The Summer Of 2013 – The Most Impressive Record In Sight

If We Needed More Proof That This Summer Is Loaded, 2013 Looks Poised To Shatter The Record For The Number Of Films That Cross The Century Mark At The Box Office.

Maybe it is the sports fan in me, the hours of reading Bill James and the guys at Grantland.com, that gets me excited about looking at box office numbers like they are box scores and seeing potential records broken by movies as exciting as watching Adrian Peterson go for the single season rushing record. It is silly of course, since box office numbers, like passing statistics or home runs during the PED era, are annually inflated, making most of the “records” simply a reflection of increased ticket prices. So what if the summer of 2013 breaks the all time box office record set by the summer of 2011, the anomaly is a summer that doesn’t break that record. The truth is, in spite of the massive increase in the number of theaters (and how nice those theaters are), virtually the same number of movie tickets were sold last summer as were sold in the summer of 1982, even though the summer of 1982 did roughly one third the box office that the sumer of 2011 did. So what do box office number really mean? Not much truthfully, but still there are records that are impressive, and the summer of 2013 has one in it’s sights… to have 20 films pass the $100 million threshold.

Here are a few reasons why that record is impressive:

  1. The summer season constitutes 18 weeks from the beginning of May until the end of August, reaching 20 movies would mean averaging more than 1 blockbuster per week.
  2. Most summers, even recent summers, don’t even come close to 20. 2012 only had 12 movies pass $100 million, 2010 only had 13. In fact, over the last 10 summers the average number of films per summer that cross $100 million is only 14.
  3. The record is 18 movies, set in the summer of 2011 when Cowboys & Aliens squeaked over the mark pushing that summer past the impressive mark of 17 set in 2003 (a record that had been matched in ’07 and ’08).
So what are the chances for 2013? Well, we are not even at the halfway point and 8 movies have already crossed that mark (Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, Monsters University and Epic) with two other movies that will pass that mark this weekend (World War Z and Now You See Me), getting the summer halfway home with plenty of time left. Adding to that the fact that This Is The End has a pretty good shot at getting there before it is all said and done (The Purge also has a chance, but a smaller one) and things are looking strong (2011 had nine movies released by this point of the summer that eventually passed $100 million). Still, if this summer is going to break records the second half of the summer has to come close to matching the first half. Can it? Well, let’s take a look.
The Sure Things
  • The Heat
  • Despicable Me 2
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Pacific Rim
  • Wolverine
These five films are sure to push the summer to at least 15. Even if The Lone Ranger is a bomb it is nearly impossible to imagine it will be the kind of dud that doesn’t make it to $100 million. The more likely scenario is that it will be the movie that the reviewers hate but boys love and it will go on to make a ton of money (you know, like the Transformers movies or the last few Pirates movies). The Heat is the only film on here I could even imagine not making t to $100 million and it is hard to imagine it given the buzz and the track record of its two stars in this kind of comedy. Nope, these five are as close to locks as there can be.
The Epic Of The Second Half
  • Turbo
  • Smurfs 2
  • Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
  • Planes
Epic was that family movie that just kept chugging along throughout May and June, unnoticed but making a lot of money. Despicable Me 2 will be THE family movie of the second half of the summer, but it is a pretty good bet that at least 2 out of these four will go over $100 million. Turbo is likely the surest bet. Coming from Dreamworks Animation with the kind of fun premise that they do so well (they haven’t had a movie fall short of $100 million since 2003 when Sinbad was a dud, since then $200 million plus is more the norm). The original Smurfs did an incomprehensible $142 million in 2011 (because it is soooo bad), so it would be a bit of a shock if it fell $50 million short of the original. The original Percy Jackson ended up with $88 million at the box office (it did much better overseas and on the secondary market which is what justified the sequel) in 2010 so with the combination of increased ticket prices it wont need to get many more people to see it to push it past the century mark. Planes is a bit more of a wild card. If this came from Pixar it would be a no brainer, but Planes is from the world of Cars but from Disney Animation Studios who mostly specialize on direct to DVD fare like all those Tinker Bell movies. They do have the trailer running in front of Monsters University and it does look like a Cars thing (adults may not love Cars, but anyone with little kids knows it is a favorite) so a bigger than expected box office wouldn’t be shocking.
The World War Z Of The Second Half
  • White House Down
  • R.I.P.D.
World War Z had been written off. It was on everyone’s “bomb” of the summer list months ago. But even with all of the rumblings of on set problems and delays in release and everything else it was still a big Brad Pitt zombie movie and it succeeded accordingly. White House Down has had people worried not because of anything inherent about the film, but because no one is sure if it will find a home in a crowded marketplace, but it is a big Roland Emmerich action movie, and those do big business. R.I.P.D. has been pointed to by everyone as a bomb waiting to happen, but maybe we are ignoring a lot of things that point to a fair amount of success. Things like the fact that Ryan Reynolds has only had one wide release since 2009 that hasn’t done over $100 million (The Change-Up) and Jeff Bridges last two movies (Tron Legacy and True Grit) both went over $170 million.
The Hangover Part III Of The Second Half
  • Grown Ups 2
  • RED 2
  • Kick-Ass 2
The Hangover Part III got horrible reviews, was a follow up to a creatively disappointing sequel, and was generally dismissed as a misfire… oh, and it has already grossed $110 million domestically and nearly $350 million world wide. It is just too easy to forget that sequels do business. Take Grown Ups 2, the first one may not be beloved and you may think that last summer’s That’s My Boy took the shine off of Sandler, but here’s the thing, the original grossed $162 million. Do we honestly think the sequels is going to fall my over $60 million? I don’t see it. RED 2 isn’t following up a movie with that big of a box office footprint (the original did $90 million in 2010) but it still has Bruce Willis in an action comedy vehicle, and it is being released as a PG13 movie to broaden its appeal. As for Kick-Ass 2, it probably doesn’t belong in this category. The original finished up just short of $50 million at the box office and while most think there will be a box office improvement for the second go around a more than doubling seems to be a bit of a stretch. So why did I include it? Because I am REALLY excited about it and I am just looking for excuses to bring it up.
The Surprise August Blockbuster
  • 2 Guns
  • Elysium
The second half of August is generally reserved for throw away movies, but nearly every year will see a surprisingly big blockbuster released in the first or second week of August. Movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Talladega Nights, Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Signs and The Sixth Sense all blew up at the end of summer. The two most likely candidates this year already have ties to past August successes. In 2010 Mark Wahlberg saw a buddy cop comedy become a sizable August hit when The Other Guys ruled the month and he is back this year in another buddy cop comedy (albeit a much darker one) with 2 Guns. In 2009 District 9 was an out of nowhere hit, drumming up almost $120 million in August. This year the same writer/director (Neill Blomkamp) teams up with a star with a huge August track record (all of Matt Damon’s Bourne movies were end of summer fare) to bring another scifi movie to life with Elysium.
The This Is The End of The End Of Summer
  • The To Do List
  • We’re The Millers
  • The World’s End
As I said at the start, This Is The End has a decent shot to get to $100 million. It is the sneaky-raunchy-comedy-with-a-heart movie that has been defying summer expectations for the last decade thanks to guys like Will Ferrell, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Vince Vaughn and the rest of the male comedic actors who have dominated the multiplexes of late. It seems like most summers have been bracketed by this particular brand of comedy (or something close to it) and there are a few chances to make that happen this year. The To-Do List is the kissing cousin of the Apatow comedies, it is this years slightly-raunchy-girl-sex-with-no-ndity-comedy-romp (in other words, the Emma Stone comedies). Getting all the way up to $100 million may be a stretch (after all, Easy A only pulled in $58 million in its theatrical run) but who knows. The better shot goes to We’re The Millers, the Jennifer Aniston/Jason Sudekis vehicle that is directed by the guy who made Dodgeball (Rawson Marshall Thurber) and written by one of the guys who wrote Wedding Crashers (Bob Fisher). Of course the comedy that is the most likely to be the best out of these three choices and the least likely to pass $100 million is The World’s End. The guys from Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are back and really nothing else needs to be said. There are those of us who love the first two movies and are sure to love the third and then there are most people, who have never seen either of the first two and will not see this one either. Still, it would be really cool if this movie became a surprise hit. It wont happen but it would be really cool.
Conclusion
20 seems more than doable, it seems inevitable. After the five “sure things” in the second half all we need is five more out of the 14 other movies that have a shot at it, and that isn’t counting This Is The End, which if it gets there means only four of those 14 have to make it. And here’s the thing, Turbo is making it, so is Smurfs 2 (heaven help us) and either White House Down or R.I.P.D. will make it (if not both). Elysium is pretty close to a lock too, as is Grown Ups 2. And we are there. There is a reason the story of the summer has been, and will continue to be, that this summer is too loaded. Week after week movies are dropping that are not merely meant to be blockbusters, but that are likely to be blockbusters. A word of advice, if you want to see a particular movie you had best go within the first two weeks of it’s opening because theaters are getting full and movies will have short runs if they aren’t quick hits.
But hey, what do I know? I’m fat.