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In A Crowded Summer 2013 Blockbuster Season, Which Risky Films Will Be Hits & Which Will Flop?

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 4, 2013 3:03 PM
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"R.I.P.D." (July 19th)
The Cost: Rumors are that it came in over $200 million, and that was before the recent decision to convert the film to 3D.
The Risk: Actually, we may have jumped the gun when we said that "Pacific Rim" might have the chance to be the summer's most high profile flop, we may have jumped the gun a bit. Ryan Reynolds had two summer misses in 2011 with "Green Lantern" and "The Change-Up," but by that time, he'd already been cast in this Universal production, which teams him with Jeff Bridges in a "Men In Black"-style effects-packed action comedy. The film shot at the end of 2011, and has been in lengthy post-production ever since, but five months out from release, not a single still or piece of footage has been unveiled. Perhaps of more concern, the studio made a last minute decision to convert the movie to 3D, which suggests that they think they could probably use the subsidized ticket sales ("Pacific Rim" did the same, but with a year to go). The public essentially have no idea that the film exists at this point, so Universal have a lot of work to do to get the word out, assuming that they don't end up pushing it back (which is entirely possible at this point).
The Reward: It should be mentioned that Reynolds had a solid hit with "Safe House," which like this, paired him with an older co-star, to the sum of $200 million worldwide. And last summer reminded us of the appeal of the "Men In Black" movies to worldwide moviegoers. But this is a new property, based on a comic no one knows, and Reynolds and Bridges don't equal Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. If the bad buzz is wrong, and the film's a crowd-pleaser, it could turn out to be a surprise and end up around the $400-500 million mark, but much more likely (given stiff competition) is that it ends up doing about the same as "Safe House," which would mean that Universal will be writing off a lot of money. Either way, they should probably start selling the thing. 

"Elysium" (Aug 9th)
The Cost: Significantly more than the $30 million cost of "District 9," the film was originally intended to be made for around $90 million, but we'd wager it came in over $100 million by the time reshoots were completed.
The Risk: Four years ago, "District 9" proved to be a pleasant surprise -- a low-budget sci-fi (that looked like it cost four or five time as much as it really did) with no names, sold mostly on the name of executive producer Peter Jackson, that proved to be a solid late-summer hit. This time around, expectations are higher, not least thanks to a bigger budget, and the presence of movie stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster as the hero and villain of the piece. But will the takings rise with the budget? The film's set to be very much a continuation of its predecessor, mixing socio-political themes, sci-fi and ultraviolence. But will those who caught up with "District 9" at home flock to theaters for this? They'll have to, because the film probably won't break even if it makes the same $210 million that its predecessor did. Sony pushed the film back from its original March 1st date, which is also a little concerning, particularly because August is so overloaded with older-skewing action pictures. And it's worth remembering that outside the "Bourne" movies, Matt Damon's hasn't been a consistent draw, although this does at least see him back on ass-kicking territory.
The Reward: Again, outside of a Comic-Con presentation (which was, it should be said, rapturously received), no trailer or footage has been seen from the film yet, though a few stills and virals have arrived. But "District 9" was a late starter too, and still played well. Like we said, if it matches that film's total (or that of last summer's "Total Recall" remake), it'll be disappointing, but if it can make it to the $300 million mark, it'll be a little more respectable.

Also out: Generally speaking, sequels to established franchises are safer bets, and the main question with "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Fast & Furious 6," "The Hangover Part 3," "Despicable Me 2," "Monsters University," "Grown Ups 2" and "The Wolverine" isn't if they'll make money, but how much they'll take. August brings some slightly dicier prospects in "300: Rise Of An Empire" (which doesn't retain the original director or most of the cast), "Red 2" and "Kick-Ass 2." The former two were sleepers that now have to stand their ground against more competition, the latter wasn't a huge hit in the first place, and was only greenlit on the basis of strong home video performance.

Elsewhere, "Epic" and "Turbo" mark new animated properties, and unless one tanks like "Rise of the Guardians" did last year, they should be fine. Horror flick "The Conjuring" looks to have the potential to be a sleeper hit (don't be surprised if it outgrosses the more expensive "R.I.P.D" when they open on the same weekend), while as "2 Guns" stars two of the most reliable box-office draws in North America, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, and we expect it'll do fine. Finally, "Man Of Steel" is an interesting question: it'll have to outperform "Superman Returns" to be seen as a success, but with the goodwill of Christopher Nolan's name (and the strong buzz we're hearing around the film), that shouldn't be a problem. 

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  • Daniel J | April 1, 2013 1:47 PMReply

    Movies have been as stale as three day old popcorn. Glad to see the summer movie season is upon us. Check out our summer preview over at Not spam, just a suggestion.

  • Nope | March 18, 2013 11:03 PMReply

    As usual, the fanboys are obsessed with numbers and their pet actors or directors. Here's the deal: it's all about the writing. The best actors and directors can't save a crappy script.

  • bapi | March 5, 2013 4:38 AMReply

    Oblivion - Some leaked e-mails from one production company said it has 165M production budget. I think it could make around 380M WW so nothing special but after DVD/BR sales etc. they could make some money.

    The Great Gatsby - with rumored 150M production budget... I can't see more than 260M WW. Not good at all for WB.

    After Earth - looks so bad so I believe it won't cross 250M WW.

    Now You See Me - looks good and I heard the script is fun so something around 180M WW is possible.

    World War Z - I think WWZ could finish around 400M. Woudl be a good result after so many problems.

    White House Down - the hottest actor under 35 + Emmerich + super-entertaining script = 320M WW

    Lone Ranger - 270M production budget and trailers look like another disaster, John Carter 2.0. But overseas markets should help Johnny again - 440M WW.

    Pacific Rim - GdT didn't make a really big movie yet and some fanboys are expecting 1 Billion or more - not possible! But something around 630M WW would be a fantastic result!

    R.I.P.D. - filming was completed in January '12 but I know they were still reshooting two weeks ago! This movie will be a complete disaster and won't cross 150M WW!

    Elysium - impossible to predict right now but I believe Elysium will make 310M WW!

  • Topy | March 5, 2013 12:15 AMReply

    I'd say The Lone Ranger won't bomb completely but they won't make a profit out of it...others don't really seem like they're gonna tank.

    Got a referral from Rope of Silicon. :)

  • Liam | March 4, 2013 6:02 PMReply

    My most anticipated movie here is definitely Now You See Me. It looks awesomely original & fun. I will see Oblivion, Fast & Furious 6, 300:Rise of an Empire, Sin City 2 & Man of steal in theater but for the others I don't know, maybe if my friends recommend some of them to me.

  • Jax | March 4, 2013 4:44 PMReply

    Jack Reacher out grossed Safehouse and had a 25 mil lesser budget!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • LordJiggy | March 4, 2013 4:43 PMReply

    "Pacific Rim" looks like wretched indulgent crap, "Godzilla Meets Transformers (run by guys in body suits!)," the kind of garbage fanboys who've spent too much time in the basement go into geek-gasms about. Attempting to slip in a little Lovecraftian lore isn't going to be enough.

  • Alan B | March 5, 2013 3:20 AM

    "The same brilliant mind that brought us Pan's Labyrinth." I don't understand this reasoning. Yes, 'Pan's Labyrinth' is a brilliant film. Yes, 'The Devil's Backbone' is also very good and weirdly underrated. However, there is a strong disconnect in terms of quality between his smaller films and his blockbusters. You can see in the second 'Blade' film that Del Toro is far more interested in the ancient vampire family and their tragedies than the generic superhero antics of the hero. 'Hellboy 2' is much better than the first film, mainly because Del Toro realize that, hey, maybe Hellboy should be the lead character in a Hellboy film. And 'Mimic' is just a stupid mess (though that's not entirely his fault). Now, he's doing a 'Transformers' knock-off where not only are the audiences disconnected from the action, but the characters are, too.

  • Efren | March 4, 2013 7:08 PM

    You could not be more wrong. Its directed by Guillermo Del Toro. The same brilliant mind that brought us Pan's Labyrinth. I doubt its going to be anything but a huge hit. The CGi looks top-notch. You're acting like an ignorant idiot. This is a fantastic idea for a summer blockbuster.

  • vincent | March 4, 2013 4:42 PMReply

    Jack Reacher made 213 mil, is getting a sequel and has a budget of only 60 mil. While u called Safehouse a hit, it has a budget of 85 mil and only made 207 mil.

  • cirkusfolk | March 4, 2013 4:30 PMReply

    I just saw a trailer for a film called Olympus Has Fallen that comes out March 22nd. I have never heard of this film and thought it was the similarly themed White House Down which comes out this summer at first. I guess we have another Mirror Moirror/Snow White and the Huntsman situation here but when I saw the budget for this Olympus film was 80 mil, I knew they had a flop on their hands. 3 weeks away and no marketing yet?

  • cirkusfolk | March 4, 2013 5:00 PM

    Well I guess I should've read the article first as u mention both films, ha.

  • j bone | March 4, 2013 4:27 PMReply

    i hope RIPD bombs, so we can finally put an end to the ryan reynolds is a movie star experiment

  • kindred spirit | March 4, 2013 8:15 PM

    Totally agree. He should take a few steps out of the newly written Blake Lively playbook and just take a breather and not do movies for a long time. Also, Gatsby will be a success- and have Oscar noms to boot.

  • NOPE | March 4, 2013 4:08 PMReply

    If RIPD costs 200 million it's going to fucking flop hard. Has anyone even heard about this movie? I thought this was some little 40 million dollar movie, why does this cost so much?

  • Nope | March 18, 2013 10:58 PM

    Of course you would totally agree. You gave yourself away with that Gatsby comment. Take off your Leo goggles and smell the coffee. If Gatsby was Oscar bait, it would have a better release date.

  • PRESIDENT MAO | March 4, 2013 3:37 PMReply

    'Pacific Rim' seems to be the next 'John Carter'. Wait and see.

  • Efren | March 4, 2013 7:09 PM

    Nah, it won't. It doesn't have Taylor Kitch. It has Guillermo Del Toro!

  • Will | March 4, 2013 4:26 PM

    'Pacific Rim' is going to make a killing overseas.

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