In Entertainment Weekly’s Summer Movie Preview issue, the EW staff compiled a prediction of the Top 10 Highest Grossing Movies of the Summer.
1. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (355.9 million)
2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (310.8 million)
3. Hancock (280.4 million)
4. Wall-E (280.3 million)
5. Iron Man (267.7 million)
6. The Dark Knight (255.0 million)
7. Kung Fu Panda (244.6 million)
8. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (176.5 million)
9. The Incredible Hulk (147.2 million)
10. Tropic Thunder (146.6 million)
When I first saw their list, I was actually pretty shocked. How could The Dark Knight place so low? And Prince Caspian at #2? Really? And the biggest superhero of the summer: Will Smith’s? Over Iron Man, The Dark Knight and The Incredible Hulk?
I was prepared to write an article on why Entertainment Weekly is wrong, but as I did more and more research, I started to doubt my first impressions.
EW Might Be Right…
For example, let’s take a look at The Dark Knight. The first film, Batman Begins, made $205 at the domestic box office. Most super hero sequels actually make less than the first film:
- Spider-Man made $403M, Spider-Man 2 made $373.
- Superman made $134M, Superman II made $108M.
- Batman made $251M, Batman Returns $162M.
The only real example of a sequel making more than the original is X-Men which made $157M, and X2 made $214. There are a variety of reasons why this happened, not limited to the second film’s promotion budget and theater count (a difference of almost 700 screens). So history shows us that comic book sequels generally don’t make more money than the first film in the series, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Let’s look at best case scenario: The Matrix made $171M, and the sequel The Matrix Reloaded made $281M. That’s a 64% increase. What if The Dark Knight could pull the same type of increase? It would be $336M. I don’t think anyone expects The Dark Knight to pull Reloaded type numbers, especially with the looming death of Heath Ledger. EW’s prediction of $255M is a 24% increase over Batman Begins. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Dark Knight could pull out $275M but any higher would be pushing it.
EW Might Be Wrong About…
Hancock is a completely different matter. I understand that Will Smith is red hot, and that none of the movies Smith has starred in the last five years have made less than $138M…. BUT the movie looks stupid, and I haven’t talked to one person who would list it as their most anticipated movie of the summer (or maybe even top 5). Smith’s biggest movie since Independence Day was I Am Legend, and that only made $256M. And I actually knew a lot of people that were excited to see that movie.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe made $291M but I feel a lot of people felt slighted by the first film. Disney promised the new big fantasy film franchise and people for the most part were left disappointed. I don’t see how The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian could out perform the first. I would guess that Narnia might not even cross the $250M mark.
Discuss: Do you agree with Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 predictions?