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Summer movie box office outlook for 2023

Cairns on Cinema - Expect another summer of superheroes including Guardians of the Galaxy and The Flash, as well as Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford and a girl named Barbie
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It looks like another busy summer of movies at your local cinema in 2023.

REGINA - Welcome to my summer movie box office preview for 2023! 

First of all, an apology from me. I was meant to do up the summer movie preview column last week, but I ended up getting swamped. There was the Legislature. Then there was the Coronation. Then on the weekend was “the ‘Riders”, covering a football rally event at Mosaic Stadium.

Then this week, I was on the set covering Zarqa, a CBC Gem series production filming in Regina, aka “Hollywood North”. So I never did get around to doing a box office column in time for the start of this year’s summer blockbuster season, which technically started last weekend.

As a result, not only did I miss out on the start of the summer season, but I have also been delayed in bringing you the biggest entertainment news coming out of Hollywood in a long time, and that is that the writers have walked out on strike. 

Yes, indeed, the Writers Guild of America has gone on strike for the first time in a decade and a half, and folks at home are truly ticked off about it. A lot of observers are expecting this dispute to be a lengthy one. I’ve read stories that this mess could go on into 2024! Yikes.

The most obvious impact is being felt on your favorite late night TV shows hosted by the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert. Those shows are now into reruns, because you cannot hope to do an opening monologue without having your joke writers on the job writing your lines. Or maybe they could try and do what I did in the days when I was hosting TV shows, and just wing it.

Of course, many of you say you gave up on late night TV ever since the previous crop of hosts like Leno, Letterman and Conan all left. Anyhow, look on the bright side: this writer's dispute is going to prevent Jimmy Fallon from cracking any more jokes on TV about "Experience Regina." (Bahahaha! Not funny.)

From what I gather from articles online, one main concern from the writers is about the changes in residuals from TV series — reruns that are increasingly shown not in syndication, but on streaming platforms. As well, there are concerns that staff writing jobs are getting permanently ushered out, to be turned into shorter-term temporary “gig” assignments. 

The impact of this strike the movie industry is twofold. One is that this could seriously delay some new releases in the future that ought to be getting written around now. You won't feel this impact immediately, as the 2023 releases are already in the can, but come 2024 and 2025, Hollywood will face pressure from a lack of product.

As well, the summer releases are losing the sure-fire promotional outlet of late night TV shows, where major stars like Tom Cruise or Margot Robbie can hawk their movies. But there could yet be a mild uptick in the short term, as TV viewers slowly but surely realize there is nothing good on TV to watch and head to the cinema in desperation.

Anyway, looking at the domestic box office schedule for summer 2023, blockbuster season kicked off last week on May 5-7 with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which continues the tradition of a Marvel blockbuster rolling out on that first weekend of May. According to Box Office Mojo it grossed $118,414,021, which was a little higher than I had expected but actually is considered a disappointment to most observers.

Going into last weekend, I had expected this latest Marvel sequel to haul in $305 million this summer, and the way things are going it should end up with a haul somewhere in the mid-$300 million. 

Looking at the calendar for this summer, here is what stands out as potential blockbusters over the coming next several months:

May 19 - Fast X, the tenth instalment of the Fast and Furious franchise.

May 26 - The Little Mermaid, a live-action adaptation of the ‘89 animated Disney movie,

June 2 - Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which is an animated version of the webbed wonder.

June 9 - Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, a return of the successful Transformers franchise

June 16 - The Flash, based on the DC character and starring Ezra Miller in the title role.

June 30 - Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, with Harrison Ford reprising his famous role.

July 7 - Insidious: The Red Door, a horror-thriller.

July 12 - Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One. This is the long awaited, and long delayed, seventh Mission: Impossible movie starring Tom Cruise.

July 21 - Barbie, based on the famous doll featuring Margot Robbie in the title role.

Aug. 4 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Aug. 11 - Gran Turismo.

Based on what I see for the summer, I like the chances of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One to win the summer, with a haul somewhere in the $450 million range. 

Why? Because of two factors: 1. Tom Cruise, and 2. a pent up desire from action fans to see action and stunts at the movies.

As I said, this movie has been in the works a long time, it has been delayed for a while, and that usually spells a big box office. Plus, I saw what happened last year when Cruise starred in Top Gun: Maverick, which was similarly delayed. It not only won the summer; it was a runaway hit. So I feel somewhat confident in predicting Cruise will win the summer again, based solely on precedent -- though you never really know what will happen.

I also think that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has a chance to capitalize on all that Eighties nostalgia and do almost as well as Mission: Impossible. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if it did win the summer. I also like what I’ve heard about The Flash so far, which seems to be getting rave reviews, and of course I see Fast X hauling in the dough again.

There has also been plenty of buzz about the Barbie movie, directed by Greta Gerwig, but honestly, who knows how it will do. It might make a heap of money in its first weekend and then drop right off like a rock.

Anyone else think this Barbie movie is a bad idea? Personally, I instinctively look at this and go, ‘uggh!’ This looks like an exceptionally cheesy movie, the kind of schlocky production you would have expected to see in Saturday morning cartoons back in the old days. 

Good luck getting guys to see this, but quite frankly, even if this had been about "G.I. Joe" I would probably have the same knee-jerk reaction. Where the heck is Hollywood getting their ideas these days — the toy store? (Don’t get me started on the lousy Transformers franchise, either.) 

Maybe Hollywood's writers might want to come up with more inspired ideas, which they'll have plenty of opportunity to do now that they're walking the picket lines. That’s all I have to say about the 2023 summer blockbuster season for now. 

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