R-rated comedy on the way with TAMMY (July 2), which will counterprogram the newest Transformers.  It remains to be seen how much her pairing with Susan Sarandon (as her grandmother) will appeal to fans, but there’s definitely a potential upside if it clicks.

AUGUST:  The offerings are much smaller as the summer wanes, just the low-budget found-footage adventure INTO THE STORM (August 8) and YA soap IF I STAY (August 22).  Warners would be happy if one of them could hit the “sleeper” button, but it’s not heavily invested in either one.

EARLY ODDS:  Godzilla seems like it can start off big, and it’s certain to rake in cash overseas (especially Asia), but its placement sandwiched between Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men is a bit disturbing.  Edge of Tomorrow and Jupiter Ascending are very big risks that could make the summer or scuttle it completely, and none of the smaller movies appear headed for more than moderate success.  All of this could end up putting even more pressure on Superman/Batman than it’s already feeling, especially since summer 2015 also lacks any sure-thing franchise installments.

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."