Last summer fifteen movies made it past the $100 million mark, with five of those passing $200 million. This summer has some obvious pre-packaged hits, but after the first handfull, it gets dicier guessing what will actually do well.
Before I give my box-office predictions, I'll say last year I underestimated the box-office potential of Transformers 2, The Hangover, G.I. Joe, District 9 and Inglourious Basterds, I overestimated where Night at the Museum 2, Land of the Lost, Year One, Funny People, and Julie & Julia would land, and I was about on the money with Star Trek, Wolverine, G-Force, The Ugly Truth and Terminator Salvation.
1. IRON MAN 2 - $310 million - Tough to pick what'll be the biggest hit this year. Last year it was fairly obvious it was between Transformers 2 and Harry Potter 6. This year I'm a lot less confident. The preview looks pretty good. At least it doesn't look like a let-down. (May 7)
2. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE - $300 million - Far be it from me to underestimate the power of this franchise. Bella, Edward and Jacob will be back, and the brooding continues. The story's supposed to be a little more forward-moving than New Moon too. (July 2)
3. INCEPTION - $280 million - I'm banking purely on director Christopher Nolan here. Leonardo DiCaprio's post-Titanic career hasn't yielded any movie above $150 million, until now. (July 16)
4. TOY STORY 3 - $260 million - Pixar is king, but this sequel feels like it should've happened about eight years ago. Andy has moved on to college, so his toys gets donated to the local daycare center. Hijinks ensue. (June 18)
5. KNIGHT & DAY - $200 million - The first preview looked bad, but the second one looked pretty good and has had among the most positive reactions from audiences I've heard at the last few movies I saw. Tom Cruise is still a movie star, and I like reteaming him with Cameron Diaz for something that should be more fun than Vanilla Sky. (June 25)
6. SHREK FOREVER AFTER - $175 million - I hated the third one, but I figure this is one where I'm not like the masses, and this will still bring out big crowds. DreamWorks swears this is the last Shrek movie though. They promise. (May 21)
7. THE A-TEAM - $170 million - Probably the most kick-butt trailer for summer films. The nostalgia factor's there, the stunts are there, the likeable cast, a decent director (Joe Carnahan). Should be a good time. (June 11)
8. THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE - $160 million - Nicolas Cage, Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turtletaub are a reliable box-office team, and it looks like that while it does open against Inception, that shouldn't harm it. (July 16)
9. SEX & THE CITY 2 - $145 million - The gaudy sequel should do about as well as the first one. I never watched the series, but I saw the first movie and I still don't get how they're all so rich. (May 28)
10. SALT - $125 million - Angelina Jolie tends to do well in butt-kicking roles (Wanted, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). (July 23)
11. DESPICABLE ME - $120 million - I don't underestimate animated movies in the summer, and this one had a pretty good teaser. Steve Carell voices the lead, a fellow named Gru who wants to steal the world's treasures. (July 9)
12. THE OTHER GUYS - $115 million - Will Ferrell's had some misses lately, but with support from Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton, he may be back on course here. (Aug 6)
13. GROWN UPS - $112 million - Adam Sandler may have stumbled last year with the 2-1/2 hour Funny People last year, but this one looks more mainstream, more dumbed-down, PG-13. Should do well. (June 25)
14. PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME - $110 million - I have no idea why this'll do well, but I think it will. It looks like another Mummy movie, but Mike Newell's the director. (May 28)
15. THE LAST AIRBENDER - $104 million - M. Night Shyamalan has a chance to prove he can make a movie that doesn't rely on thrills, and to stop his trend of his next movie always being worse than the previous one. (July 2)
16. MARMADUKE - $100 million - A talking dog movie, it gets the beneift of hitting theaters before Cats & Dogs 2. The plot doesn't look any different than the Beethoven movies, but beethoven was a St. Bernard, and he didn't talk. (June 4)
17. PREDATORS - $90 million - If this is as bad as the Aliens vs. Predator movies, all bets are off, but this is the only real creature feature of note for the summer, and it has a decent cast. Plus it's not on Earth. (July 9)
18. DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS - $85 million - Steve Carell's comedic success streak should continue with this. (July 23)
19. THE EXPENDABLES - $80 million - It won't do Inglourious Basterds numbers, but Sly Stallone's ultimate action flick (where the preview includes the Arnie & Bruce cameos) will put a dent into August. (August 13)
20. ROBIN HOOD - $75 million - I don't know anyone excited for this. Curious, maybe, but when you talk of summer movies, many forget this is even coming. Perhaps it's because it looks like Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott are trying too hard to recpature their Gladiator glory. it actually wouldn't surprise me if Letters to Juliet, opening the same day, outperforms this.
LETTERS TO JULIET (May 14) - Amanda Seyfried's become the unlikeliest of movie stars.
JONAH HEX (June 18) - Hasn't had much publicity yet, but it doesn't have much competition for its weekend.
RAMONA & BEEZUS (July 23) - Mothers & daughters may rule this weekend after all, now that beverly Cleary beloved characters are finally getting the big-screen treatment.
BEASTLY (July 30) - This high-school reimagining of Beauty & the Beast may strike a chord, plus it has Neil Patrick Harris.
EAT PRAY LOVE (August 13) - I don't know how much star-power Julia Roberts still has, but she should be able to squeeze some out as she stars int he adaptation of this best-seller.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (August 13) - The preview got some good laughs int he crowd I saw it with. This is Michael Cera's chance to make up for Year One.
MACGRUBER - More SNL skit movies die than live.
KILLERS - Katherine Heigl finally strikes out.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK - An R-rated comedy that looks more determined to be gross than funny.
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU - Matt Damon's no longer a star.
PIRANHA 3D - 3-D's being way overdone.
Other releases: Cats & Dogs 2, Just Wright, Step Up 3D, Nanny McPhee 2, Takers, Lottery Ticket, Middlemen, Going the Distance.