Now that summer has officially begun, so can the summer movie season as well. This summer is set to bring several heavy hitters in terms of box office appeal as well as several films that bring a great deal of fan anticipation. However, among these films only one can win the box office and I intend to break down the summer’s biggest films and speculate which one will likely take the box office by storm.
First up is the latest and final entry in Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story franchise, “Toy Story 4.” This film’s initial announcement was met with a healthy degree of skepticism from fans when taken into account how well received “Toy Story 3” was. Furthermore, the series was considered concluded as the third film had wrapped up the series nicely and had ended on a heartwarming note with Andy growing up and passing his childhood toys onto a new child. At first, the announcement of “Toy Story 4” seemed like an obvious cash grab and a vain attempt to keep the series going; but, over time that sentiment began to change due to cast interviews and overwhelmingly positive early reviews. Currently, the film sits impressively at a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently tracking to open with $260 million global opening weekend. However, this number could easily beat $300 million if the domestic box office overperforms as was the case for Disney with both “Avengers: Endgame” and “Aladdin.” With current box office tracking and the wave of good reviews ahead of its release, “Toy Story 4” is looking to be a heavy hitter at the box office.
The second big release hitting theaters this summer is the final installment in Marvel’s “Phase 4,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” which hits theaters July 2. Following fresh off the heels of “Avengers: Endgame” and its overwhelming success, Spider-Man is looking to capitalize off its successor’s box office haul. Presently, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is tracking to open at over $170 million surpassing “Spider-Man: Homecoming” which opened at $117 million with roughly the same release date. Though it is highly unlikely Spider-Man will receive the same box office treatment that “Endgame” had, it is still likely to capitalize on the films success. This is abundantly obvious from the films marketing campaign that includes trailers that directly address certain spoiler plot points from “Endgame.” Likely attempting to compel general audiences to see the film in order to get the whole story set up in “Avengers: Endgame.” Additionally, Marvel plans on rereleasing “Avengers: Endgame” in theaters with additional footage, likely to boost its own box office numbers in order to beat out “Avatar” as the highest grossing film of all time (“Avatar” holds the record at $2.78 billion with Endgame close behind with $2.74 billion). With Avengers returning to theaters and the minds of general audiences, Spider-Man is likely to benefit from this move as it will only increase public anticipation of the film as a direct followup to Endgame. Furthermore, Spider-Man had a successful year in 2018 as Sony’s “Venom” and “Into the Spiderverse” were both well received by fans and did fairly well at the box office. Additionally, early Twitter reactions from critics who have seen the film have nothing but positive things to say about the wall crawler’s latest outing. Hoping to capitalize on the recent success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sony’s recent Spider-Man films, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is touted to have a big box office run with the potential to blow away expectations.
The third big summer release comes out July 19 and is none other than Disney’s latest live-action adaptation “The Lion King.” This film comes fresh off the heels of Disney’s “Aladdin” which outperformed box office predictions and earned the studio $270 million domestically. To many fans, the original animated “The Lion King” ranks as the best classic Disney animated film causing many to cautiously anticipate this newest adaptation. With a star studded cast lending their talents to the film, such as Beyonce as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba, as well as being directed by “Jungle Book” and “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau, “The Lion King” has the potential to be a truly remarkable film. Furthermore, anticipation for Disney’s latest adaptation has been growing despite many vocal concerns over the necessity of a remake. Current long range box office tracking has “The Lion King” opening anywhere between $180 million to $230 million domestically. This huge opening would beat the previous record for Disney’s live-action remakes (previously being 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” at $174 million). If “The Lion King” manages to match, or more likely surpass, “Beauty and the Beast” at the box office (which took in a total of $1.2 billion), it could easily dominate the summer box office this year. Based on positive reactions from the films recent marketing campaign, coupled with the preexisting love for the original, 2019’s “The Lion King” is undoubtedly going to be Disney’s biggest box office success among its live-action remakes. With all these factors going for it, “The Lion King” will likely earn the most at the box office this summer.
Though “Toy Story 4,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and “The Lion King” are the safest picks for this year’s box office winners, it is worth mentioning other films releasing this summer that will likely steal some weekend earnings from these heavy hitters upon their release. The two films that immediately stand out are the Fast and Furious spinoff, “Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw,” (August 2) and the latest film from writer and director Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood” (July 26). Both films are highly anticipated by fans and each have several good things going for them. “Hobbs and Shaw” is marketing itself as over-the-top action (similar to past entries in the franchise) and riding the audience love for Dwayne Johnson. “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood” recently received overwhelming praise from Cannes Film Festival and audience support for Tarantino will likely see this film succeed. That being said it is unlikely either will rival the three box office heavy hitters this summer.
When it comes down to it, I personally believe that “The Lion King” will take the box office this summer. Current tracking numbers place it scoring a record breaking opening which I expect it to continue with throughout its theatrical run. The talent both in front of and behind the camera gives me confidence that this film will be well received, prompting it to do well in the weeks following its release. Furthermore the box office successes of “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast” prove that despite initial fan hesitation to Disney’s live-action remakes, general audiences still show up in numbers to see these films. Regardless of who actually wins the summer box office, the undisputed winner this year is Disney who is distributing each of this summer’s biggest films.