Summer movie preview
2016 has quietly broken the rule that movies aren’t supposed to get interesting until the first big tentpole movie release in May. But even though we’re still a week out from the official start of the summer movie season with the release of that one big superhero movie people seem to be buzzing about, Hollywood has already started to give us the goods. We’ve had a superhero movie that a lot of people seemed to love for some reason in “Deadpool;” the real best superhero movie of the year in “Midnight Special;” a critically adored horror movie in “The Witch;” a much better horror movie in “Green Room;” a Terrence Malick movie that sucked in “Knight of Cups;” and a Coen Brothers movie that didn’t in “Hail Caesar.”
Throw in the unsurprising excellence of Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some,” and the box office success and critical acclaim of both “Zootopia” and “The Jungle Book,” and it’s clear that 2016 has packed some serious punch so far.
What does this mean for cinema’s premiere season then? Has 2016 blown its load early, or does the summer still have more to offer?
Let’s find out by projecting how a few key summer releases are going to affect both our wallets and our hearts.
Captain America: Civil War
Is it going to be good?: Almost definitely
How much money is it going to make?: An obscene amount
With “Civil War,” we find the most anticipated film in a long time for the artistically sputtering biggest movie franchise in the business.
Since Marvel entered Phase 2, as they call it, they’ve failed to bring the same consistency to their quality as they have to their bank statements. Despite the surprise success of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” releases like “Thor: The Dark World,” Iron Man 3,” and even “Avengers: Age of Ultron” have failed to garner the same enthusiasm as many of their pre-”Avengers” releases.
The reason for this is clear. Every movie that came before “The Avengers” had a clear-cut purpose. To introduce every character and prepare to bring them together in what Robert Downey Jr. absurdly referred to as the most ambitious movie of all time.
After the payoff, the movies stagnated. There was an overwhelming sense of “what’s the point?” to all of them. Now that the Marvel buddies had all gotten together to save the world, it was taxing to watch them do it again on their own.
But with “Civil War,” they’ve found a new source of conflict by turning them against each other. It’s based on one of the most acclaimed comic book series of all time, and the early buzz seems to suggest it does it justice. Let’s hope so.
Is it going to be good?: Almost definitely not
How much money is it going to make?: More than you want it to
People are really mad about this movie. They’ve been mad since the day it was announced, and unfortunately, Paul Feig and crew gave them a juicy chance to continue being mad by releasing a very, very bad trailer for it (though, to be fair, they would have kept being mad either way).
The sad truth for people fuming online about an all-female “Ghostbusters” remake: you’re probably the ones propping this thing up to be a hit.
Let’s face it. If it weren’t for the hoards of complaints raining down with the release of every poster, clip, or trailer, a lot of that stuff might have fallen through the cracks. Reboots are losing steam fast, and the movie audience can’t care about “Ghostbusters” that much in 2016.
But through all of the outrage, it has now become a political cause to support what looks like a pretty lazy rehash of a 30 year old Dan Aykroyd movie.
Now, I’m not mad about this remake, so I don’t really care. I can’t get with the “don’t ruin my childhood” crowd. It’s a remake of a movie you saw in a theater when you were a kid. That movie still exists, and this one will give you a chance to show your kids the original.
Is it going to be good?: Almost probably
How much money is it going to make?: A lot more than it cost to make
You’re probably having one of two reactions right now: “I can’t believe they’re making another one of those Purge movies” or “That’s so annoying that they’re making another one of those Purge movies.”
Well, get used to saying that to yourself once every year for the rest of your life because the purge is coming this year, and it’s going to keep coming for a long time.
Even though “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy” failed to fully maximize their potential as movies, they both made a lot of money on super small budgets. While the first film really stunk up the place — wasting Ethan Hawke, a crime punishable by death — “The Purge: Anarchy” was secretly kind of good. The concept of the purge is still too expansive and complicated and, let’s face it, convoluted to make a compelling 2 hours about it, but “Anarchy” had some transcendent moments.
Now, “Election Year” doesn’t have the luxury of featuring Michael K. Williams, who seems to carry transcendence around with him in a knapsack, but it does sport a premise that blends the political scope of “Anarchy” with the focus of “The Purge.” It could be good, but either way, it will be a hit.
Is it going to be good?: Haha
How much money it is going to make?: Maybe none
I urge you to take this prediction with a grain of salt, because I was so confident that the first in this series would be a flop. I was wrong, and it made about $500 million.
But, everyone on Planet Earth hated it. Its Cinemascore — a poll of viewer satisfaction taken immediately after seeing a movie — came in at a B. While that doesn’t sound too bad, it’s the same score that “Man of Steel 2: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice: Part 1: Attack of the Clones” got, as well as the most recent Divergent movie, which you didn’t even know was released yet.
All of that is to say that people aren’t interested in a second tango with the ninja turtles. Even kids who were too young to realize that the movie just wasn’t good must have been terrified by those godforsaken turtles. They were massive, hulking, CGI atrocities, and no child craves another year of sewer and pizza filled nightmares.
In 2014, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” earnings at the box office dropped a whopping 56.5 percent between its first two weekends. Word of mouth couldn’t kill the first movie, but the 2 years since hopefully gave it time to kill this one.
Is it going to be good?: Almost probably not
How much money is it going to make?: Closer to “Green Zone” than “The Martian”
Everyone is giving this movie the benefit of the doubt due to the success of the original trilogy, as well as the reunion of the series’ main talent in Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass.
That’s a nice way to look at the world, and I won’t be surprised if the movie satisfies passionate fans of the Bourne movies. I will be pretty surprised if it does much for anyone else though.
I’m just not sure people care anymore. And it’s not just that audiences have pulled a Jason Bourne and forgotten who he is. It’s that I don’t see a reason people would be starved for a new Bourne movie because, really, they’ve been getting them regularly even in the true Bourne’s absence. And I’m not talking “The Bourne Legacy” here: every action movie is a Bourne movie now. “Skyfall” was the dopest Bourne movie to ever star a guy named James Bond.
You see the trailer for the fifth installment is the real deal, and it just looks like another imitation, because that’s what people are used to seeing. The things that made Bourne unique are now the norm.
The unfortunate consequence of massively changing the action movie genre is that if you choose to take a break, others will fill your shoes.
Is it going to be good?: It’s a movie based on an iPhone app
How much money is it going to make?: Maybe 1% of what the app made
Google it for yourself, because I don’t want you to go through this whole section thinking I’m pranking you. There is really going to be an official movie adaptation of the iPhone app Angry Birds in the year of our lord 2016.
The first line of the description of this movie is “Find out why the birds are so angry.” I would love to tell you more about why the birds are angry, or what this movie is about, but I watched the trailer on repeat until my eyes bled and I still have no idea.
It seems as though this isn’t a tangential story taking place within the Angry Birds universe, but the story of why birds are being launched at pigs’ houses, or whatever it is that happens in Angry Birds.
That’s exactly the problem right there. I don’t remember what happened in Angry Birds, because no one has played Angry Birds in five years. The 8 year old kids who bought Angry Birds plushies at Wal-mart are now 13, angsty, and already bought their advance tickets for “Suicide Squad.”
There’s no audience for an Angry Birds movie, except for me, because oh my god I have to see how they make 90 minutes worth of a movie about the worst iPhone game of all time.