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2013 Preview: May

May 1st, 2013

As April ends and summer begins, we see the 2013 box office on a losing streak. There is some good news, as May should be much, much, much better than April was. Much better. During the five weekends in May, there are nine films opening wide. Of those film, there are seven that at least have a shot at $100 million. And of those seven films, four at least have a shot at $200 million, two have a shot at $300 million, and we might even have a $400 million hit this month. Iron Man 3 should turn out to be the biggest hit of the month, while there are some who think Star Trek: Into Darkness could be a close competitor for that honor. There's also some bad news. The Avengers opened last May and earned more than $600 million. No film opening this month will come close to that figure. There's a chance the top two films opening this month won't match that combined. On the other hand, last year there was a huge drop-off from the biggest hit of the month to the second biggest hit of the month. There were so many high-profile failures last year, that 2013 might actually start winning some weekends in the year-over-year comparison.

Weekend of May 3rd, 2013

May should get off to a fast start, as Iron Man 3 should be the biggest hit of the month. It might be the biggest hit of the summer and the year. It is expected to be such a big hit that no other film is being released, not even as counter-programming. This is good news for Iron Man 3, which should maximize its potential. On the other hand, this weekend last year was the weekend The Avengers opened. That film crushed records and there's almost no chance Iron Man 3 will repeat that. In fact, there's a chance the entire box office this year won't match the $207.44 million The Avengers opened with last year. 2013 will again lose out in the year-over-year comparison.

Iron Man 3

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: May 3rd, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.
Source: Based on a Comic / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Marvel Comics, Terrorism, False Identity, A.I., Robots, Government Corruption, Flashbacks, Super Soldiers, and more
Directed By: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ben Kingsley, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $200 million
Box Office Potential: $425 million

There is little that needs to be said about Iron Man 3. It is one of the biggest super hero franchises around and the buzz for the third installment is deafening. Additionally, its reviews are outstanding. Finally, there are some early international numbers, which are in some cases record-breaking. I'm tempted to bump this film's box office potential to $400 million, but I'm going to be a little more cautious and leave it at $375 million. That is still a huge number and if the film continues to perform internationally, it will be enough to reach $1 billion worldwide.

Last minute update: The international numbers were even better than the opening day results suggested and I've increased the box office potential as a result. I'm more bullish that most, but the evidence suggests this will be one of the biggest hits of all time.

Weekend of May 10th, 2013

The second weekend in May is generally not a good weekend to release a blockbuster movie. That is certainly the case this year. That's not to say there haven't been $100 million hits that were released this week, but they are not that common. This year, The Great Gatsby could be one of those rare exceptions, but it is a bit of a underdog. On the other hand, Tyler Perry Presents Peeples could struggled just to become a midlevel hit. The Great Gatsby should top Dark Shadows, which opened this weekend last year. Things look pretty good for 2013... except The Avengers pulled in $100 million during its sophomore stint. There's no way that number will be matched this year.

The Great Gatsby

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: May 10th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief rude language.
Source: Based on a Novel
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, Costume Drama, Unrequited Love, Relationships Gone Wrong, Ensemble, World War I, Returning Soldier, and more
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki, Amitabh Bachchan, and others.
Production Budget: $125 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million

Baz Luhrmann directs The Great Gatsby. This film will likely be very stylish. On the other hand, I'm not sure how well it will do at the box office. The auteur's biggest box office hit to date was Moulin Rouge, but that came out more than a decade ago. This film does seem to have a more mainstream target audience, but it also costs $125 million, so it will likely struggle financially. It does have a shot at $100 million; after all, Leonardo DiCaprio has had six films reach the century mark, and that's not counting Titanic. With Titanic, his total domestic box office is over $2 billion. On the other hand, the biggest film of the weekend will be Iron Man 3, which should still dominate the box office. It will need to surprise analysts domestically and / or find a more receptive audience internationally if it is to break even any time soon.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: May 10th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug material and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: African-American, Family Reunion, Dysfunctional Family, Romance, In-Laws, Ensemble, Addiction, Rehab, and more
Directed By: Tina Gordon
Starring: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million and $30 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Peeples is a Tyler Perry movie that is only produced by Tyler Perry, not written or directed by him. Because of this, I'm not sure if his fans will show up in large numbers. It is also the first film with Tina Gordon as director (she previous wrote the script for a couple of films), so she doesn't have a fanbase to draw upon. On the other hand, the film has a large number of talented actors in the cast, and it likely didn't cost a lot to make, so it will only need to become a midlevel hit to break even. Perhaps it will surprise and earn more than $50 million, but I think it is wise to be a little more cautious than that.

Weekend of May 17th, 2013

There's only one wide release this week, Star Trek Into Darkness, and it has a slim chance at being the biggest hit of the month. It is part of the longest-running Science Fiction franchise of all time, but it hasn't always been a huge factor at the box office. The franchise was rebooted in 2009 with Star Trek, and that film topped analysts' expectations by a pretty significant degree. Most analysts think Into Darkness will be stronger than its predecessor was, some think it will be significantly stonger. This is great news, as this weekend last year there were three wide releases, but none of them met expectations. Battleship barely made more than $25 million during its opening weekend on a $200 million budget. Into Darkness should make that on its opening day. The Avengers was still going strong and it will provide the most competition in the year-over-year comparison. Even so, Star Trek Into Darkness could make more by itself than last year's top five made combined, meaning 2013 will finally earn a solid win in the year-over-year comparison.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: May 15th, 2013 (Special Screenings)
Release Date: May 17th, 2013 (Wide release)
MPAA Rating: PG for intense sequences of sci - fi action and violence.
Source: Based on TV show / Sequel
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Genetic Engineering, Surprise Twist, Secret Agent, Secret Identity, Terrorism, Government Corruption, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $125 million
Box Office Potential: $325 million

The 2009 reboot of Star Trek did very well, not only with critics but with moviegoers. The previous biggest hits in the franchise were The Voyage Home domestically and First Contact worldwide. Star Trek made more than both of those films combined. Most analysts think this film will be even bigger at the box office. There are some positive signs, including stronger buzz. This time around, the buzz is reaching beyond the Star Trek nerds to the general public. (And if you are one, that wasn't an insult. I consider myself to be a Star Trek nerd.) Also, while there are not enough reviews to judge the film, the ones we have are all positive so far. On the down side, and this is a bit of a spoiler, it ties in heavily with The Wrath of Kahn, which is the best Star Trek movie of all time. This might hurt the film more than it helps, because it won't be able to live up to that movie. Even on the low end, Star Trek Into Darkness should top its predecessor, while on the high end, it could triple its production budget domestically, meaning it would break even just on its domestic box office.

Weekend of May 24th, 2013

This is the Memorial Day long weekend, which is one of the best weekends of the year. There are three films opening wide trying to take advantage of the holiday, and all three have a shot at $100 million. Two of them have a shot at $200 million. Fast and Furious 6 should top $200 million and become the biggest hit of the weekend, but The Hangover Part III also has a shot at that title, if its reviews are significantly better than its predecessor's were. Finally, there's Epic, which is not earning the buzz a digitally animated kids movie should earn, but there's still time for that to change. Assuming the release isn't totally botched, it should at least come close to $100 million. Memorial Day last year was a disappointment, as Men in Black 3 only managed $55 million, while Chernobyl Diaries was little more than an afterthought at the box office. I think 2013 will cruise to victory this weekend.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: May 24th, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action, some scary images and brief rude language.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Good vs. Evil, Tiny Worlds, and more
Directed By: Chris Wedge
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Jason Sudeikis, Beyonce Knowles, Josh Hutcherson, Johnny Knoxville, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $80 million to $100 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Amanda Seyfried provides the voice for Mary Katherine, a 17-year old girl living with her father in the woods. He studies tiny warriors who battle vs. evil. One day he disappears and while she is looking for him, she is shrunk down and discovers these tiny warriors and must join them in their battle.

This film doesn't have a lot of buzz, but I'm not too worried for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's a kids movie and those tend to not have a lot of advance buzz. Secondly, there's no direct competition. The last digitally animated family film to come out was The Croods, which is already more than a month old (although still in the top five). Meanwhile, the next one coming out is Monsters University, which doesn't hit theaters for four weeks after Epic opens. There are two bigger films opening the same day, but Memorial Day long weekend is lucrative enough that I think all three films should find their respective audiences. This one will still be the smallest of the three, but earning more than $100 million domestically isn't a bad total.

Fast and Furious 6

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: May 24th, 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Probably going for a PG-13 rating.
Source: Based on a Factual Magazine Article / Sequel
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Car Case, Gangs, Organized Crime, Sequel with Returning Cast Member, Prequel (or perhaps Midquel / Inbetwequel), and more
Directed By: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $125 million to $150 million
Box Office Potential: $215 million

After the last movie, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and the rest of the gang are super rich, but are still wanted by the law, so they can't go home again. Dwayne Johnson approaches them and offers them a deal. They will get a full pardon, if they help catch a dangerous gang leader.

The plot really doesn't matter. All that matters is the franchise track record. Fast Five became the biggest hit in the franchise and many think this one will perform even better. It does have a better release date; however, that also means more competition. There's also a chance moviegoers have grown tired of these characters. I think the positives outweigh the negatives and this film should perform fantastically becoming the biggest hit of the weekend.

The Hangover 3

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: May 24th, 2013
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Mental Illness, Organized Crime, Kidnapping, Rescue, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $80 million to $100 million
Box Office Potential: $195 million

The third and final installment in the Hangover franchise. The Hangover came out of nowhere earning excellent reviews and was one of the biggest surprise hits of 2009. The Hangover 2 earned much weaker reviews and saw its box office numbers fall, but was still a massive hit. It is very likely The Hangover 3 will continue this downward trend. The real question is will its descent accelerate so much that is falls to become a $200 million hit like its predecessors? It's really hard to answer that question, because at the moment, it's a coin toss. There are not a lot of big R-rated comedies this summer, so perhaps that will be the edge it needs to get over the top. I'm not completely sold.

Weekend of May 31st, 2013

The weekend after Memorial day is usually not a good weekend to release a film, as there are usually so many high profile films already in theaters that it is impossible for new releases to stand out. After Earth is the bigger of the two films coming out, and if it were released a decade ago, it would be seen as an easy $200 million hit. However, its director and its star are no longer the box office draws they once were. Now You See Me is a $70 million thriller set in the world of high tech stage magician and bank heists. It could be good, but it is the weaker of two films opening during a soft weekend. This weekend last year was the first weekend of June and the weekend Snow White and the Huntsman opened. That film made $56.22 million during its opening weekend, which is likely more than the two wide releases this year will make combined. That might be more than Now You See Me makes in total.

After Earth

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: May 31st, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some disturbing images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Father's Footsteps, Post-Apocalypse, Marooned, Relatives Playing Relatives, and more
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Will Smith and Jaden Smith
Production Budget: Reported at $130 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Set 1000 years after humans had to abandon Earth, Will Smith stars as a space ranger and Jaden Smith plays his son. The pair crash on Earth and Will is injured, so Jaden has to do the typical space ranger stuff so they can survive. Also, there's a dangerous alien.

The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan and is based off of a story idea by Will Smith and a decade ago, that would have been incredible news. Signs was the last M. Night Shyamalan film to do really well at the box office and it came out in 2002. Will Smith has only made one film since 2008, Men in Black 3, and it wasn't really well received here. There's not a lot of buzz surrounding this film, plus most of the buzz seems to focus on how uninteresting it looks. Even so, it is still a Will Smith movie opening in summer, so it should at least get to $100 million.

Now You See Me

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site:
Distributor: Summit
Release Date: May 31st, 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Stage Magician, Heist, Police Procedural, Class Warfare, White Collar Crime, Revenge, Surprise Twist, and more
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $70 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

A team of stage magicians performing in the States rob a bank as part of their show, a bank in Paris. This gets the FBI interested, but it will be a confusing case to crack. I love heist movies, so I'm looking forward to this film. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced it will be a big hit at the box office for a number of reasons. For instance, it's release date is weak. Also, while After Earth's buzz is not very strong, it is louder than this film's buzz is. In fact, out of all of the films opening in May, only Peeples is earning quieter buzz than this movie. I really hope it will be a surprise hit, but the evidence suggests it won't be. And with a reported $70 million production budget, it will need to be more than a midlevel hit to break even.


Filed under: Monthly Preview, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Great Gatsby, Iron Man 3, Fast and Furious 6, Epic, After Earth, Now You See Me, Peeples, The Hangover 3, Star Trek, Fast and the Furious, Iron Man, Hangover, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, J.J. Abrams, Amitabh Bachchan, Shane Black, Michael Caine, John Cho, Jason Clarke, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Leonardo DiCaprio, Vin Diesel, Joel Edgerton, Jesse Eisenberg, Alice Eve, Isla Fisher, Zach Galifianakis, David Alan Grier, Rebecca Hall, Woody Harrelson, Ed Helms, Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Ben Kingsley, Beyonce Knowles, Johnny Knoxville, Mélanie Laurent, Louis Leterrier, Justin Lin, Baz Luhrmann, Tobey Maguire, S. Epatha Merkerson, Carey Mulligan, Guy Pearce, Simon Pegg, Tyler Perry, Todd Phillips, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Craig Robinson, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Amanda Seyfried, M. Night Shyamalan, Jaden Smith, Karl Urban, Paul Walker, Kerry Washington, Chris Wedge, Anton Yelchin, Dave Franco, Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Debicki,