May 13, 2011



Here at ShowbuzzDaily, we like to think that we’re smarter than anyone else.  But more importantly, we like to think we’re smarter than each other.  So the two of us here (Mitch Metcalf and your humble narrator Mitch Salem) decided to pick our own slates of summer movies to compete against each other, each of us stubborn in the belief that our list of films will, by Labor Day, outgross the total US boxoffice of the other’s. 
We followed the general draft rules used by pro sports leagues (when they’re not mid-strike or -lockout):  Mitch M graciously gave me the first pick, and then we alternated through 2 dozen movies that will be opening between May 6 and August 12.  At the traditional end of the summer season on Labor Day, one of us will have bragging rights and the other will have to call the winner “Mr. Mitch”–at least until it’s time for the Holiday Blockbuster Draft in November.
Here’s a transcript of our choices, cleansed of four-letter words and threats of violence.  Remember to check back here every week for an update on who’s ahead and who’s Mitch Metcalf.  (I kid, I kid.)
MS:  I’ll start with the obvious.  HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 (July 15), aka Harry Potter 8.  It’s a rock-solid franchise, and this is the final chapter in a story that’s been followed for more than a decade by millions of fans–plus it’s in 3D.  Go Gryffindor!
MM:  TRANSFORMERS:  DARK OF THE MOON (July 1).  Summer is all about heat and blowing stuff up.  Plus there’s always room for the art of Michael Bay!
MS:  PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN:  ON STRANGER TIDES (May 20).  Audiences love them some Johnny Depp on a pirate ship, and even though the last installment was awful, this time there’s Penelope Cruz and those tasty 3D ticket premiums.
MM:  KUNG FU PANDA 2 (May 26).  The theme of franchises continues.  Since I just missed Jack Sparrow (aaarrghh! or however one spells that pirate utterance), I’ll go with the lovable Jack Black.  Besides, the ads promise it’s “Kung Fu-ier”!
MS:  I guess this is why Hollywood worships franchises.  At least THE HANGOVER PART 2 (May 26) isn’t a superhero or a cartoon.  The R rating makes a rare appearance in the list of top grossers (heavy on the “gross”).

MM:  CARS 2 (June 24).  OK, now I’m pissed.  Hangover 2 was my next pick because it has explosive potential if it’s half as good as the original (I hear it’s actually going to deliver).  Oh well, I also have confidence in Pixar.  It’s just not as cool…
MS:  I’m proud to announce the first non-sequel pick of this draft:  JJ Abrams’ (not to mention Steven Spielberg’s) SUPER 8 (June 10).  It already has the best trailer of the summer.
MM:  COWBOYS & ALIENS (July 29).  OK, Salem, this is really getting annoying.  Conventional wisdom has other sequels ahead of Super 8, but it will probably be the one that surprises the most and could seal my draft fate.  Well played.  In the vein of explosions and with a “your peanut butter’s in my chocolate” combination of genres, I am betting this one delivers popcorn fun. 
MS:  Cowboys & Aliens probably has the most intriguing premise of the summer blockbusters, so it could get that late summer Inception audience… if it works.  Now that we’re past the sure things, I’m taking X MEN:  FIRST CLASS (June 3), a reboot that doesn’t include any of the original cast, but has a group of really strong actors (James McAvoy!  Michael Fassbender!  Jennifer Lawrence!  January Jones!  Rose Byrne!) plus Matthew Vaughn, the director of Kick-Ass.
MM:  CAPTAIN AMERICA:  THE FIRST AVENGER.  Now it does get interesting.  Despite some disappointing TV commercials (that need to be improved), I’m going with the jingoistic ring of the title.  As oppposed to Green Lantern, which many will think was already released this winter with Seth Rogen in the lead.
MS:  I agree, Captain America looks better than Green Lantern–I’m just not sure that’s saying much.  I’m going back to the future with RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (August 5).  It’s a risk, because the last one wasn’t that long ago (and wasn’t that good), and it stars James Franco, who suddenly doesn’t look like the next big thing… but early glimpses of the CG apes are awfully impressive.
MM:  THOR (May 6).  Now is the time we’d like to be flies on the wall in studio screening rooms.  Not even to see the films themselves, just the expressions on the executive’s faces.  I’m betting Thor‘s well-reviewed story will push it over the top.  Or it just might be, well, over the top.  Looking forward to your take in Friday’s review.
MS:  I’m a few hours away from seeing Thor–and suddenly not rooting for it so hard.  I’m going to radically switch genres and hope the Hangover audience still has an appetite for some summer raunch:  BAD TEACHER (June 24), with Cameron Diaz as the titular civil servant.
MM:  That would put her back on the map.  My next pick is ZOOKEEPER (July 8).  It’s got animals galore and Kevin James, who has delivered before (Paul Blart).
MS:  Damn, that was going to be my next one–I agree, Zookeeper‘s in a great position to hit the sweet spot with its target audience.  Ah well… I think we’re both united in not thinking much of GREEN LANTERN‘s (June 17) prospects as superhero movies go, but still it’s a big-time 3D spectacle, so it’s going to make some dough.  I’m just glad it’s Warners and not us who’ll be worrying about matching the green lantern with the red ink.
MM:  I’m going to dip my toe into the romantic comedy waters with LARRY CROWNE (July 1).  Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, with Hanks also co-writing and directing.  What could possibly go wrong?  I know, I know–everything.  But we shall see.
MS:  Leading my personal list of “Do I really have to see this?” summer movies, but still likely to draw in some kids (and stoners):  THE SMURFS (July 29).
MM:   I’m going with BRIDESMAIDS (May 13), hoping it’s the female Hangover. I know it won’t be, but I’m still bitter about losing the real sequel and am not thinking clearly.
MS:  In the same genre, I’m taking FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (July 22), the red-band version of No Strings Attached.  It’s directed by Will Gluck, who made the sleeper hit Easy A last fall, and maybe lightning will strike twice.
MM:  Which Steve Carell will show up in CRAZY STUPID LOVE (July 29)?  In the right vehicle he’s incredibly appealing.  Otherwise he’s dead weight in clunkers.  I’m voting for the former (admittedly knowing very little about the film).
MS:  August is a strange month to launch a weighty historical movie that might want to be remembered at awards time.  But I’m going to take a shot that the fans who kept THE HELP (August 12) on bestseller lists for 2 years will come out to support it as a film.
MM:  I’m going to go with a subject we all know something about:  HORRIBLE BOSSES (July 8).  Enough said.
MS: True enough.  With my last pick, I’m taking Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari in 30 MINUTES OR LESS (August 12) and hoping for the best.  Which I believe leaves you with…
MM:  MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (June 17)!  Oh hooray.  The lamest title on the slate, and it’s all mine.  Really feels like a Jim Carrey stinker.  Well, this has actually been fun.  On to the summer!
To summarize, here are our summer slates:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides
The Hangover Part 2 
Super 8
X-Men:  First Class
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Bad Teacher
The Green Lantern
The Smurfs
Friends With Benefits
The Help
30 Minutes or Less
Transformers:  Dark of the Moon
Kung Fu Panda 2
Cars 2
Cowboys & Aliens
Captain America:  The First Avenger
Larry Crowne
Crazy Stupid Love
Horrible Bosses
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Remember to check back here every week for an update on our scores!

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.