Which 2012 summer blockbusters will join the exclusive domestic club…

It’s that time of year where yours truly will alienate himself from his fellow writers once again. Actually, they’ll probably just call me an arrogant prick. Why? Well, most of them are authoring their 2012 summer movie preview, which is a common practice or tradition (that I used to partake in) in the film journalism realm around this time of year. That is essentially worthless.

Aside from alerting moviegoers to when a flick opens; who will appear in it; and what it’s about, the rest of these columns are bloated with pure redundant speculation. Newsflash folks, 99.9% of the time, none of us have a clue how good or bad a movie will be. Why we waste our breath in a borderline narcissistic manner is baffling in this regard. Sure the counter-argument is that many of us review these said movies, and one could easily ask who died and made us the judge-n-jury of what makes a solid product. Answer: Nobody. And everybody. And appropriately for some: internet access and crappy standards set on certain “paying” web sites.

But at least I’m not ignorant enough to say something will be worthwhile or not without having experienced it yet. Sounds kind of logical right?

So that’s why this annual article looks at the summer movie season from another perspective: Box office performance. It’s just different (dare we do anything out of the ordinary in this field) and kind of fun in the same vein as filling out the brackets for the NCAA tournament and/or playing Fantasy Football in some respects.

Anyway, why is reaching $300 million imperative to studios on the home front? Simple; because the production budgets for the majority of these blockbusters can range anywhere from $150 to $250 million these days.

Generally, a film will have to double its production budget at a theater to have a shot at the black ink on the balance sheet. While marketing costs – which are separate from the production budget – play a role, too, those can vary. Plus studios release so many B.S. updates during production; foolish journalists are already doing a good portion of the marketing for them. And with a major Steve Nash-like assist coming from international territories the last few years, the big boys are just striving to breakeven in America so the majority of the revenue overseas acts as icing on the proverbial cake. Knowing that, the international totals have become godsends for a few studio executives’ polished asses the last couple years, after experiencing disappointing domestic performances.

Thus far, 39 films have eclipsed the $300 million mark on the domestic front. Here’s a breakdown at the films that have done it in the last 10 years:

2011: 2 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon)
2010: 4 (Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland, Iron Man 2, The Twilight Saga: Eclispe)
2009: 3 (Avatar, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
2008: 3 (The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Indiana Jones IV)
2007: 4 (Spider-Man 3, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Shrek the Third)
2006: 1 (Pirates of the Caribbean 2)
2005: 1 (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith)
2004: 3 (Shrek 2, Spider-Man 2, Passion of the Christ)
2003: 3 (Pirates of the Caribbean 1, Finding Nemo, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King)
2002: 3 (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Spider-Man)

Note: Making bank during a theatrical run does not equate to excellent filmmaking

As for 2012’s summer contenders, this is a fairly easy year to predict. And yes Hunger Games spaz, we know it already crossed the $300 million line earlier this month and will give it its due credit (these fans are becoming annoying as Twi-hards; therefore, one must cover their booty).

The Avengers

The curtain-jerker will for the summer movie season (May through August) will undoubtedly hit the coveted milestone and then some. Just fans of Iron Man alone could make this happen; and when factoring in the decent performances of Captain America and Thor last year, this will be entry #40 by the time June hits.

The Dark Knight Rises

Does this really need any analyzing? Even if 40% of the people that saw The Dark Knight ($533.3 million domestic haul) were somehow turned off by this franchise, it will still fly past the touted financial mark. Look for this to be a contender for highest grosser of the year stateside. That is all.

The Amazing Spider-Man

The three previous Spider-Man installments helmed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, all whipped past $300 million. Hell, the franchise averages a domestic take of $371 million. Now granted those two components are gone and have been replaced by director Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield – who will be slipping into the spidey-suit. Spider-Man clearly has the fan-base to make this happen but one has to wonder if a few of them will hold-off to see what the lovely critics and audience word-of-mouth reveals based on the random changes and direction of the story. Also, opening on 4th of July weekend has its advantages of course, but there is some competition in the weeks prior and after from other notable features that could dip into their momentum. Just saying…it’s a crowded summer.

Final projection: 3 flicks enter the $300 million club.

(Quick stat: 28 of the 39 members of the $300 million club have occurred within the last ten years. Got to love inflation, and most recently, gimmick 3D.)

Figures courtesy of Boxofficemojo.com

By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *