As 2008 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United States’ victory in Grenada, I feel it is my moral obligation to get a three-week head-start on this year’s summer movie season. Freedom isn’t free, nor is it microwavable, and every day that passes without speculation as to which over-budgeted studio spectacles will triumph/fail at the domestic box office is a day that pisses on the memory of Heartbreak Ridge. So this one’s for Stitch, Aponte, Profile, Fragatti and The Swede. Most of all, it’s for Gunnery Sergeant Highway, may he rest in fictitious peace (unless Gran Torino is really the working title for Gunny: Mean, Nasty and Tired). As ever, the trick is to present The Summer Movie Preview in a distinctive fashion. It doesn’t take much of a man to simply rattle off a prospective “Top Twenty” and call it a column. The Summer Movie Preview… it requires a soul. You’ve got to burrow into the days and months, write with soft hands, see the place where the tides and the seasons and the turning of the Earth all come together, where everything that is becomes one. Remember Spider-Man 3‘s $60 million Friday, but don’t forget The Rocketeer‘s $9.6 million three-day. Consider There’s Something About Mary‘s eight week march to number one during 1998, but try not to dwell on Wilder Napalm‘s ignominious three-theater dump in August of 1993. The vicissitudes of the market churn up our human notions of quality and conventional wisdom; for four months, the release schedule is storm tossed like a commercial trawler piloted by a drunk and suicidal helmsman. The whims of the ticket buying masses bow not to Exhibitor Relations’ Paul Dergarabedian, nor to the critics’ ivory tower proclamations that Gremlins 2: The New Batch is a smart, subversive alternative to the hollow production design orgy called Dick Tracy. It’s impossible to discern the desires of regular folk because a) they’re malleable, b) they’re drunk most of the time, and c) eighty-percent of ’em are sleeper agents for the KGB. In the biz, we call this “The Little Nikita Principle”, and it states, “Nobody knows nothing because most-body want to undermine good-body way of life.” You’ll forgive the clumsy phrasing, as it was coined by Ed Burns. This is why I think it’s folly to come out swinging with a “Top Twenty” like Premiere used to do (before it got busted down to online-only status). Better to sneak in through the back door like a prowler and piss in the sink than ring the doorbell and explain the utility of the brown paper bag you’ve just lit on fire. It’s a question of suavity. So before we get to the obligatory Top Twenty, let’s have a little fun with the smash-up derby that is the summer movie season. Let’s handicap bombs! Below are ten big-budget investments I consider “at risk” in relation to the studios’ expectations (“bombs” might be overstating it, but overstating is fun); ergo, there will be no Iron Man, Wall-E or Prince Caspian. And in the interest of not ripping off A.J. Daulerio’s late, lamented “Cultural Oddsmaker” column at Deadspin, we’ll do this over/under style.