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June 2017 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

June 1, 2017

Is Lightning McQueen mooning us?

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In 2017, May was beaten by March, and it wasn't close. And what does June give us? It's a month with too many animated movies, each spaced out two weeks apart from the other (and I'm not even counting the Transformers, who, as it turns out, exist only on a programmer's computer). Two films will lord above the rest, but in the interest of summers to come, let's focus less on sequels and more on finding a breakout hit from the up-and-comers toiling away under the radar.

1. Despicable Me 3 (June 30th)

Yes, the Minions are back. Where were they gonna go, Disneyland?

The Despicable Me franchise, the tale of a very bad man turned nanny to multiple screaming children, first darkened our doors in July 2010, when a vague parody of supervillainy was not yet overwhelmed by all the actual films containing it. Steve Carell's Gru, a frightful-looking man of unclear origin and good heart, is still the nominal star, even if he has clearly had his franchise stolen from him by the numerous pseudo-humanoid yellow critters in his employ. Part 1 grossed $251 million, and was followed by Despicable Me 2, which was the best film of the series, and a Minions spin-off, which was not. Despicable Me 2 almost won summer 2013, with $368 million, but lost to a Marvel comic book film with an actual supervillain, sort of. Four year later, as it turns out, Despicable Me 3 will likely almost win summer 2017, but, as it were, yet again lose to a Marvel film, or, if it is particularly unlucky, lose to two of them (I'm not much into the Despicable films, necessarily, but if I had to root for someone in this fight...).

What's new for the third go-around? Gru must face his evil(er) twin, Kristen Wiig returns as Mrs. Gru, South Park's Trey Parker is another villain, and the film posters depict many of the minions trapped in some incarceratory facility (I have to keep remembering to just say "jail"), leading to all manner of minions-in-prison jokes (will there be a reprise of "It's a hard knock life" from Austin Powers?).

This rather... animated... -looking June schedule probably should have been more carefully thought out (one of the non-Despicable CGI films could have done pretty well on May 19th, switching chairs with Diary of a Wimpy Kid). Me 3's distinctly despicable box office should decrease along the lines of your average three-quel, and its status as the month's biggest earner may turn out to be somewhat in doubt (in that contest, it might get beat by a comic book movie from DC, for a change).

Opening weekend: $114 million / Total gross: $308 million




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2. Wonder Woman (June 2nd)

39 years after Superman launched the superhero genre and 28 years after Batman reminded the world superheroes still exist, DC Comics brings another of its iconic characters to the screen. But in the time since, the cinematic ComicCon convention's gotten a lot more crowded.

Immortal Amazonian Wonder Woman is played by Gal Gadot, who made an impression as the character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and was a lot of fun in some of the better Fast and Furious movies (including my favorite, Fast 6, 2013). Chris Pine is nicely cast as the male lead, a stranded American soldier who helps lure the title character off her remote Greek island paradise and into decimated, World War I-torn Europe (what a nice guy!). Patty Jenkins, whose only other film is the sharp and stupendous Monster (2003), directs, and Gadot's fellow Amazonians are played by Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen, among others.

Wonder Woman's gender (she's female) will be extensively covered in more mainstream media, but the history of female-led comic book films – Helen Slater as Supergirl (1984), Halle Berry as Catwoman (2004), and Jennifer Garner as Elektra (2015) - is relatively limited. So maybe it doesn't tell us all that much. The latter two films starred actresses who were then-established names, but all three movies got bad reviews, and looking at some of their individual circumstances (dissatisfaction with Supergirl's cousin in the then-recently released Superman III, 1983, and with Daredevil, 2003, which was the first film to feature Elektra), maybe gender wasn't much of a factor.

In any case, none of this seems to matter anymore. Like some, I planned to approach the Wonder Woman movie as just one more superhero film in a long and increasingly never-ending release stream of such, and thus immediately lowered my expectations.

But I was wrong. Wonder Woman has so far received absolutely glowing reviews, blowing away even that other highly-praised comic book film of summer 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The forecast numbers you see below are roughly double what I'd written out just a few weeks ago. That is because, as we saw with Baywatch, King Arthur, and any number of other summer entertainments in search of a breakout opening, even in this day and age, reviews do matter. The number at the top of the Rotten Tomatoes page is important, and in this case, that number is really quite high (wobbling between 94% and more). Critical appraisal, word-of-mouth, and buzz should make this film perhaps summer 2017's definitive breakout hit: you will believe DC Comics can fly.

Opening weekend: $100 million / Total gross: $297 million


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