Freshly Popped Culture Presents: The Summer 2017 Box Office Game of Games


A.K.A “We all make some crazy box office predictions for Summer 2017, and wait to find out who was the least crazy.”


Is there anything funner than the summer box office? Why, yes, two things — gambling, and making your friends and peers look foolish. Thankfully, a Summer Movie Wager accomplishes all three of these things!

The concept of a Summer Movie Wager is simple: assemble a bunch of people, have them create a list of what they predict will be the 10 highest grossing films of 2017, and bask in how stupid everybody looks a few months later. Shamelessly cribbed from the concept popularized by the /Film crew, we here at Freshly Popped Culture very much wanted to get in on the fun of looking foolish in hindsight, so four of us (Matthew Legarreta, Jared Russo, Justin Powell, and Jeremy Sollie) have gotten together to make our predictions on what will reign supreme at the box office this summer.

At the end of the summer movie season (a.k.a. Labor Day), we will return to tabulate the scores, and determine who is the least wrong of us all. That is the height of success in the Summer Movie Wager: you’re either wrong, super wrong, or least wrong. There is no right.

In any case, here’s how our internal point keeping system works. We run things a little bit differently than some of the other Summer Movie Wagers out there, so pay close attention. It might seem completely arbitrary but, trust me, it totally is.

The scoring system is thus:

  • 10 points for hitting a movie dead-on on the list
  • 7 points if your pick was only one spot away from where it ended up
  • 5 points if it was two spots away
  • 1 point if your pick is anywhere in the Top 10
  • 3 points for each dark horse that makes it into the Top 10
  • 5 points if your prediction on total domestic box office is within $10 million dollars

The scoring is tabulated so that you get the SINGLE HIGHEST point value for each pick- that is, if you get number ten right, you don’t get 13+3, you only get 13.

The winner gets to pick a thing the others have to watch or listen to or play, as long as it doesn’t run for over 3 hours in length.

Without further ado, let’s kick off our predictions!


MATT’S PICKS


1. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5)

Predicted Gross: $400 million

This is a no-brainer for pretty much everyone. I haven’t seen an audience fall in love with what is essentially a new IP (for most people, anyways) in a VERY long time, and the enthusiasm for the first film will propel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol . 2 to massive heights. More than any other film on this list, EVERYONE wants to see Guardians 2. And by my estimation, everyone will.


2. Despicable Me 3 (June 30)

Predicted Gross: $375 million

I have learned the dangers of underestimating the Minions (and the company that created them, Illumination Entertainment) many times over, so I won’t be making the same mistake this year. Somehow, someway, Despicable Me is one of the biggest franchises in the world, and Illumination is one of the most successful studios. Yeah, I don’t get it either.


3. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Estimated Gross: $315 million

Spider-Man is and always will be my favorite superhero, and clearly I’m not the only who shares that sentiment. And more than perhaps anything else in the world, I REALLY want another great Spider-Man film. But will the over-saturation of the character from the Amazing films cause this one to not soar to the highest of box office heights? Maybe, but the addition of the character into the MCU and his scene-stealing role in Captain America: Civil War will still make this one a massive hit. How massive, though, is the question.


4. War for the Planet of the Apes

Estimated Gross: $225 million

I would have never expected this to be the case a decade ago, but the new Planet of the Apes series is probably my favorite film franchise currently running. Yes, even more than the MCU, or John Wick, or even Star Wars. That’s how much I was absolutely blown away by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and how much I am looking forward to War for the Planet of the Apes. It’s the kind of passion and excitement that I can only hope will lead to even greater success for the film. At the very least, it’s my most anticipated release of the summer. I can only hope I’m not the only person who feels this way.


5. Cars 3

Estimated Gross: $210 million

Cars is huge — we all know this, as Disney and Pixar won’t stop making the damn things. And though Cars 2 did not quite reach the pinnacle of the first film, I still think Cars 3 is going to be pretty successful. It seems like, in response to the poor reception to the sequel, Cars 3 will be going back to the basics here, and try to deliver something of actual quality. If they can do that, Cars 3 will easily best its predecessor…but probably won’t triumph of the original all-the-same.


6. Transformers: The Last Knight

Estimated Gross: $205 million

Even though we all talk about the Transformers series with the most hyperbolic hatred imaginable, it is important to notice that the film’s have been making less and less the more they go on. Of course “less” for the Transformers series is still multiple millions of dollars but, hey, we should just take what we can get at this point.

(I would mention the fact that the series is still making over a billion worldwide and will probably do the same with The Last Knight but, c’mon, I really don’t want to bum everyone out again. Let’s just stick with the last reassuring thing I said)


7. Wonder Woman

Estimated Gross: $200 million

Is the public starting to turn on the DC Expanded Universe? I would say yes, and that’s why I don’t see Wonder Woman being a huge, breakout success. It will do fine, but will be the first sign for Warner Bros. that they can’t keep making shitty movies and expecting the people to show up. Of course, they’ll probably just view the film’s relative failure as a sign that women can’t headline big blockbusters…because they are assholes.


8. Dunkirk (July 21)

Estimated Gross: $195 million

With the success of EA’s Battlefield 1, Call of Duty’s return to World War II, and the incoming real-world reboot of the entire series, World War’s are quickly coming back into the popular consciousness. That makes this a perfect time for the release of Dunkirk, and I think Christopher Nolan’s film will very much be able to capitalize on that. Because, believe it or not, older adults want to watch movies during the summer too. And at the height of July, this will probably be their choice.


9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)

Estimated Gross: $180 million

Ten years ago, a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie might have been the biggest hit of the summer. But, once again, that was a decade ago. There was no MCU, and no new Star Wars films. There’s still a cultural cache for the Pirates series, but it won’t be as deep as it was before. But Disney shouldn’t freight — foreign grosses are going to be insane. Their Johnny Depp tolerance hasn’t been broken yet, it seems.


10. Baywatch (May 25)

Estimated Gross: $120 million

There’s always at least one R-rated comedy that breaks out over the summer, and my guess is that Baywatch will be that film. The Rock is simply that big of a star, and his last comedic film, last year’s Central Intelligence, made over $100 million. And, yes, broke into the Top 10 of the summer for that year. With the name brand of Baywatch, I expect similar results for Baywatch.


Dark Horses

  1. The Mummy (June 9) — I don’t think The Mummy is going to be all that successful for Universal (is anyone really excited for this film?), but it might be able to eek out a slot on the list. Tom Cruise is a name, after all.
  2. Rough Night (June 16) — Rough Night has a crazy good cast and, if it’s good, could become the surprise comedy hit of the summer, ala Bridesmaids or The Hangover. Hell, it’s opening in the same “mid-June” timeframe that made the latter film such a massive success. Clearly that’s what Sony is hoping for the film, but we’ll see if it reaches the same heights.
  3. Alien: Covenant (May 19) — It’s an Alien movie, so it will make money. But will it make enough to breach the top 10 (a.k.a. over $120 million). Not so sure, mostly because I’m not so sure about the quality of the film itself. But hey, that’s Ridley Scott for you! It will either be gold, or shit.

JARED’S PICKS:


1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 10)

Estimated Gross: $410 million

This is the obvious selection for number one, and yeah it’s the lazy, easy way out. No-brainer. Early release date, weak competition, first movie that over performed at the box office in AUGUST, it has everything going for it. Name recognition, baby Groot, advertising, MCU connections, soundtrack, colors, Kurt Russell’s beard, the works. This is the juggernaut of the summer and the clear film to beat. Let’s just hope a ‘Finding Dory’ upset doesn’t happen over a Marvel movie like last time or else I’m screwed.


2. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

Estimated Gross: $395 million

This is the risky pick that everyone on this list takes at some point, trying to differentiate their rankings from the competition. I did not have the guts to place it first, because as the biggest Spider-man fan here I knew that winning this competition meant more than unjustifiably wishing Homecoming made more than Guardians. That won’t happen, I hope it does, but I really do think this is the year of Marvel, and just like after 9/11 we needed the web head very badly. And with the way things are going nowadays, the apocalypse is very close, so we need Peter Parker more than ever. Save us Spidey!


3. Despicable Me 3 (June 30)

Estimated Gross: $375 million

Kids movies are always a lock for high grosses, more so than super heroes. This year it’s sort of different, but that won’t stop this stupid fucking thing from making a ton of money. I will never see anything with a minion in it, I will never understand the appeal, or why adults allow themselves to be subjected to such cruelty when they can skip the theater experience all together and just turn on Netflix for their kids. I will also never understand the appeal or reasoning behind adults voting for republicans or third party, but that’s another story. Save us Spidey, from stupid adults and children who like minions!


4. Cars 3 (June 16)

Total Gross: $225 million

I could post the same paragraph from above and place it here, again, but this is a chance for me to do a different rant. Cars? Really America? Fucking Cars? Why the hell is this such a popular Pixar franchise? Are you really buying that many toy cars from Disney? Who the fuck told you to do that? Your dumb kids? Fuck them, they’ll like what you buy for them or they can deal with it.


5. War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)

Estimated Gross: $215 million

Here is where the list starts getting interesting for this game, and hard for all of us rankers. There is no real middle class for films anymore, just super big blockbusters that take all the money, and the losers and have-nots. Sounds like our economy of late. Anyways, the game is won from correctly predicting 5–10, because anything is possible and a lot of stuff doesn’t reach over $200 million domestic anymore. Last year’s slate sucked in comparison, but I imagine good word of mouth and a strong title could get this sequel to squeak over the competition and land at five. Or it’s what I really want to happen, because fuck pirates and transformers.


6. Transformers: The Last Night (June 23)

Estimated Gross: $205 million

No seriously, fuck these stupid movies and anybody who likes them. You’re bad and you should feel bad. The numbers keep getting lower and lower as Bay cranks out more and more, so fatigue will drop this piece of shit to six. I think. I hope.


7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)

Estimated Gross: $200 million

Same with this tired and dead franchise, but with a slightly lower estimate because Depp turned out to be a scumbag and I’m not sure he can carry a movie anymore. Alice Through the Looking Glass, anybody?


8. Wonder Woman (June 2)

Estimated Gross: $175 million

I really did not know where to place this fucking movie; it was as high as 3 initially, and then the more I thought about it, the lower the total went. It fell to 8, and I don’t feel great about it. But the lack of marketing push behind this thing, the lack of buzz, the release date, and the toxicity of DC films previously could really impact it. I’d like to think that a woman leading a super hero movie would be enough to really make this a success, but if it’s bad, then no way it has legs. And if people didn’t vote for a woman president, they might not want to see ANY empowered females. Morons.


9. Baywatch (May 25)

Estimated Gross: $150 million

The trailer for this has: the Rock, jokes, boobs, and the promise of Hasselhoff. That should be enough, right? It could be the biggest comedy hit of the summer. Adults go, teens go, beach weather, horny kids, sure why not?


10. Dunkirk (July 21)

Estimated Gross: $100 million

Both Wonder Woman and Dunkirk are about old grey wars that will bum people out. The Chris Nolan name is overrated in terms of box office revenue, and a lot of people keep thinking that audiences either know who he is, or give a shit. They don’t. This will be a disappointment money wise, and that pains me to say it, because I love Nolan and I’m so down for this in 70mm, but I’m not seeing a real path to success for this one.


Dark Horses

1 . The Mummy (June 9) — Tom Cruise makes money. He prints it. The Mummy series was super huge back in the day, people loved that crap when it came out. It’s been a while, so yeah this could be a hit.

2. Alien: Covenant (May 19) — The only reason this didn’t make the top ten for me, which I wavered on, is the release date being suicide. But it’s an R rated horror film with clout, good trailers, and you never know. It has the word Alien in the title, it’s real easy to see why this could do well.

3. Captain Underpants (June 2) — I fucking love these books, so do millions of other people, and everything about this screams smash hit. I really think this could do well, and knock out things like Dunkirk, but I don’t have the balls to rank it higher. But I really think this could be the surprise of the year.


JUSTIN’S PICKS


1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

Estimated Gross: $400 million

The Mouse has built a juggernaut in The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Returning with the sequel to the surprise box office 2014 film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 looks to take Marvel’s annual spot of having a Top 3 Highest Grossing Film of the year in the US, as they have done every year since 2012. Maybe Marvel’s truest four quadrant film series, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 probably will be the box office king of 2017…until The Mouse shows us the power of the darkside, of course.


2. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

Estimated Gross: $375 million

The Big 3 of Superheroes are Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. So if any Big 3 superhero film is going be released, it’s probably going to be one of the biggest films of the year. Even if it’s bad like Batman v Superman or The Amazing Spider-Man. But I’m not thinking about those film when I’m thinking Spider-Man: Homecoming, I’m thinking about 2002. When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man debuted around this time 15 years ago, it was earth shattering (maybe 9/11 had something to do with that, to be fair.) The largest opening weekend box office of all time. $400 Million domestic gross. That doesn’t seem like that much now, but in 2002, only Titanic, Star Wars, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial had made more money. Coming of the boost of Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming will push Spider-Man back to the Big 3 box office king on July 7th.


3. Despicable Me 3 (June 30)

Estimated Gross: $365 million

So what movie could came close to replacing Spider-Man at #2 on this list? A children’s film, of course. I don’t want to write Despicable Me 3 off, as I saw the original 2010 film and enjoyed myself (you show the clip of the little girl saying “IT’S SO FLUFFY”, I’ll laugh right now) but I’m in my early 30s, I have no kids or nieces and nephews, & I don’t know what kids like. Case in point: two years ago, Minions came out and I thought “This looks stupid!” That film made a Billion Dollars worldwide. So even if the collapse of Western Civilization occurs on the last week of June 2017, this film would still make at least $325 Million US.


4. Wonder Woman (June 2)

Estimated Gross: $342 million

This is kind of the a shot in the dark, but let me explain. Man of Steel, a movie that’s nearly universal maligned film, is still the best of the DC Extended Universe (for the record, I’ve kind of grown on me over the years). That’s why I’m saying this is a shot in the dark — I want this film to be good so bad. Please! Now, he’s why it’s not really a shot in the dark. Man of Steel made $291 Million US, BvS made $330 Million US, and Suicide Squad made $325 Million US: despite their perceived lack of quality, these films make money. So I’m hoping the best part of Batman v Superman, Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, works and makes money it actually deserves. And it should, especially since it seems like it’s copying more from Captain America: The First Avenger than any other DCEU film.


5. Transformers: The Last Knight (June 30)

Estimated Gross: $280 million

People will go see Transformers film no matter what. I know this because, despite everything, I’ve seen all four Transformers films in theaters. But this film is going to be utterly ridiculous, because it contains the following things all in one film: Knights of the Round Table, Nazis, Supercars, Giant Robots fighting, Jerrod Carmichael, and a hundred million dollars worth of hero shots of US Special Force soldiers. Add Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, & some of the characters from the original trilogy and I’m in. Plus, every Transformer films has made at least $245 Million US, so…


6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)

Estimated Gross: $265 million

I’ve long advocated that Johnny Depp needs to go away for a while (because he’s made only two good film in this past decade), but I’d assume it cost Disney close to Downey’s $50 Million salary for Captain America: Civil War to reprise the role of Jack Sparrow six years after the last film. And, if that’s true, I really can’t be mad at him. These films, like the Transformers films, cost incredible amounts of money and are critic proof, so ultimately, this film will end up making monstrous sums of money. And because I don’t care about spoiling it, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are in the movie, so that will help.


7. War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)

Estimated Gross: $230 million

Unexpectedly some of the best Sci-Fi of the last few years, this new Planet of the Apes series has shown a lot of promise. And under the guidance of Matt Reeves again, I’d imagine that The War for the Planet of the Apes tops the box office of the 2014 film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.


8. The Hitmen’s Bodyguard (August 18)

Estimated Gross: $205 million

For some reason, America loved Deadpool, to the tune of 350 + Million Dollars. Well, Ryan Reynolds is back using profanity and shooting guns, but this time, he’s brought America’s favorite profanity spouting hitmen, Samuel L. Jackson, with him. This movie doesn’t look the best, but once you saw that red band trailer, you said to yourself “Sure, why not. It’s probably better than Deadpool.


9. Cars 3 (June 16)

Estimated Gross: $200 million

Everyone loves Pixar, and largely, they are correct too. But the Cars series, widely regarded as the bottom of Pixar Library, is still going to make a lot of money. How much is the question?


10. The Mummy (June 9)

Estimated Gross: $193 million

So despite the fact that Tom Cruise is older than Brendan Fraser, The Mummy is being rebooted with him, because Tom Cruise is more famous, and a better box office draw than Brendan Fraser. I mean, when was the last time you heard the name Brendan Fraser? The answer is probably the last time he was in a Mummy film. The modern Mummy property wasn’t ever a massive hit, but I think adding Tom Cruise can booster this film to better the returns than previous trilogy’s best — but we’ll just have to wait and see.



Dark Horses

1.The Emoji Movie (July 28)So this thing is going either be a massive hit or a massive flop. What do you say about a film that’s based around a mode of communication? You could say it’s the absolute bottom of the barrel…but then there’s the previously mention last five years of Johnny Depp films we have been given, so not really.

2. Baywatch (May 25) — Is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson the most likable person alive? Seriously, have you ever heard someone seriously say “Fuck that guy”? Thinking that, why not do Baywatch? Baywatch was a totally self serious, ridiculous tv program about lifeguards fighting crime on the beaches of South California. It was also the most popular program in the world for five years. It’s ripe for mockery, and the fact that they went full R rating should make this a hit.

3. The Dark Tower (August 4)This is the trickiest film on my list, because I don’t know what to make of it. The first Dark Tower book by Stephen King is 35 years old, but this is a highly touted projected that has been in development for years. Putting Idris Elba opposite Matthew McConaughy gives this smaller budget film a chance to become a hit too.


JEREMY’S PICKS


1. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

Estimated Gross: $375 million

I’m going out on a limb with my number one pick… Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets!

My actual pick is Spider-Man: Homecoming. Every Spider-Man film has made less money than the one before it. 2002’s Spider-Man still sits high with $403 million, with 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 only pulling in $202 million. Audiences seemed to be burned out on the web-head until he popped up in Civil War, and they suddenly remembered what a blast the character could be when done well. So I’m predicting a high turnout for his first solo film under Marvel’s watch, especially since Robert Downey Jr. accompanies him. That still may not be enough to match the first film, but it could be enough to win the summer.


2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (May 5)

Estimated Gross: $350 million

Guardians of the Galaxy performed so well that I’m unsure if Vol. 2 will perform that much better. People who loved the first should come back for the sequel, but will there also be people who missed seeing the first in theaters but show up for this? I’m not sure, so I’m predicting a gross only slightly higher than the original.


3. Despicable Me 3 (June 30)

Estimated Gross: $325 million

Big jump in grosses here to my number three, the third film in the Despicable Me series. This could easily outperform my prediction, but I’m placing it just below Despicable Me 2 and Minions, since series usually hit a saturation point around the fourth or fifth entry. But these are such huge grossers that hitting the saturation point would still result in $300+ million.


4. Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23)

Estimated Gross: $230 million

While I think there’s a chance this will underperform and not hit $200 million domestic, my faith in humanity — though bolstered by the Apes films — is not strong enough to bet on it. People keep showing up to the see these things, and even though this film involving “history” and “professors” might put some of them off, it’s still going to make too much.


5. War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)

Estimated Gross: ($225 million)

In a lone positive sign for humanity, the recent Planet of the Apes films have done remarkably well. Dawn added about $30 million to Rise’s domestic gross, and I’m predicting a similar increase for War. Dawn, one of the best films of the decade (don’t @ me), handles its action scenes with dread, and a sizable portion of the film is apes communicating through broken English and subtitled sign language — and it made over $200 million. Audiences showed up for — and largely enjoyed — that film, so the sequel, which seems to up the conflict, should perform even better. I sense a ceiling — around $250 million — for films like this, but I would love to be proven wrong.


6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tale No Tales (May 26)

Estimated Gross: $210 million

I’m unsure if there is anything this film — or Johnny Depp — could do that would result in Pirates 5(!!!) performing below $200 million. People keep showing up for these films, despite the series never topping the first entry (that wheel fight, though). Even though I suspect this will draw a smaller audience than the previous four, a smaller audience means less than $240 million, which is what the last one made. Think on your sins.


7. Cars 3 (June 16)

Estimated Gross: $205 million

This was in my number two spot before I checked the grosses of the earlier films and realized Cars only made $245 million domestic, while Cars 2 only made $191 million domestic. That doesn’t seem right! But it is, apparently, so here Cars 3 rests, five spots below where I originally had it. After shifting gears with a James Bond riff, the Cars series is once again about racing, with Cars 3 focusing on Lightning McQueen recovering from an injury and training to win again. I was sure this would make about twice this, but I’m clearly not as devoted a Cars fan as my Lightning McQueen bed would suggest. So, going by past grosses — $205 million. Ka-chow.


8. Wonder Woman (June 2)

Estimated Gross: $200 million

Ideally, the first female-led superhero film since Elektra and Æon Flux would place much higher on this list. But Wonder Woman is hitting during a busy time, and after a couple years of DC being told to go home and get its shine box. This is a superhero film, so it’s still going to do well, but the marketing shows a film with a sense of humor but no sense of action. Unless this is secretly great, and word of mouth brings DC apathetics like me to the theater, it’s going to be DC’s lowest performing film.


9. Dunkirk (July 21)

Estimated Gross: $175 million

Interstellar proved that Christopher Nolan isn’t a guaranteed hitmaker, even with an all-star cast. The subject matter and casting of Harry Styles will likely attract both dads and teenage girls, respectively, and Nolan’s name still has some pull. However, so far, the marketing has consisted of brief glimpses of war spread out between land, air, and sea, with no sense of character or emotion. People tend to want those in a war film. While those may be present in the film, keeping them out of the trailers may result in moviegoers feeling a little cold towards the film, and this doing very well, but not great.


10. Alien: Covenant

Estimated Gross: $150 million

Coming after the solidly grossing Prometheus, and an excellent marketing campaign that focused on the series’ return to horror and Xenomorph kills, Alien: Covenant should do well, even in a packed debut month. I’m not sure that this generation of moviegoers has any real affinity for the Alien series, but despite its increasingly complicated mythology, many of the entries boil down to people fighting against, and getting picked off by, creepy aliens. That’s what attracted people to the original films, and it should do the same for Alien: Covenant. If it’s good enough, this could actually end up as one of the highest grossing films of the summer, but I’m not confident enough in my prediction to have it reflect in my ranking.


Dark Horses

1. Baywatch (May 25) — Audiences love the Rock, and seem indifferent to Zac Efron, so the two of them together… could be successful? This one could go either way, it’s the ideal dark horse pick.

2. The House (June 30) — Do audiences still like Will Ferrell? We’ll find out in June, when this comes out. The pairing of Ferrell and Amy Poehler would have killed a decade ago, but could still be successful now.

3. Logan Lucky (August 18) — Not because it’s the return of Soderbergh — ideally, that would be enough — but because it’s Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Daniel Craig in a heist movie. And the NASCAR setting should mean it does well in the South.


And there you have it, our complete predictions. Have a good summer movie season — we’ll be back to see who won four months from now!

…I mean, we’ll still be here like, writing articles and things, but you get my point.