May 2009 Forecast
By David Mumpower
May 1, 2009
Why am I not showing Pixar any love? Well, I'm putting it above a film I think earns about $210 million domestically, so this is hardly a slap in the face. While many believe that Pixar is in a slump that is in direct correlation to the subject matter of its prior two films, a cooking rat and a laconic robot, I see other factors at play. People have come to trust Pixar releases so much that it's inevitable they will purchase each and every release on DVD/Blu Ray. Given the four month window most films have prior to their release on home video, the onus is not on them to see a Pixar release in theaters. I am convinced this is the case, but I believe Up will counteract this a bit in the same way that we recently watched occur with Monsters vs. Aliens, a DreamWorks title with current box office north of $175 million. One of the unheralded keys to its success is the inflated revenue that stems from 3-D/digital ticket price inflation, which is over 50% higher than regular tickets. Up is the first Pixar film to capitalize on this emerging revenue factor, and it could be enough to put the best studio in the industry on track again as a box office juggernaut.
4) X-Men Origins: Wolverine
This one is a very tough call for me. Using the logic above regarding a film's quality buying a line of credit for the sequel, X-Men: The Last Stand is Enron multiplied by AIG. What a brutal cinematic mess that was, fuck you very much, Brett Ratner. While I think the lingering memory of that hurts this semi-sequel quite a bit, making an origin tale about the most popular character is savvy. It sidesteps much of the stigma attached to The Last Stand while maintaining the direct lineage with the X-Men film franchise. This trio of titles has averaged over $200 million per outing, and I'm inclined to believe that an opening lower than The Last Stand but higher than X2: X-Men United is in order here. This result will almost certainly be followed by dreadful legs for what is apparently a film that is a moderate step up from its predecessor but no X2.
5) Star Trek
Paramount made the call and JJ Abrams came to save the day. I'm speaking in the past tense, because the success of this project is already a certainty. The studio would not have greenlighted a sequel a month before the release of this film without reason. A great bit of box office trivia is that only one Star Trek film has earned more than $100 million (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, if you were wondering). This is a bit misleading since multiple films inflation-adjust north of $200 million, but all Paramount needed with the Star Trek reboot was a solid double. The fact that this is poised to be a $150 million winner with an opening weekend almost as large as the last three Star Trek debuts combined is just gravy. Stating the obvious, franchise reboots are where it's at these days.