2013 is going to be a big year at the box office. There are sequels galore, plus a few new treats to sink our teeth into. Behold, a breakdown of top 50 films of 2013, ranked according to domestic box office!
50. "Oldboy" (Oct. 11)
Have you seen the Korean version of this one? It's quite a tough watch. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It's probably just too violent to attract a broad American audience, and that's really saying something. Still, if anyone can translate it, Spike Lee is the guy, so a $12 million opening might be on the table.
Total Box Office: $35 million
49. "Gangster Squad" (Jan. 11)
On the plus side, everyone is in this movie. Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, and Emma Stone all make appearances. The bad news? It was pushed back from a September release date, ostensibly because of the Aurora shootings. Call me crazy, but it doesn't seem like the general public is hungry for uber-violence here in January either. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The record for a January opening is held by "Cloverfield", but I'd say this is looking at about three-quarters of "Contraband" and an opening in the low teens.
Total Box Office: $40 million
48. "Warm Bodies" (Feb. 1)
In terms of promotion, it only has John Malkovich to get out there and do the interviews. It's also not part of a franchise, another marketing ding. Still, it is a zombie film, so it merits some consideration. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "Zombieland" also opened in another slow month (October) but that had Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg. This will be lucky to hit $15 million on its opening weekend.
Total Box Office: $41 million
47. "Safe Haven" (Feb. 14)
It's another Nicholas Sparks project, so the demographic is locked in. Sadly, I'm not sure Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel are box-office draws just yet. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "The Lucky One" meets "The Last Song". I award it a $16 million dollar opening.
Total Box Office: $43 million
46. "Movie 43" (Jan. 25)
A rare January comedy (no, we don't count "Paul Blart"), this one features more stars than you could shake a stick at. The trailers look very R-rated, so it's basically without precedent, as most comedies stick to a safer PG-13 rating at the beginning of the year. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It resembles "Smoking Aces," in terms of adult content, and nothing else in terms of comedy. I'd say a baker's dozen ($13 million) is a noble goal for this little outlier, but it has a lot of upside given the cast.
Total Box Office: $45 million
45. "Tyler Perry's: A Madea Christmas" (Dec. 13)
The same thing that's true about "Paranormal Activity" is true for Tyler Perry films as well. He makes efficient cinema that makes money. Every time. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Nearly all of the Tyler Perry films open at $25 million, and this one should be no different.
Total Box Office: $50 million
44. "The Host" (Mar. 29)
If it weren't for the name "Stephenie Meyer" we wouldn't even be considering this title. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The issue is that Meyer's book was adapted by Andrew Niccol, he's been on a cold streak ("In Time," "Lord of War"). I don't think the "Twilight" crowd will come out for this, and so an opening weekend in the teens is the most likely scenario.
Total Box Office: $52 million
43. "Runner Runner" (Sep. 27)
If I gave you a script where Ben Affleck was mentoring Justin Timberlake you'd immediately put that into production. That's what Fox figured too. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "Boiler Room!" Sadly, that made almost no dollars, and so the outlook isn't all that good. $20 million is as high as I can go; JT hasn't shown any ability to open a film as of yet.
Total Box Office: $55 million
42. "Kick-Ass 2" (Jun. 28)
The original was a slightly surprising winner, with $96 million earned on a $30 million production budget. Sequel time! Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: They've lost Nic Cage and director Matthew Vaughn, replacing them with Jim Carrey and lesser-known director Jeff Wadlow. I'm guessing those changes won't add up, this one will open at around $17 million.
Total Box Office: $60 million
41. "The Heat" (Apr. 5)
A former comedic darling, Sandra Bullock, pairs with a current comedic darling in Melissa McCarthy. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It looks for all the world like "Miss Congeniality" meets "48 Hours". I can't see this hitting even a $30 million opening number, even though it faces no competition in early April.
Total Box Office: $62 million
40. "2 Guns" (Aug. 16)
This film features Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington in a crime actioner. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It's got a little bit of "Flight" going on. One potential hiccup is director Baltasar Kormakur. He directed "Contraband," and "Contraband" was horrible. Still, the middle of August doesn't offer much in the way of competition, so they could very easily hit $25 million if luck and marketing are on their side.
Total Box Office: $64 million
39. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" (Apr. 1)
Eight years later, we've finally got our "Sin City" sequel. The best news of all? Jessica Alba was available! Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The original Robert Rodriguez film scared up $29 million in April of 2005. However, I think people have moved on, and April is a much stronger month than October, so I like something closer to $22 million here.
Total Box Office: $65 million
38. "Beautiful Creatures" (Feb. 13)
There's some buzz around this one, and this week it was up 392 spots on IMDB's "MOVIEmeter". It's also a huge young adult novel, just like "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight". Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: February is a much more receptive month at the box office. "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (worst title ever) cleared $30 million, so a $25 million opening here seems doable provided they market the tarnation out of it.
Total Box Office: $67 million
37. "Paranormal Activity 5" (Oct. 25)
This series prints money, the last one cleared $140 million on a $5 million production budget. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The opening numbers are headed downward for the series, but $25 million is a near certainty.
Total Box Office: $70 million
36. "Riddick" (Sep. 6)
Between "Riddick" and "Fast and Furious," Vin Diesel should be plenty busy for the next five years. If they ever get that "xXx: The Return of Xander Cage" reboot going he'll have the rare trifecta in play. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "The Chronicles of Riddick" feels like the easiest comparable, though the magic is likely gone after nine years. Luckily, it's opening all by its lonesome, and it should be rewarded with a number above $20 million.
Total Box Office: $71 million
35. "Olympus Has Fallen" (Mar. 22)
Gerard Butler struck out in romantic comedies, so he's back in a thriller as a Secret Service agent. Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart will be prominently involved as well. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It has a terrible title, which is definitely going to cost it money. If you're looking for comparable I suppose some amalgamation of "In the Line of Fire" and "Independence Day" will have to suffice.
Total Box Office: $72 million
34. "Red 2" (Aug. 2)
The original "Red" was a surprise October hit, so Summit Entertainment figured they'd roll the dice one more time. You can't keep a good Bruce Willis down. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: This is the rare film that probably won't be helped all that much by the original's marketing; so I think $22 million opening is a nice goal.
Total Box Office: $75 million
33. "Pacific Rim" (Jul. 12)
Giant monsters are found in the Pacific! Spoiler alert: they aren't friendly. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "Battleship" meets "Voltron" meets "Transformers". The only reason for hope here is director Guillermo del Toro, but we said that about Peter Berg too.
Total Box Office: $78 million
32. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" (Aug. 16)
Now that Logan Lerman is now kind of a big deal, thanks to "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," you'd have to think the "Percy Jackson" sequel has a fighting chance. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The first "Percy Jackson" couldn't even manage a profit in theaters, though perhaps it recouped its losses on home video. This version could open above $30 million, especially given the lack of family dollar competition.
Total Box Office: $80 million
31. "Admission" (Mar. 8)
Tina Fey and Paul Rudd in a comedy directed by Paul Weitz ("About a Boy"). I'm already a fan of this one, though I expect it to be wildly underrated. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: In terms of comedic power, I'll go with "Blades of Glory". Clearly that's inexact, but anything above a $30 million opening will leave Focus Features popping the champagne.
Total Box Office: $85 million
30. "Captain Phillips" (Oct. 11)
This is an early Best Picture contender; it's the dramatization of the Somali pirate hostage situation from 2009. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Weirdly, probably "Zero Dark Thirty". But there's no chance it will have the same box-office draw, especially not in October. Anything nearing a $15 million opening once it gets wide will probably get the ball rolling on Academy momentum.
Total Box Office: $87 million
29. "World War Z" (Jun. 21)
They spent a small fortune on production … and then delayed the film's opening for over a year. This is looking like a big ol' financial disaster. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "Contagion" springs to mind, though they are clearly hoping for an opening closer to "War of the Worlds".
Total Box Office: $88 million
28. "The Internship" (Jun. 7)
Do you need to know anything more than Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, and John Goodman? Okay, then I'll enter Owen Wilson as evidence. The synopsis looks ripe for laughs, two 40-year-olds trying to make it as interns in a tech company. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: A smidgeon of "Step Brothers," mixed with a dash of "Wedding Crashers". The normal $30 million opening looks assured.
Total Box Office: $95 million
27. "Paranoia" (Aug. 2)
Liam Hemsworth might bring in a younger audience, and Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford definitely will attract an older demographic. The story is fairly typical, your standard corporate espionage deal. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "The Firm" for the win. This one is up against "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" which should leave no winners in the equation.
Total Box Office: $98 million
26. "300: Rise of An Empire" (Aug. 2)
This is the prequel that covers the backstory of Xerxes, the baddie from the original "300," plus other assorted naval battles. Newish director Noam Murro has precisely one movie under his belt, and that was a comedy ("Smart People"). Yikes. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Were people clamoring for a new "300"? And will the lack of star power hurt the box-office draw? Enough of the questions, let's just say this pulls in about $35 million in a very tough month (the record for August is $69 million, "The Bourne Ultimatum").
Total Box Office: $100 million
25. "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (Mar. 15)
Steve Carrell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey in a "Vegas magician" comedy? Could work, but the recent box-office history of live action Jim Carrey is dismal. His last $100 million earner was "Fun with Dick and Jane" in 2005. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: I'm certain New Line is hoping for something better than "The Great Buck Howard" which made less than a million dollars worldwide. The most successful March comedy in this demographic was "Wild Hogs," it opened near $40 million.
Total Box Office: $102 million
24. "The Great Gatsby" (May 10)
The reason for concern around "Gatsby" is that it was pushed from a prime Oscar release date (Christmas) to the "big spectacle" region of May. Do they even know the type of film they made? When did it change? They finished filming in 2011, so this would be a staggering 17 months later. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It's a very strong outlier for May, as modern classic book adaptations are almost never undertaken in the summer. At a budget of $125 million this could be the flop of the year if it doesn't open over $50 million, and I don't see how it possibly could.
Total Box Office: $110 million
23. "This is the End" (Jun. 14)
How is this not a Jim Morrison documentary? Moving on, this action comedy has Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill as leads in a post-apocalyptic world. Seems reasonable. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Comedies tend not to open huge in June (or ever) but "Ted" taking in $54 million has to give them some hope.
Total Box Office: $120 million
22. "Anchorman: The Legend Continues" (Dec. 20)
I'm Ron Burgundy? Oh how we've missed you, Ron. Welcome back. The first one cleared $90 million on a paltry $26 million dollar production budget, but this one will cost a bit more now that Steve Carell is a big star. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "Meet the Fockers" holds the December comedy record at $46 million. I'm calling for "Anchorman: The Legend Continues" to break that record, if only because we've all watched it on cable too many times.
Total Box Office: $125 million
21. "Pain and Gain" (Apr. 26)
Michael Bay's new movie, featuring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, the subject matter seems to involve steroid-using criminals. Slam dunk, no? Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It certainly can't be compared to anything nearing "Transformers" but "Fast and Furious" isn't out of reach. Plus, Michael Bay made it for a reported $22 million, so it seems certain to make a profit at the box office.
Total Box Office: $127 million
20. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (Mar. 29)
Another film that was pushed from June of 2012 to March of 2013, that's rarely the recipe for success. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: If it continues the mediocrity of "G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" they are in trouble, that one only scored a 5.7 from a very forgiving IMDB crowd. I'm betting it can't be that bad, and it has the weekend all to itself, (in terms of young males) so something above a $50 million opening looks probable.
Total Box Office: $130 million
19. "Lone Ranger" (Jul. 3)
Did they really spend a staggering $250 million on this film? Can they ask for a refund? Johnny Depp as Tonto, Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. Good luck with all that. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: We're sort of grasping at straws, as films of this scope are rarely even attempted, but would "Cowboys vs. Aliens" be close? If so, they are going to take a financial bath here.
Total Box Office: $145 million
18. "Ender's Game" (Nov. 1)
The clever 1985 science fiction novel finally gets a shot at the big screen; this was "The Hunger Games" before "The Hunger Games" existed. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: November is the month that launched "Harry Potter" and "Twilight", so the upside is there. I love the potential, but it's difficult to predict anything higher than $50 million without any prior marketing credibility.
Total Box Office: $150 million
17. "A Good Day to Die Hard" (Feb. 14)
You may have heard of this series, it stars Bruce Willis. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "Live Free or Die Hard" comes to mind, though that one received a summer release date. Nevertheless, I think the demand is there. $40 million for John McClane!
Total Box Office: $155 million
16. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" (Sep. 27)
The original didn't exactly tear up the box office, but this is another case of a studio (Sony) looking to take advantage of their recent marketing efforts in 2009. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The strength of "Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs" was how well it held after the opening weekend, which usually indicates folks liked the movie. So there could be pent-up demand, signaling a $40 million plus opening weekend.
Total Box Office: $160 million
15. "Jack the Giant Slayer" (Mar. 1)
The trailers are quite strong, and March is becoming a fertile ground for big box-office results. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: "Wrath of the Titans?" Now, we're unlikely to see a film that terrible again, so we've got to significantly bump the box office up to $50 million or so.
Total Box Office: $162 million
14. "The Smurfs 2" (Jul. 31)
Against all odds, the first one wasn't that bad. Plus, Sony made $563 million worldwide on a budget of $110 million, based on those numbers, a sequel was all but guaranteed. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: It enters the arena a month after "Despicable Me 2" - and then there's nothing in the way for a month. As such, a $50 million opening looks like it could happen.
Total Box Office: $165 million
13. "Grown Ups 2" (Jul. 12)
A simple recipe: Adam Sandler and friends bring in PG-13 money. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The first one opened at $40 million, so they'll shoot for $50 million here.
Total Box Office: $170 million
12. "Man of Steel" (Jun. 14)
"Superman Returns" sent this franchise into a tailspin, and it's taken them six years to reboot (once again). Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Zack Snyder's involvement is worrisome, especially because he followed up "300" with "Watchmen" and "Sucker Punch" ("Legend of the Guardians" wasn't aimed at the same demo). $50 million will be the opening number; audiences will wait for the word-of-mouth to come in on this title.
Total Box Office: $175 million
11. "The Wolverine" (Jul. 26)
They replaced Darren Aronofsky with James Mangold, and that doesn't feel like an upgrade. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: In 2009 "Wolverine" opened at $85 million, but I think the general public has soured a bit on this franchise. $70 million looks to be optimistic.
Total Box Office: $180 million
10. "Oz the Great and Powerful" (Mar. 8)
A prequel to the iconic "Wizard of Oz," because, sure, why not? James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams give the film some measure of credibility. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The 2010 version of "Alice in Wonderland". That film opened at an impressive $116 million, so I would think anything over $80 million will work for the great and powerful Disney Machine.
Total Box Office: $205 million
9. "Thor: The Dark World" (Nov. 8)
$65 million was the opening number for "Thor," but "The Avengers" had to have helped, right? Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Everyone has cleared out of "Thor: The Dark World"'s way, leaving it an easy November victor. I think $76 million will be the number.
Total Box Office: $225 million
8. "Fast and Furious 6" (May 24)
The last version made $626 million on a production budget of $125 million. That is playing with power, and you can expect as many "Fast and Furious" films as you can handle, at least until those results diminish. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Pretty easy lay-up here, the fifth film in the franchise opened at $86 million, the biggest opening of the series. One potential problem looms though, and that problem is called "The Hangover Part III," opening on the exact same day.
Total Box Office: $235 million
7. "The Hobbit: The Desolation on Smaug" (Dec. 13)
The first one is still going strong, though it's fading faster than any of the previous "Lord of the Rings" films. This one will be the continuing story of Bilbo and his never-ending quest. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: I don't think it can top "The Hobbit" in terms of anticipation, so I see a rare sequel backslide to $75 million.
Total Box Office: $245 million
6. "Despicable Me 2" (Jul. 3)
They made the first one on the cheap for an animation ($69 million) and it made eight times that amount. The sequel will be huge. Plus, it's against a potential tomato can in "Lone Ranger". Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: Well, the first one, clearly. With that sequel bump they have to expect $75 million on the opening weekend.
Total Box Office: $275 million
5. "The Hangover Part III" (May 24)
The second film of the "Hangover" series earned more than the original - a clear case of the sequel bonus if ever there was one. Unfortunately, this "Hangover III" version faces the dilemma of actually having to be a good movie. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: My working theory is they will be punished for "The Hangover II"'s shoddiness, so I'm looking at a $75 million opening. If the movie is good, it will do very well in its follow-up weekend.
Total Box Office: $285 million
4. "Star Trek Into Darkness" (May 8)
As well received as it was, the first J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" probably wasn't a big box-office earner, given the 2.5x multiplier that's needed (over production budget) to account for theater/studio splits, distribution, and marketing. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: They will need to leverage the goodwill they've built up to hit a $90 million dollar opening weekend. Luckily, they have May 17th all to themselves, but "Fast & Furious 6" opens a week later.
Total Box Office: $315 million
3. "Iron Man 3" (May 3)
Can the "Iron Man" franchise keep it going, even after the massive spectacle of "The Avengers"? Are there stories left to tell? Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The untold story of "Iron Man 2" was that it made less domestically than the first film (but more internationally). That sort of trend usually indicates a downward trajectory, but let's not kid ourselves, this one is opening north of $110 million, even if it's a disappointment.
Total Box Office: $350 million
2. "Monsters University" (Jun. 21)
The highly anticipated prequel to "Monsters Inc.," this should be a return to form for Pixar. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: A sequel bump is assured, and fellow weekender "World War Z" offers no competition for the family dollar. I choose $80 million for the opening number, with excellent holdover potential.
Total Box Office: $400 million
1. "Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire" (Nov. 22)
This is Lionsgate's most precious possession, and they've got to be thrilled to have Jennifer Lawrence locked up through 2015. Box-Office Film it Most Resembles: The original, naturally. But there's no way it's going to top "The Hunger Games" $152 million opening, so $135 million is a decent call.
Total Box Office: $450 million
So that's it, our prediction is "Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire" will be the big success story of 2013!