July, the season of fireworks, holidays and light-hearted blockbusters, is the last shot this summer for a $100 million opening. It also determines whether the box office has a chance to improve on last year’s $3.4 billion total.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (Disney) will be released tomorrow, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” (Paramount) will be released July 12 and “Barbie” (Warner Bros. Discovery) and “Oppenheimer” (Universal) will be released tomorrow July 19th. All should open to at least $50 million; $100 million isn’t entirely unrealistic, but it could be unlikely. All told, the month could account for anywhere from $1 billion to $1.4 billion.
Going in, the hope was a $4 billion summer, an 18% improvement over the 2022 total of just under $3.4 billion. So far, the improvement is 3.5%, on track for $3.5 billion. This is also not guaranteed, although there is hope that August will represent a significant improvement over a very weak 2022.
The June estimate is slightly higher at $1 billion, a four percent increase from last year. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony) contributed about a third of this, followed at some distance by “The Little Mermaid” (Disney) and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” (Paramount), both grossed over $100 million in June. “The Flash” (WBD) and “Elemental” (Disney) will both reach $100 million, but their slow trajectories hurt performance for the month.
“Indiana Jones” Opening Day takings will go into the June ledger, with most of its run in July. At this point, opening projections are no better than $70 million. That would be disappointing: Its production budget is $100 million more than “The Flash,” which opened to a disappointing $55 million.
“Mission: Impossible” should be the best performance of the month, as well as the best long-term bet. However, current tracking places its opening under $100 million. At this point, he may not be challenging “Spider-Verse” for the #1 title of the summer; it’s headed for $400 million domestic.
“Oppenheimer” won’t open to $100 million and “Barbie” is a long shot, but they’re non-franchise titles without clear multi-quadrant appeal; it is more important to consider their long-term prospects.
Both have intense interest, though “Oppenheimer” may be suffering from the same screen-premium syndrome that depressed “Avatar: The Way of Water”‘s initial takings last December. Marketing emphasizes the superiority of the largest possible screens, especially IMAX. This limits seating, as does the three-hour run time.
“Barbie” has a particularly strong female appeal, perhaps a little older. It’s unclear what she will offer to other moviegoers, though her marketing promises that “If you love Barbie, this movie is for you… if you hate Barbie, this movie is for you.” (No word on what it does for those without strong feelings either.)
The assumption is that “Barbie” will have the largest opening which is most likely to exceed $50 million. Both films have budgets of around $100 million, far below ‘Mission: Impossible’ – yet another pegged at around $300 million.
Other big openings include “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” (Universal) tomorrow, “Insidious: The Red Door” (Sony) and “Joy Ride” (Lionsgate) on July 7, then later this month Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” and The A24’s horror title “Talk to Me”, both out July 28.
We imagine reserves will add $225 million to the month’s total; all other new movies, maybe another $75 million. July of last year brought in $1.133 billion, the best month since COVID. There’s a strong possibility that it won’t improve this July, although the potential should be there for at least $1.2 billion. That would be just six percent up from 2022 and up the season to about five percent upfront.
It’s a tall order to hope that top titles and other new releases hit $900 million in July. It’s going to take everything running full steam ahead for that to happen.
With the prospects of production delays due to the WGA and potential strikes from SAG, a summer release schedule that hasn’t lived up to it, and general concern over the viability of comic book movies, there’s a lot at stake. At this point, we know that theaters are critical to achieving success across all platforms; what is at issue is whether the high expense to make and launch these titles makes financial sense.