May time has reacheth, and the box office will rise for a white-hot summer (yes, figuratively and literally speaking).
Surely Disney and Universal Pictures will do whatever it takes to ensure massive openings for a trilogy capper, the tenth installment in a flying car franchise, and an animated reboot (that might piss off more fans than intended). The box office has been recently soaring off the backbone of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and some horror features (Evil Dead Rise, for instance). Even when the economic status is relatively uncertain, with several banks collapsing, people still need some form of entertainment. In 2008, one of the worst economic years, that didn’t stop folks from getting on board with Iron Man, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, WALL-E, and Hancock. Sometimes to live a little, you need a break.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 marks the trilogy capper for our group of misfits and a (relative) farewell for director James Gunn as he’ll be packing his bags and heading straight to Warner Brothers to reboot the DC Universe again. The first two films were considerable hits in 2014 and 2017. The team got superb marketability for Infinity War, Endgame, and Thor: Love and Thunder (albeit in the most ridiculous manner possible). The Holiday Special that graced Disney+ was a sweet, touching reminder of their status, and it looks like some heavy blows will erupt this time as the team may be on the cusp of dissolving forever. Now granted, we are in the day and age of “Marvel fatigue” erupting again after Quantumania simply was a generic blockbuster that did more harm than help for its most minor hero (and Jonathon Majors’ fate is a clenching pain for Marvel’s future). Optimistically, we’ll probably predict a $120-140 million opening; anything higher may have critics downplaying the signs of fatigue, and any lower might have Kevin Feige call the morgue.
Fast X will be something of intrigue, with Louis Leterrier promising an audacious movie with more preposterous stunts and an ending that will catch audiences off-guard. The penultimate installment is brimming with star power and revenge, with a gargantuan budget attached. Obviously, the film will play very well overseas (yes even China granted it a release), but it’ll need all the help it can domestically to ensure it was worth it. We’re probably looking at a $65-75 million opening, with numbers slightly overtaking F9‘s muted performance in 2021 when COVID fears were still rampant. Vin Diesel, we all hope you know where this road ends.
Meanwhile, Disney must recognize the discouraging social media engagement for their latest reboot. The lack of star power and audiences’ growing distrust in the Mouse in the House empire will be extraordinarily volatile for The Little Mermaid. It is a drawing feature for families, and some will be intrigued to see if it takes a slightly different direction. However, there will be a lot of competition in its footsteps this time, and the most significant fear is its legs will be quite pitiful when we ride over into June. For now, a $65-85 million opening will be a good initiation for another reboot.
We’ll keep our eyes on the performances, but inevitably, these three will warm up the summer box office.