2016 Summer Box Office Predictions

Last year, I took part in a game of Summer box office predictions. The end result was that I won a competition at Trivia Club with said predictions, which was a huge surprise because I didn’t even get the number one film correct. Thanks, Trivia Club!


Long story short, I just don’t know when to get out. Below you will find my predictions for what 10 films will get the highest take at the domestic box office in Summer 2016, followed by a bit of explanation on my choices. But first, here are the rules of this Summer Movie Wager, a game originating from the now defunct Totally Rad Show that now lives on at the fine folks at /Film:


The object is to pick the films that you think will be the top-ten grossing films of the summer, in order of box-office performance. As I’ve said, that means only films released from [May 6, 2016] to the Labor Day weekend, counting only the money those films make domestically (US and Canada) in that period. In other words films from March or April might still be making money after May 1st, but they don’t count; films released from May on could start racking up foreign B.O., but that doesn’t count; films released from May on could still be making money into September, but that doesn’t count either. Box Office numbers are generally available late Monday or Tuesday after the weekend closes. For the last seven or so years, I have been using box office numbers from Yahoo Box Office which gets their numbers in turn from Box Office Mojo. So what you will be doing is figuring out what 10 films will make the most money, and putting them in order of what you think they will gross at the box office. BUT, in addition to your top 10, you get to pick 3 “Dark Horses”- films you think *might* make it, but that you are not confident enough about to put into the top 10 proper. (/Film)


Think of it like fantasy sports for movie nerds. You pick what 10 films will make the highest profit in the U.S. and Canada and the next three that don’t quite make the cut.

The point system is as follows:


  • Getting number 1 or number 10 dead-on gets you 13 points (each).

The rest of the scoring goes like this:

  • 10 points for numbers 2-9 dead-on
  • 7 points if your pick was only one spot away from where it ended up
  • 5 points if it was two spots away
  • 3 points if your pick is anywhere in the Top 10
  • 1 point for each dark horse that makes it into the Top 10

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.


My list for Summer 2016:

  1. Captain America: Civil War
  2. Finding Dory
  3. Ghostbusters
  4. Suicide Squad
  5. X-Men: Apocalypse
  6. Star Trek Beyond
  7. The Angry Birds Movie
  8. Alice Through the Looking Glass
  9. Independence Day: Resurgence
  10. The Secret Life of Pets


Dark Horses:

  • Jason Bourne
  • The BFG
  • Warcraft


Now, some explanation is in order.

First off, you would be insane not to assume Captain America: Civil War will take the number one spot. Then again…following the Marvel trend didn’t help my cause last year (when everyone and their aunt was sure that Avengers: Age of Ultron would destroy the summer).

This said, Civil War is opening to zero competition. Literally zero; it is the only wide release that weekend, because no one wants to go up against such a heavy hitter. Seeing as Money Monster will be the only competing film the following weekend, unless you count the Kevin Bacon led horror film The Darkness (which I don’t), Cap-Am: Civ War will have two solid weeks at number one. This is all without mentioning that Civil War looks like it is going to be significantly better than Age of Ultron.

Then we have the always hard to place children’s animated films. They always play well in the Summertime (parents need to find something to keep their crazed children busy while they are off of school), but they also play to varying degrees of success.

Pixar’s Finding Dory is the easiest to place in this camp. Not only will it bring in the parent-child crowd, but it will also have nostalgia value for millennials who grew up with the original. This film could be huge…unless it is an insufferable movie quality-wise. Either way, it will break the top ten. But if it brings anything close to the original to the screen, it will likely show big numbers in mid-June, a time where Angry Birds will have already petered out and no other family friendly film is in sight.

Speaking of Angry Birds, I have no idea what to make of this one. Based on premise alone, it doesn’t scream great movie to me. But great movies don’t always equate to great money-makers. The brand will pull in enough people, but it is also a pretty outdated brand, right? I’ve stuck the film at the seven spot just to be safe.

As for The Secret Life of Pets and The BFG, I’m up in the air. Pets could easily do better than Angry Birds given good reception; it all reads like a crap shoot this far out. And The BFG is the biggest question mark. Do kids still read that book? Will adults who have memories of the book care enough to see a film adaptation? What I know for sure is that it has two huge names behind it: Disney and Steven Spielberg. What I don’t think it has behind it is enough word of mouth to crack the top ten, so I’ve dark horsed it to hedge my bets.

Let me break down this animated race a different way. The Angry Birds Movie and Finding Dory will have a fair deal of time in the Summer schedule where they won’t face strong competition from another family-friendly film (Alice Through the Looking Glass being the only exception, but that is an entirely different conversation). If Finding Dory does as well as I assume it will, The BFG will face the film in its third weekend, where it will still be raking in the cash. The following week is the opening of The Secret Life of Pets, which will then face competition from both (or will supplant The BFG, which would make it a near certainty that The BFG will not break the top ten). So…there’s that.

GhostbustersOh, Ghostbusters. What do we do with you? Your trailer was just…just not that good. Your buzz has been more about casting than about content. And, frankly, you just can’t recapture that 1984 magic. You know I love you Paul Feig, but it just can’t happen.

What does this all mean for box office? Well, that’s a good question, and it’s what’s making my positioning of the film difficult. I have it at four, and my gut tells me that that is the wrong place. But my gut also claimed last year that Jurassic World was going to be a bust of a reboot, and, well…we know how that turned out. Again, I feel that I have to hedge my bets: Ghostbusters is a gigantic property, just like Jurassic Park, and that alone may pay dividends at the box office.

On the other side of the coin, my gut is screaming at me to put Suicide Squad high. But that might just be my wishful heart hoping that the film will be good. Even if it’s not, though, we can look at this year’s Batman v. Superman to give us proof that a film does not need to be critically successful to pay the bills. But here’s the rub: even your mom recognizes the names Batman and Superman. She doesn’t know the names Deadshot or Killer Croc. You can ask her if you want, but it’s true.

What this means is that Suicide Squad will inevitably make less money than Dawn of Justice. However (if the film is good) we may see Suicide Squad not dip so low from opening weekend to weekend two, or perhaps even spike up if the film opens to a questioning audience. Bottom line is, when just comparing the trailers, Suicide Squad appears superior to Batman v. Superman. And, being the hopeful critic that I am, one would hope that that accounts for something on the box office front.

The middle of my top ten list is a showdown. Star Trek BeyondX-Men: Apocalypse, and Alice Through the Looking Glass is a three-way race that could come down to mere millions of dollars. Let’s look at the numbers.

The last two X-Men films (really the only ones that matter trend-wise to this film’s potential box office take) grossed nearly the same thing, about $234 million. The first Star Trek reboot film grossed more than this ($257 million), but it’s sequel dipped quite a bit from that number ($228 million). And I feel that this threequel isn’t faring to do much better than Into Darkness.

What Star Trek Beyond does have going for it is a nice opening weekend. If Ghostbusters does indeed open strong, it could compete against Beyond (it would be that film’s second weekend), and Jason Bourne opens the following weekend (more on this later). But the weekend of July 22 is owned by Star Trek. As for X-Men and Alice Through the Looking Glass, they open in direct competition with each other, and this threatens to split the vote and knock both films down the top ten list.

What do we make of this? (1) X-Men will beat Alice in their opening weekend, but the real question is “by how much?” (2) I have a strong feeling that Star Trek Beyond will not be a critical success, and not having Abrams behind the camera will be the major factor in this. (3) Doing a quick search on Google Trends shows more searches for the X-Men film than the other two in discussion here, by quite a large margin, over the last 90 days. So…I’m putting my chips behind X-Men.

As for the bottom of the list, the dark horses could easily jump up and knock down Independence Day: Resurgence (because who knows what’s going on with that movie) or The Secret Life of Pets (as I mentioned before with its competition with The BFG).

Jason Bourne. Warcraft. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. The Conjuring (Perhaps, but probably not). What do we do with these extraneous movies? Honestly, it’s too much to parse, as a lot of it will come down to chance. What I do feel strongly for, though, is Jason Bourne. One could make the argument that the last installment was a financial flop compared to the rest, but that one didn’t have the man himself, Matt Damon. I think this film is more likely to do Ultimatum numbers than Legacy numbers.

Warcraft could break the mold for video game movies, or it could be derided as a CGI clusterf**k and buried as a result. I’m imagining something in-between these two scenarios, which translates to not enough traction for top ten numbers.

TMNT is an odd one. The last film didn’t break $200 million domestically, but there seems to be a lot more talk behind this film than the last one. So…maybe they did it right this time around? I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see on that one. It will at least do well in its opening weekend, even if it doesn’t take number one.

Have I covered everything? I can’t tell; I blacked out there for a second. There’s my top ten and a tiny bit of explanation of my choices. Let me know in the comments what you think about this Summer movie season. What movie do you think will take the number one spot? What movie are you most excited for this Summer?


As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)

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