After Summer 2012 got off to an incredible start with The Avengers, business slowed down substantially in the last two weeks of May, and it now looks like it's up to June's releases to once again kick-start the box office. The highest-grossing June on record occurred in 2009 ($1.086 billion), and with five weekends of new movies on deck, there's definitely a chance that June 2012 winds up exceeding that mark. While there's only one guaranteed box office hit (Pixar's Brave), four other titles have a strong shot at reaching $100 million—Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Rock of Ages. Add in R-rated comedies That's My Boy and Ted, and June 2012 is shaping up to be a strong month.
This article will take a look at the first three weekends in June; sometime next week, Part 2 will address the crowded final two weekends.
June 1 - 'Snow White and the Huntsman'
A few months ago, Snow White and the Huntsman looked like it had a few problems: it was scheduled for release on the dreaded first weekend of June, it was the second Snow White movie in a three-month period of time, and it was a Lord of the Rings-style fantasy epic with the name "Snow White" in the title. The first two issues have been largely resolved, though. The movie is coming out after two slow weekends at the North American box office, which means its release isn't being drowned out by May holdovers. Also, rival Snow White movie Mirror Mirror has only made $62.4 million, and it turned out to have such a different tone that it didn't cause Huntsman ads to have a "been there, done that" feeling.
The final problem, though, is still unresolved: will young men turn out to see a movie with Snow White in the title? To lure these viewers, commercials present dark, revisionist angles of the classic Snow White story, and often end with the tagline "This is No Fairy Tale." Even if this doesn't work, though, Snow White and the Huntsman is destined for solid business thanks to the allure of its attractive cast (Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron) and the fortuitous nature of its scheduling gambit.
Mexican historical drama For Greater Glory is also getting a light nationwide release (700+ locations) on the first weekend of June, and it's received enough of a push that it could crack the Top 10. Still, based on past Mexican-skewing releases (most of which are from Lionsgate/Pantelion), there's little chance the movie winds up closing with even $10 million.
June 8 - 'Prometheus' Vs. 'Madagascar 3'
The second weekend of June brings with it one of the most anticipated movies of the Summer, and also the latest Ridley Scott movie. Of course, that's a (bad) joke—it's Prometheus, Mr. Scott's return to sci-fi after a 30-year absence, that assumed the mantle of "most-anticipated non-sequel for Summer 2012" among fanboys and bloggers when its stunning teaser trailer hit theaters in December. Because it's so anticipated within these niche groups, though, it's widely assumed that the movie is going to be a major blockbuster, and this echo chamber effect has blown some domestic forecasts for Prometheus up over $200 million. Despite the pedigree and the head-turning campaign, though, it is still an R-rated sci-fi movie with no major stars (from a box office perspective) in its cast, so it's hard to imagine the movie joining the elite class of R-rated action movies to reach the $200 million mark. That being said, the movie has generated really strong buzz, and after more transparently cynical would-be blockbusters Battleship and MIB 3, audiences do seem primed for something different.
DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted also opens the second weekend of June, and it's Summer 2012's first movie targeted exclusively at families. The first two Madagascar movies earned $193.6 million and $180 million, respectively, and that would appear to be a good target for Madagascar 3. Whether it's due to a tightening of family budgets or a growing disdain for sequels, though, animated follow-ups have been getting slaughtered at the domestic box office lately. Just last Summer, for example, DreamWorks' own Kung Fu Panda 2 fell 23 percent from its widely-liked predecessor. Paramount's marketing for Madagascar 3 attempts to differentiate the movie by showing the characters in funny circus wigs (the tagline is "Wig Out"), but that just doesn't seem like enough to combat the sequel malaise, and a similarly steep decline is likely in order.
June 15 - 'That's My Boy' Vs. 'Rock of Ages'
Father's Day Weekend is shaping up to be a great time for a family outing to the movies, albeit one where the men and women wind up in separate theaters.
With 12 $100 million movies since 1998, Adam Sandler is easily one of the most bankable actors working today. Sandler originally built his fanbase by playing man-children in Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy and Big Daddy, though as he's grown older his characters have been forced to mature a bit. For That's My Boy, Sandler seems to have found a way around this by portraying an absentee father who wreaks havoc upon his estranged son's wedding (a sort-of brilliant tie-in to Father's Day). Sporting a funny voice and a low IQ, the character is firmly within Sandler's wheelhouse—unfortunately, the movie is also rated R, which will turn away a lot of Sandler's current younger fans. It's not Summer if there aren't a handful of R-rated hits, though, and with The Dictator missing the mark That's My Boy has a great opportunity to fill the void with adult audiences (that is, until Ted comes along two weeks later).
With plenty of noisy, effects-filled blockbusters and crude R-rated comedies monopolizing male attention, Summer has proven to be fertile ground for female-targeted musicals—Hairspray earned $118.9 million in 2007, while Mamma Mia! grossed an even-better $144.1 million in 2008. This year's Rock of Ages shares a director with Hairspray (Adam Shankman) and may have the strongest cast out of these movies thanks to Tom Cruise's role as fictional rock star Stacey Jaxx. The opportunity to see Cruise belt out 80s-era rock tunes should be too good to pass up—that is, as long as audiences even know Cruise is in the movie. The character's long hair obscures the actor's signature mug in commercials and posters, and his name isn't included anywhere in the latest round of commercials (it's barely legible on posters). There's still two weeks to go before release, though, and even without an emphasis on Cruise this movie should perform well.