I guess this weekend the premium VOD is launching, which means you can watch Just Go With It at home for a higher price tag. This is about eliminating the middle man, but studios are acting like junkies in the post-DVD boom. And like junkies they’re doing stupid things for a quick fix.

BIG STUPID SUMMER PREVIEW

This year Fast Five seems to kick off the blockbusters next weekend, so I’m jumping ahead (like in that movie Jumper) to start that conversation. With most of the possible top ten, you know what that’s going to be. And though it’s likely one film could somehow charge its way into the top ten, and we could see a picture like Super 8 be a $200 Million dollar plus performer, it’s hard to how it will compete against – say – something as established as X-Men: First Class, even with the baggage of that title. But this should be a telling summer. Will 3-D boost or take away from some titles, or is a non-issue for audiences? Can Michael Bay make up for Transformers 2?  Will these new superheroes catch on, or are people more meat (Batman) and Potatoes (Spider-Man) when it comes to their comic book films? So let’s take a look….

TOP TEN OF SUMMER 2011

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (7/1)
The last film was terrible and made $400 Million. This one is the apology tour. It’s in 3-D. As long as it’s as good as the trailer, and all that stuff Michael Bay’s been saying about how he understands what he did wrong last time, I don’t see how this doesn’t do around the same number as the last one… at least domestically.
Gross: $400 (Wiggle room +/- : $50 Million either way)

2. Cars 2 (6/24)
Though it may be artistically uninteresting, Pixar isn’t stupid to make this sequel, and so this film should be near the business of Toy Story 3 and Transformers 3.
Gross: $375 (+/- $25 Million)

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (7/15)
The last film gets a last film bump. These films have been performing around $300 for a while, so I think this one gets to near $350 just because it’s the last.
Gross: $330 (+/- $25 Million)

4. Kung Fu Panda 2 (5/26)
The first film was both popular and good, the follow up should continue with the good will for the last. The only thing that’s working against it is perhaps talent fatigue, and the contained nature of the last film. But when has that stopped audiences before?
Gross: $250 (+/- $50 Million)

5. The Hangover Part II (5/26)
Even if this is a shitty sequel, with a long opening weekend, there’s no way this picture doesn’t do over a hundred right quick. The original got to $275-ish, this is probably under that (it won’t have the repeat factor, or the word of mouth) but $200 sees very likely
Gross: $210 (+/- $50 Million)

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (5/20)
A fourth film no one really wanted, to a series that wore out its welcome. Could this work? It’s got the weekend to itself, and then a holiday weekend, and as long as it’s closer to two hours and has some buckles that come close to swashing, I think it’s still going to perform okay, but nowhere near its predecessors. Globally it probably does much better.
Gross: $200 (+/- $50 Million)

7. Captain America: The First Avenger (7/22)
The superhero film of the summer has the benefit of coming out at the end of summer, where it could pick up better reactions if the superhero pictures look to get better with each one. I think this looks strong, and I think it might make up for a slightly weaker Thor. The best “first” film seems likely, though Joe Johnston hopefully learned from the mistakes of The Rocketeer, even if this is kind of the same movie.
Gross: $200 (+/- $50 Million)

8. Fast Five (4/29)
So summer starts earlier this year. The trailers are good and people really dug the last flick, I think this does around the same numbers and will give Thor‘s opening weekend more competition than expected.
Gross: $180 (+/- $30 Million)

9. Green Lantern (6/17)
DC needs to have another non-Batman franchise. This looks weird, but with the WonderCon footage, if they can cut that into a trailer, I think they’re going to sell people on the scale of this thing. This could also do Batman Begins numbers. It all depends on tone.
Gross: $170 (+/- $50 Million)

10. X-Men: First Class (6/3)
Wolverine was terrible, and so’s the marketing on this one. But $150 seems likely, and I don’t doubt Fox’s ability to cut TV spots. It depends if they’re intentionally fucking this, or if they don’t know what they have. But on paper, it looks stronger than Thor.
Gross: $155 (+/- $50 Million)

Just Missing/Sneakers:
Thor (5/6) has the first official start date of the Summer, but – though WOM is currently positive, there are negative reviews brewing, and the film is not a home run. The marketing on this also seems confused, and the film seemes to play better to the faithful. Of course the early launch could help the film, but there’s way more competition, and by 5/20 it should be done. ($150 +/- $50 Million) Cowboys and Aliens (7/29) is going to have to get past the awkwardness of its premise, and all that. I’m not sold yet, but it’s still early ($130 +/- $50 Million) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (8/5) has he last big relase of summer, and it may work as a change up, but Fox may have cheaped this one too much. With Franco a non-starter, this has to sell monkey mayhem. That should be enough ($120 +/- $50 Million). Super 8 (6/10) could be the strongest original performer thsi summer, but the marketing so far seems to mostly appeal to Spielberg nerds. Not really telling people much worked with Cloverfield, but until this starts showing some skin, then I have to be wary, and you need word of mouth to get people into something they don’t know what it is after an opening weekend. ($100 +/- $50 Million)

Possible Spoilers (films that could hit $100 or above or die on the vine):

Kids:
Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (8/19), The Smurfs (7/29) and Winnie the Pooh (7/15) all look like they could be solid kids films, but don’t have the oomph. Winnie has the kid factor, but those films play exceptionally young. The Smurfs looks terrible, but so did Alvin and the Chipmunks. And Spy Kids 4 has 3-D, and possibly the apeal of nostalgia. But with it, the production costs were surely kept (like Shorty) low.

Comedy:
The Change Up (8/5) depends on Ryan Reynolds’ star power post-Lantern, but this could be a good comedy performer – though (and I never thought I’d say this) it feels like Reynolds part should be played by Bradley Cooper. Star power is missing from 30 Minutes or Less (8/12), which is going for the Superbad slot, but with the talent involved and the film playing, comedy just needs to work. Zookeeper (7/8) has Kevin James, and that might be enough, while Bad Teacher (6/24) has a funny trailer and could play to women stronger than Bridesmaids. Horrible Bosses (7/8) hasn’t really stuck its head out yet, but I keep hearing it’s been testing well. Depends if it gets screwed as a New Line title.

Rom-Com:
There tends to be one romantic comedy that breaks out and Larry Crowne (7/1) has the best pedigree, but the trailer is a little awkward, even with Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. Friends with Benefits (7/22) looks like No Strings Attached on the outset, but the trailer plays stronger, while Crazy, Stupid, Love (7/29) has some drawing power in its cast, and some smart writer/directors.

Looking Fucked:
I think Bridesmaids (5/13) is supposed to be funny, but between Wiig toplining and early trailers and the release date, this may get lost in the shuffle. Priest (5/13) has been sitting in a can for a while, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins (6/17) looks like it’s been sitting in a can for a while. Fright Night (8/19) looks to take advantage of the absence of horror, but I don’t think the original title has the drawing power, and I don’t think fans of the original are going to be happy with the liberties taken. Conan the Barbarian (8/26) could make a good impression at the end of summer, but it smells like a washed up franchise reboot.

There may be some other pleasant spoilers (Could Tree of Life make money?), and you never know what kids are going to go for. Thor could easily do $200 Million, and August titles – even some of the July titles – are just starting their marketing campaigns.

BACK ON PLANET PREDICTION…

New Tyler Perry and new Robert Pattinson.

1. Tyler Perry’s I Made Another Madea Movie - $31.5 Million

2. Rio (Dances on the Shore)- $26.7 Million

3. Water for Elephants - $13.2 Million

4.  Scream 4 – 8.8 Million

5. Hop - $8 Million

And then Sunday, Bloody Sunday.