1. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (6/13) – $310 million – The sequel to one of DreamWorks Animation’s best movies should be the runaway hit of summer. It’s also the only major animated release, as Disney moved its live-action Maleficent to summer after The Good Dinosaur was delayed.
2. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (5/23) – $285 million – Marvel’s all the rage, and the chance to see Hugh Jackman walk between the old and new generations looks irresistible. Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender have since had their stars shine brighter.
3. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (5/2) – $275 million – I don’t think this will be the unstoppable juggernaut Iron Man 3 was in this slot last year. Early word’s been mostly positive, but it looks awfully crowded with three villains.
4. TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (6/27) – $250 million – Out: Shia LaBeouf. In: Mark Wahlberg. Wise choice by Michael Bay.
5. GODZILLA (5/16) – $220 million – This reboot looks like it takes it seriously, and it’s in prime release position to make a big splash upon arrival.
6. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (7/11) – $205 million – The quality looks like it’ll still be there, and Caesar (Andy Serkis) is still the main character. This is a good thing.
8. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (8/1) – $180 million – Really hope the movie is as fun as the trailer hints. It’s the biggest gamble Marvel’s taken since the original Iron Man.
9. 22 JUMP STREET (6/13) – $145 million – Two-time Academy-Award nominee Jonah Hill lets Channing Tatum tag along for another go-around. If they can just be as funny as the first one, then this should be a hit.
10. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (8/8) – $135 million – I think this’ll be the last blockbuster opening of summer, and then it’ll coast while lesser titles open throughout the month. 1980′s nostalgia has been paying off, so unless this version angers fans, it should be able to do well.
11. HERCULES (7/25) – $130 million – I could just as easily see this bombing, but it does have the slot where The Wolverine found success last year. Everyone’s already forgotten about this other Hercules movie we had this year.
12. NEIGHBORS (5/9) – $128 million – The Seth Rogen/Zac Efron banter looks funny, and early word-of-mouth has been positive.
13. TAMMY (7/2) – $115 million – Melissa McCarthy finally gets top billing after delivering hits with co-stars like Kristen Wiig, Sandra Bullock and Jason Bateman. Susan Sarandon’s been aged up to play her grandmother. I’m going to assume marketing doesn’t screw this up.
14. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (5/30) – $105 million – Ted was a big hit, but now let’s see if people can stand Seth MacFarland’s face for a whole movie. It helps that he’s recruited actors like Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson to be around.
15. THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (6/20) – $100 million – Kevin Hart is now a star, so he should boost this ensemble comedy.
16. EDGE OF TOMORROW (6/6) – $95 million – Tom Cruise’s star is fading, and the final trailer didn’t quite have that hook that will launch it to a smash, but it’s really made more for the overseas audiences.
17. GET ON UP (8/1) – $90 million – Chadwick Boseman (42) in another bio-pic, this one of music icon James Brown, and I think this’ll be the long-legged success story of August.
18. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (6/6) – $85 million – Based on the best-selling book, buzz seems to be growing for this as it gets closer. It’ll be a test if Shailene Woodley can parlay her Divergent success into legitimate stardom.
19. BLENDED (8/15) – $84 million – Adam Sandler made Grown Ups 2 a hit, so as long as it’s not rated R (looking at you, That’s My Boy), it’ll crack the top 20 of summer, even if it sucks.
20. JUPITER ASCENDING (7/18) – $82 million – I love the risks the Wachowskis took with Cloud Atlas, but it bombed. Here comes another wholly original-looking tale, but I don’t know how much of a chance audiences are willing to give it. Channing Tatum’s been made up to look like Dominic Monaghan, so this could be a John Carter-sized flop.
The next ten, probably in the $50-$80 million range:
MILLION DOLLAR ARM (5/16) – Jon Hamm scouts for potential baseball pitchers in India
JERSEY BOYS (6/20) – based on the Broadway musical about Frankie Valli
DELIVER US FROM EVIL (7/2) – Eric Bana investigates a supernatural force
THE PURGE: ANARCHY (7/18) – Sequel finds a young couple trapped outside when the Purge starts
PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (7/18) – Cheapo sequel to last year’s surprise hit
INTO THE STORM (8/8) – Tornadoes surround a small town
LUCY (8/8) – Scarlett Johansson gets super-super smart and dangerous
THE GIVER (8/15) – Based on the 1993 best-seller
EXPENDABLES 3 (8/15) – Stallone & co. for one more go-around
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (8/22) – Stylish sequel about six years behind schedule
Other wide releases:
MOM’S NIGHT OUT (5/9)
LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’s RETURN (5/9)
EARTH TO ECHO (7/2)
SEX TAPE (7/25)
STEP UP ALL IN (7/25)
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (8/8)
LET’S BE COPS (8/15)
IF I STAY (8/22)
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (8/22)
JANE GOT A GUN (8/29)
THE LOFT (8/29)