By Michael Lynderey
May 5, 2017
Among the new cast are Kaya Scodelario, from the Maze Runner films, and a nice young actor named Brenton Thwaites, who was the lead in the underrated and underseen The Giver (2014) and Gods of Egypt (2016), and also that thriller The Signal, which I’ll use the chance to remind myself again that I still need to see. He plays the grown son of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom’s characters, which must mean that Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow is roughly 20 years older than he was at the end of At World’s End, even if it doesn’t quite show (sea air is actually very good for you).
Pirates took over 2007’s big Memorial Day weekend, and the crew has returned to reclaim the same tentpole, if we’ll have them. Whoever wins the weekend aside, Pirates 5 might just dip under a $200 million total domestically, though I’m sure on foreign seas it should sail quite robustly all throughout the summer. If Americans really are tired of sequels, there’s even a fringe and unlikely scenario where this entry finishes under $100 million, though it’s absolutely guaranteed that it’ll still outgross The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 5.
Opening weekend: $63 million (4-day) / Total gross: $145 million
4. Alien: Covenant (May 19th)
Depending on how you count, Covenant is the eighth film depicting the long-running misadventures of the malnourished chest-busters from another planet. A prequel, it is set to excite franchise loyalists for one particular reason: it is directed by Ridley Scott, who went from commercials and the western The Duellists to break out as a serious filmmaker with the 1979 original, and whose direction was succeeded, among others, by James Cameron for Aliens (1986) and David Fincher for Alien 3 (1992).
Coming off one of his biggest hits, The Martian, Scott returns to the well again, 38 years after he launched both a franchise and a sub-genre, inspiring any number of films about largely working class teams of space travelers/soldiers/mercenaries who get munched on by aliens/monsters/hungry dogs in a closed-off location, until only the female lead has survived, with maybe a solitary male, along the lines of Noah’s ark.
Scott’s 2012 semi-prequel Prometheus mixed high-priced sci-fi theorizing with bits and pieces of alien creature action, including a successful (!) and improvised self-surgery to remove a ready-to-pop alien. This time around, Prometheus’ Michael Fassbender plays one of the series’ trademark cyborgs, and new cast members include Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride (I assume the last two will not return for a sequel, except in flashbacks, if you know what I mean). In most ways, the series is back to basics: unsuspecting scientists will walk into darkened rooms, alien monsters will lurch hungrily from both inside and out, and new information about the creatures’ origin may be revealed (are those things really that mysterious? I assumed what you see is what you get).
If we don’t count the more vaguely connected Prometheus (which opened with $51 million and finished with $126m), then Alien: Covenant has a decent chance at becoming the series’ first film to officially, finally, without any adjustment of numbers, cross the $100 million mark (Aliens came nearest, at $85 million). If Scott has done something new and exciting with his original concept, he will be given thanks at the box office. If he has at the very least crafted an entertaining and memorable action and gore film, it may be even more successful. These days, fan service is rewarded loyally and handsomely.
Opening weekend: $45 million / Total gross: $117 million
5. Snatched (May 12th)
Snatched (lord, please say that title isn’t a pun) conjoins Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer as mother and daughter (in that order?), and places them into an R-rated road comedy slotted in between the month’s more obvious blockbusters. The presence of the always topical and often controversial Schumer may excite some of my co-generationists, but the main event in Snatched is the comeback of one of my all-time favorite actresses, Hawn, in her first film role since 2002’s entertaining The Banger Sisters, and the second since 2001’s Town & Country, which has gained some fame for many wrong reasons. Goldie, who is very funny and quite likeable, was one of the top female box office stars of the 1980s, with a legendary set of credits from Cactus Flower (1969) to Private Benjamin (1980) and the amusing Overboard (1987), though she has chosen to sit out most of the 21st century, so far.