A lot has changed since I made my 2015 box office predictions… Scheduling changes, title changes, swapping, new trailers and stuff showcasing the potential of some releases. I'll start with the biggies and then go by month, much like how I did my rough 2016 box office predictions back in February… So let's get started here. (Also, this is just domestic box office with some worldwide thrown in here and there.)
Cinderella (March 13, 2015) - Make no mistake, the fairy tale craze is still going strong. Disney plays their cards right with their live action fairy tale reboots, making them PG, loading them with spectacle, and making them generally family-friendly. Oz the Great and Powerful (not a fairy tale, but a reboot of a classic children's fantasy story that can be lumped in with the fairy tales) opened big with $79 million last year, and grossed a good $234 million stateside. Maleficent will most likely make more than that, because the anticipation is pretty high. No reason Cinderella shouldn't repeat that success and score a $200+ million domestic total. However, Disney's CinemaCon presentation revealed that it'll definitely be a smaller-scale film and not as effects-heavy… That shouldn't have much of an effect on it though.
Min. Gross: $225 million
Max. Gross: $280 million
Fast & Furious 7 (April 10, 2015) - The series, up until Paul Walker's death last year, was getting bigger and bigger. 2009's Fast & Furious got the series back on track, box office-wise, after the third one hadn't performed well. Fast Five, with its heist plot and crazy action, was even bigger… An unprecedented smash that outgrossed the previous entries by a big amount! Fast & Furious 6 built on that, grossing even more…
Universal is currently handling Walker's character the right way, as the writers had retooled the script after taking some time (and shutting down the production for a little while, no less) to think things over. With that, I think this film is going to have something of a Dark Knight effect. Dark Knight, I have believed for a long time, would've still opened pretty big had Heath Ledger not died… But would've it have made as much as it ended up making? Probably not. Thus I think people will go out and see Walker's last big film, ensuring a pretty big opening weekend. In fact, I think a minimum of $150 million is in the cards for this one.
Legs should be the usual for a Fast & Furious film, a 2.4x multiplier… But it may be a bit higher this time. Either way, this will easily be the franchise's biggest and will probably remain the biggest.
Min. Gross: $345 million
Max. Gross: $410 million
The Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015) - Marvelmania is a force to be reckoned with… It's here because Marvel has a winning formula. Each of their films has pleased a majority of comic book fans and audiences. The idea of world-building is intriguing to casual fans (it's what really got me interested back when I saw Iron Man 2 twice in theaters back in spring 2010), so they go… But the real reason they go is because the films give them what most big blockbusters don't give them: Pure entertainment. They may not be the most highbrow films, but they certainly aren't lowbrow. They deliver blow-em-up rock-em-sock-em entertainment with a punch, the characters are all likable and the stories are a lot of fun. It wasn't just the novelty of Iron Man and those heroes coming together that made The Avengers the leggy hit that it was… It could've opened huge and then dropped like a rock afterwards, but it didn't.
The sequel's news is always met with anticipation. Every bit of news that's unveiled is met with positivity, rather than skepticism (Untitled Superman/Batman Film, I'm looking at you), and a bigger and better film is promised. The stakes will be raised… It's going to be massive, and it'll most likely top the first film's monstrous opening weekend total of $207 million. How high does it go? Does it have the legs the original had? Will it hold on? Will it perhaps become the highest grossing film at the domestic and worldwide box office? Maybe, maybe…
Min. Gross: $575 million
Max. Gross: $700 million
Tomorrowland (May 22, 2015) - I'm including this big risk of a tentpole blockbuster film in the biggies section. With its May release date, Brad Bird directing and a promising story/script, how is Tomorrowland not a biggie? Unless Disney marketing completely screws things up, this ought to be a smash hit. Knowing Bird, it'll be a high quality film that people will go back to see and tell their friends about. (Just like at Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, opened okay but caught on like wildfire! Why? Because it was a Brad Bird film, that's why!) The release date is a bit problematic, but if the movie is on the level of Bird's other films, it'll definitely be huge. It just has to open with a good enough amount, because a total as low as $40 million won't destroy any hopes of it being a hit… It'll have great legs.
Min. Gross: $140 million
Max. Gross: $275 million
Jurassic World (June 12, 2015) - Definitely a biggie to me, because it's Jurassic Park (the last one's total adjusts to over $200 million domestically) and who doesn't love dinosaurs? This comes a whopping 14 years after the third one, and with Colin Trevorrow in the director's chair and Derek Connolly penning the script, it's sure to be good. The 90s kids will be there, fans will be there, the summer blockbuster crowd will be there. It's going to be big, the title alone promises something big!
Again, it just has to be a good film. Men in Black III managed to do well on its opening weekend, showing that with a strong series, you can wait on the sequel. That film went through problems and delays and all, and it still opened with a good $55 million back in 2012. If that can open with $55 million, Jurassic World should have no problem on opening weekend. $100 million is perhaps in the cards…
Min. Gross: $185 million
Max. Gross: $340 million
Inside Out (June 19, 2015) - It's Pixar, enough said. Even with a dreaded sequel or prequel, they're still tearing up the box office. Inside Out marks the return to the inventive and out-of-the-box storytelling of Pixar's best, which people felt wasn't in Brave, yet that still pulled in $237 million domestically. People equate the Pixar name with quality, so that's why their films normally open with $60 million domestically. They earned audiences' trust, and adults go on opening weekend. This should actually score Pixar's biggest non-sequel opening, something above $70 million is very doable, especially with 3D adding to the gross.
Even if it isn't the greatest thing ever, the legs should still be very, very good. It's the usual for a quality family-friendly film… But I think the concept alone will get people in the theaters on its opening weekend. Also, animation is dominating more and more… An original can easily make over $300 million, I think.
Min. Gross: $245 million
Max. Gross: $345 million
Ted 2 (June 26, 2015) - Certainly a heavy-hitter, because the first one was a sleeper hit. Seth MacFarlane is big, and his shows - mainly Family Guy of course - are pretty much known by everyone. Ted did well because of this and the fact that it looked really funny, plus the concept and good reviews helped, too. Ted 2 will undoubtedly open big (think $70 million, think a Hangover II-sized increased), and even if it's not all that good, it'll still hold on. Bad comedy films seem to do okay.
Min. Gross: $200 million
Max. Gross: $310 million
Terminator: Genesis (July 1, 2015) - I was initially hesitant to include this, but the Terminator series is a well-known entity. Terminator Salvation may not have been good or well-received, but adjusted, its opening weekend is a good $47 million. But Arnold is back for this installment, a good director is at the helm (Alan Taylor, Game of Thrones, Thor: The Dark World), so it could open above the last one's adjusted total… Or people will be sick of the series by this point and mostly avoid it, plus Arnold's recent films just aren't doing well, but that probably has more to do with the films themselves. A tough one to predict, but it could do well if it's good film and not like the third or fourth ones.
Min. Gross: $115 million
Max. Gross: $200 million
Minions (July 10, 2015) - It's Minions, enough said. Despicable Me was breakout hit in 2010, Despicable Me 2 did even better… This spin-off should open with $70 million by default, because you could say we're going through Minionmania right now and it doesn't seem to be wearing off anytime soon. People love these things. Legs should be a different story…
Min. Gross: $230 million
Max. Gross: $300 million
Ant-Man (July 17, 2015) - Again, Marvel. Coming right off of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, this will open big. In August, we'll see how a non-Iron Man/Thor/Cap post-Avengers film will really do. Guardians of the Galaxy is already a hotly anticipated film, thanks to that excellent trailer and just the whole concept of it, Marvel Cinematic Universe aside. This means that Ant-Man can definitely do great numbers. Even Thor: The Dark World opened big, despite dull marketing. The MCU alone and the character ensured a big gross for that one. Ant-Man will probably get a better campaign, since Marvel is rolling out a new face and not a sequel. (Dark World was the weakest of the Phase 2 films, so I'm guessing the marketing team just slacked off on it.)
Since it's Marvel Studios, it'll most likely deliver. Thor and Captain America's opening weekends adjust to $67-68 million, so this will easily open above $70 million.
Min. Gross: $180 million
Max. Gross: $250 million
Pan (July 17, 2015) - Currently untitled, but again, this is another fairy tale/children's story adaptation that'll most likely be heavier than the Disney classic, be PG or PG-13, have lots of CGI and stuff… It'll be what the 2003 film wasn't as well, and it's got a good director behind it too. Perhaps opening it against Ant-Man isn't such a smart idea, but I can see it opening well. Lowest it'll get on opening weekend is Snow White and the Huntsman numbers.
Min. Gross: $160 million
Max. Gross: $240 million
The Jungle Book (October 9, 2015) - Again, a retelling of a story people knew from a Disney animated film from when they were young. This can be lumped into the fairy tale reboot pool, and because of this, it's bound to open big. Jon Favreau is directing and since we already have Idris Elba in the cast, we'll probably get a great cast with this one. Also, it's from Disney, so it'll probably carry a PG rating and be family friendly enough to get a big enough gross.
Min. Gross: $160 million
Max. Gross: $275 million
Bond 24 (November 6, 2015) - Skyfall was a smash hit, pulling in the biggest total for a James Bond film. Critical reception was great, and it just looked great from the marketing. It was the true follow up to the highly successful and critically acclaimed Casino Royale, unlike the caught-in-turmoil Quantum of Solace. (In short, Quantum was a victim of the writer's strike at the time it was being filmed.) Since Skyfall was so good and it delivered, people are going to want more. This will pull in the series' biggest opening weekend and since the same director is back with no major problems like a strike, it'll have good word of mouth. Expect a huge gross out of this one.
Min. Gross: $330 million
Max. Gross: $440 million
Peanuts (November 6, 2015) - This may sound crazy, but this has the potential to be Blue Sky's biggest film domestically. Even bigger than the Ice Age sequels! Consider. Peanuts is beloved, it's iconic. Who doesn't know Charlie Brown, Snoopy, et al? It seems like the right people are behind it, so this won't be an Alvin and the Chipmunks-esque piece of shovelware. While there is heavy competition, a good quality Peanuts film will still have good legs at the box office. Also, that teaser got a positive reaction.
Min. Gross: $155 million
Max. Gross: $240 million
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (November 20, 2015) - No need to say, really. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death will also be a factor, as people will - like Dark Knight - rush to see one of his final films. This also applies to Mockingjay, Part 1, which ought to open huge this fall. The director of Catching Fire, which got positive remarks from those who didn't particularly like the first one, has directed this and the first part, so they'll all be very good.
Min. Gross: $380 million
Max. Gross: $510 million
The Good Dinosaur (November 25, 2015) - While I do believe that this film will be delayed again (I'm thinking summer 2017 at this rate), if it is in fact a 2015 release, then here: It's like Inside Out - a Pixar original, and one that's about dinosaurs no less. There's your draw. If it's okay, it'll still have good legs.
Min. Gross: $235 million
Max. Gross: $340 million
Star Wars: Episode VII (December 18, 2015) - As I've said before, I can see this being absolutely massive. Also, ticket prices in 2015 should be taken into account… If a film like The Avengers can take in a whopping $207 million on its opening weekend, there's no way Star Wars can't. Star Wars, though soiled in the last decade by the disappointing prequel trilogy, is known by pretty much everyone. Despite those films, the hype is still there. The fans will see it regardless, and audiences will be thrilled to see another Star Wars film. Adjust the Episode III's opening weekend, it's $141 million. Add 3D and IMAX 3D, the hype, the whole nature of the film itself and the series' legacy… It's going to open big. Gargantuan. This can possibly break the opening weekend record as we know it.
If it's a very good film, the legs will be incredibly strong. The Christmas 2015 release was very smart in hindsight, so it'll score during Christmas vacation and linger on the charts for a long, long time. If excellent, this can have an Avatar-esque run where it's just #1 for many consecutive weeks. Call me crazy, but this does legitimately have a shot at becoming the highest grossing film of all time.
Min. Gross: $555 million
Max. Gross: Sky is the limit...
Kung Fu Panda 3 (December 23, 2015) - This one's in a very tough spot because of Star Wars: Episode VII, but if it's good/looks really good, it should have no problems - Star Wars or no Star Wars. Kung Fu Panda 2's opening weekend was the way it was because of a lackluster marketing campaign and the fact that it was opened against a movie that sucked a lot of teen and adult audiences away. Despite that, it had good legs because it was a very good sequel. That goodwill should help the third one, and hopefully a better marketing campaign helps, too.
Min. Gross: $150 million
Max. Gross: $230 million
Mission: Impossible V (December 25, 2015) - Though Brad Bird is not back for part five, the goodwill from the last one should carry over. It's not like Mission: Impossible III where you had the questionable reputation of the second film behind it, plus Tom Cruise's then-recent mishaps. This has an acclaimed installment before it, and it's got some promise. It may not be as good as Bird's film or as much of an event as it, but it'll still open big because the last one was so successful. Plus if it's good, it'll hold on just well.
Min. Gross: $135 million
Max. Gross: $180 million
Another horror remake opens up January 2015, Amityville (1/2/2015). This could either make as little as the poorly-received Texas Chainsaw 3D ($34 million) or it could make around $70 million if good. That's a stretch though, considering that a lot of these horror remakes usually turn out bad. It's a winning strategy though: They make these films for pennies, they get bad reception but that doesn't matter. Teens looking for something to see on January weekends go see them (hence why they normally take in $20-30 million on opening weekend), the money is made back on the first weekend.
Fox recently added Taken 3 (1/19/2015) to their slate, which should do well despite the fact that the last one wasn't very well received. The last opened a lot higher than the sleeper-hit first film, but it had weaker legs. Still, it managed to gross close to $140 million. Taken 3 doesn't seem like it'll be Taken with someone else being kidnapped, so the change of pace might convince audiences to check it out. It's back in the January spot now, so… You never know. $150 million is probably the highest it can go. The lowest? Around $80 million. Maybe higher…
Two arguably "big" releases are set to open on MLK weekend (1/16). The first of which is a Legendary Pictures release called Cyber, which Box Office Mojo currently lists as Untitled Michael Mann Project. The other is The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the classic 60s spy show. The former stars Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis, and is about American and Chinese military forces working together to stop a case of high-level hacking. The latter stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant, and will be directed by Guy Ritchie.
U.N.C.L.E. should do fine if it's a decent film. Get Smart numbers ($130 million) seem about right, but this could also just do okay at best… Make around say $60-80 million. It is a January release, but it can still do good enough. Cyber is harder to predict, but being an original that has some promise and a good cast, it could surprise. Legendary Pictures is on and off - box office-wise - when it comes to original fare that's not linked to any pre-existing franchise like Superman, Batman or 300.
Thriller The Boy Next Door, horror film Lazarus and Michael Bay-produced sci-fi Project Almanac open in the last weekends. These could go either way, but one thing's for certain, they'll score sub-$100 million. January isn't quite big movie season yet, until we see some actually very good movies open during that month. (hint hint, Gravity and The Lego Movie.)
Liam Neeson and director Jaume-Collet Serra team up yet again for another action-thriller in the form of Run All Night (2/6/2015). Neeson's on a roll, so that should make up to $70-80 million if good. The other film opening that weekend is Legendary Picture's completed but delayed Seventh Son. That was supposed to open in January of this year. It was pushed back because Legendary's transition to Universal Pictures. This film was originally a Warner Bros. release, but it ended up being handed to Universal. (A trailer was even released!) The source material is pretty much unknown, but the spectacle could help and the first weekend of February is not a bad time to release a movie. If good, it can do okay, but it probably cost a pretty penny. Its original release date suggested that Warner Bros. knew it wasn't going to be anything special at the box office.
Three different kinds of movies open on Valentine's Day weekend (2/13): Fifty Shades of Grey for the people who bought up the book, SpongeBob SquarePants 2 for the family audiences and Poltergeist for the horror film fans. Fifty Shades of Grey should open pretty big but then drop off like a rock, the R-rating will block the tweens/teens that made Twilight big and other audiences just won't care because the books are garbage. $125 million is probably the sky for this one, the highest opening I can see is roughly $50 million… But then again I might be underestimating the popularity of the books. Who knows, actually…
No matter what it makes, it'll probably cost very little.
SpongeBob SquarePants 2 should clear $100 million at the end of its run, because the first film's adjusted domestic total is $114 million. The show is still very popular (the re-runs dominate Nickelodeon's ratings - very telling), and the February release date gives it some much-needed breathing room. The first one opened against the likes of The Incredibles, National Treasure and The Polar Express… Yes, I bet you all feel old now.
Poltergeist, if good, should make around maybe $80 million tops. I can see it opening with around $80 million because the original was a big hit back in the day.
A Will Smith comedy-drama called Focus (2/27) also opens this month, which will be directed by Glenn Ficarra and Jon Requa, who directed Crazy, Stupid, Love. Since audiences seemed to really like that film (it opened with $19 million and climbed to $84 million), and combined with Will Smith, it should make an easy $100 million. $150 million could be the sky for this one.