Monday, May 1, 2017


May is here, and you know what that means?  The summer movie season has officially started!  And what better way to celebrate than a friendly competition.  So I present to you all the first annual Merc With A Movie Blog Summer Film Challenge!

I first came across this game while listening to a great film podcast called Feelin' Film (check it out if you haven't).  They started their Summer Movie Challenge last year and just recently released this year's edition.  They apparently got the idea from SlashFilm's Summer Movie Wager, who, in turn, got theirs from TimeTravelReview's Summer Movie Pool.

So I decided we should give it a shot and got together with our Assistant Editor Ryan McKenna, and former Merc writer and new Editor-in-Chief over at, Jonathan Youngblood, to make this happen.  So, without further ado, let's get into the rules of the game!

Each participant will pick out what they believe will be the Top 10 domestic grossing films of the Summer.  "Summer" in this case will be from May 1st all the way up through Labor Day.  Only films released during that time frame are eligible and only the box office results between those dates will count.  We will also each choose three "dark horse" picks, films we think have the possibility of hitting the Top 10.

The scoring will be as such, with the first and last picks being weighted the heaviest.  Scores will be tabulated to give the single highest point value for each players pick.

#1 & #10 - 13 points
#2 - #9 - 10 points
If a pick is only one spot away - 7 points
Two spots away - 5 points
Anywhere in Top 10 - 3 points
If a Dark Horse pick makes it in Top 10 - 1 point

Alright, so with that out of the way, LET'S GET READY TO RUUUUUUUMMMMMMBBLLLLEEEEE!!!

The Merc's Dark Horse Picks:

THE MUMMY - The Mummy is one of those films that could go either way, but with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe starring, it'd be no shock that, as long as it's not complete garbage, this could creep it's way into the top.

THE EMOJI MOVIE - The Emoji Movie is one of a few animated films coming out this summer, and since it's not a known property (not really, anyways), it may have a tougher time hitting the heights of Despicable Me 3 or Cars 3.  However, you can never count out an animated film.

BAYWATCH - Baywatch has the potential to be decently big, especially if it's actually good.  And if it's in the vein of the Jump Street films, and is even close to being as good, I have no doubt that this film could rake in $125-$150 million domestically.

Jonathan's Dark Horse Picks:

THE MUMMY - The MonsterVerse is in full swing. In the end, I think the star power of Tom Cruise and the desire of people to see a scary popcorn flick will catapult The Mummy to a moderate level of success. However, after asking people around me whether or not they even know that this movie is coming out, it seems to me that the marketing campaign for this June release is already failing miserably.

THE DARK TOWER - The Dark Tower has been in production hell for as long as I can remember. Stephen King is a ground-breaking author with a loyal following. This is a massively-beloved franchise among adults. I can see this surviving and growing based on good word of mouth and the brutal cinematic wasteland that is August 2017.

BAYWATCH - The Rock demonstrated last year with Central Intelligence that he is a desirable property. Even when he is teamed up with Kevin Hart, he somehow is able to turn fairly standard comedic properties into Box Office gold. However, Baywatch is rated R. Last year, the highest-earning R-rated movie was Bad Moms, which also came in at #11. Baywatch will be this year’s Bad Moms.

Ryan's Dark Horse Picks:

DUNKIRK - New Christopher Nolan prestige picture, what’s not to love? Dunkirk looks like an excellent film and Nolan is good at making money. This is a war film that isn’t rated R and could easily make enough to creep into the top 10. It does still look like more of an Oscar picture than a summer movie and, in that way, will likely not make the cut.
ROUGH NIGHT - Female comedies have done well in recent years and Rough Night could be this year’s big one. The trailer looked very funny and Scarlett Johansson still has star power despite the Ghost in the Shell debacle. Could be this year’s Bad Moms and come out of nowhere.
ALIEN: COVENANT - Alien: Covenant is probably the riskiest franchise picture in terms of making big money. The marketing for this has all been solid and this looks like a good genre film. It comes at a competitive time in the summer and thus might just sneak into the top 10.


The Merc - DUNKIRK

War films aren't usually the biggest films of the year, but with Christopher Nolan behind the wheel of Dunkirk, it seems to have garnered quite a bit more interest than normal, landing on many people's most anticipated lists for the year.  And as long as Nolan continues his streak of making quality films, I believe it could take that coveted tenth spot.


I am not excited for this movie. However, there are a bunch of movies on my Projected Top 10 List that I am not excited to see at all. People, no matter what, will see bad movies. The Emoji Movie looks like a very bad movie. However, from its July 28th release date until the end of Summer Movie Season, it has NO competition in the very important kids’ movie demographic. Therefore, based on the relatively high-dollar amount of tickets sold in August of last year, I dedicate the bottom two spots of my Top 10 to two late July releases that I think might have some serious pull with audiences.

Tom Cruise is still a movie star and The Mummy has a real shot of sneaking into the top 10. This looks like a big, bombastic action movie with big money making potential. Major genre films like The Conjuring 2 and Ghostbusters made a lot of money last year and The Mummy could fall into that tradition.



If this had been titled "Prometheus: Covenant", then this latest installment in the Alien franchise may not actually be on this list.  But the Alien name does bring with it some powerful clout.  And fans have been waiting for another great film in this franchise, arguably since Aliens hit theaters over 30 years ago.  Prometheus, though liked by some, wasn't quite what Alien fans were looking for, especially with many people not even knowing that it was an Alien prequel.  But with a stellar marketing campaign so far, including some great trailers, and two prologue shorts, I think this film has the potential to make around $175 million domestically, securing a spot in the top 10

Jonathan - DUNKIRK

Christopher Nolan is reliable. He is a critical darling. However, there is a difference between Christopher Nolan Batman movies and Christopher Nolan intellectual dramas. Dunkirk looks dark, foreboding, heart-breaking, and slow. That is not the makings of a Summer smash-hit. However, considering its weak competition toward the end of the Summer, I can see people making their way to the theater in order to experience a good WWII movie. There are some weird variables in play here as well. I think that Dunkirk could easily finish outside of the Top 10. However, I am hoping that audiences will pick a smart, well-made movie to close out their Summer.

Just like you can always bet on Michael Bay, you can always bet on The Rock. Baywatch looks extremely funny and with The Rock getting both San Andreas and Central Intelligence in the top 10 in the past two years I like his odds to three-peat.



The Transformers franchise used to be a huge hit, both domestically and internationally, with the first three films topping the $300 million domestic mark.  But, while the worldwide total has been going up, as seen by the last two film breaking $1 billion each, the domestic total has gone down.  The last film couldn't quite break $250 million, so, unless this is actually a good film (and I doubt it is), we can probably expect it to fall in the $200-$230 million range.


In 2011, The Hangover II passed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides for the #4 spot at the Summer Box Office. The Pirates franchise has since sailed off to quieter waters. Even with the reintroduction of Orlando Bloom to the cast, I do not believe that the fatigue that has set in after three mediocre entries in a fairly mediocre franchise will be shaken off by what appears to be just another forgettable adventure aboard the Black Pearl. Disney will rule the Box Office when Pirates debuts. However, with a hotly-anticipated female-led superhero film hitting theaters the next week, Pirates will have the lack of staying power that most people wish the franchise had possessed in general.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has the tough task of reviving an essentially dead franchise after a weak fourth entry. It has featured some of the old gang in the early marketing materials and got great buzz out of CinemaCon so it could sneak back into the top 10.


The Merc - CARS 3

Animated films are not to be underestimated, especially when they have the power of Disney behind them.  The next Disney/Pixar film and the third in the Cars franchise piqued people's interest with a surprisingly dark first trailer, making people who haven't bothered to watch the other two films, like myself, want to go see it.  This is why I have no doubt that this latest installment will make the Top 10.


In the Summer of 2014, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes beat The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the #5 spot of the Summer. Now, for the highly-anticipated final entry of this trilogy, I can see this franchise reboot continuing with its high-performance. Now, will it pass up the behemoths that sit atop my list? Probably not. However, once people have seen Spider-Man: Homecoming, they will probably be looking for something different. That “different” will be War for the Planet of the Apes.

You can always rely on Michael Bay for box office money on his big budget summer action features. Transformers: The Last Knight will make more money internationally than at home, but it will still make a solid amount of money.



Even though critics tend not to enjoy these films, this is one of the most lucrative franchises out there.  The last three films have either come very close to, or gone over the $1 billion mark, however most of that is international.  But with the inclusion of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly back into the fold, and some decent looking trailers, this could actually top the last film, reaching around $250 million domestically.

Jonathan - CARS 3

In 2015, one of the most obnoxious films ever made almost beat one of Pixar’s most beautiful films ever made at the Summer Box Office. Minions came within $21 million of surpassing Inside Out. Pixar’s clout with viewers is starting to fade as mediocre entry after mediocre entry leaves the studio. Nostalgia and a generally-disappointing Summer movie season helped Finding Dory reach massive critical success last year. However, after Cars 2’s fairly miserable performance in 2011, I firmly believe that Cars 3 will underperform. Cars 3 will top the charts for one week before it is surpassed by my next pick. It will also be beaten into the dust by my #2 pick of the year.

Domestically I think War for the Planet of the Apes is going to overperform relative to its international numbers. This franchise has been highly critically acclaimed and, with such a strong entry from 2014, great promotional material for this film, and a prime July release date, it is in business to make a good chunk of change at home.



The third installment of the new Planet of the Apes franchise is almost here, and I couldn't be more excited.  This is one of my most anticipated films of the year, and for good reason.  The overall quality and the box office returns have been on the rise, and from the looks of things, this might just be the best of the franchise.  I have faith that this installment could reach the heights of $250 million domestically and over $800 million worldwide.


Michael Bay destroyed the competition in 2014 with his critically-panned fourth Transformers film, which featured (among other things) discussion of grey areas in statutory rape, meaningless periods of time spent in China, and godawful special effects. Michael Bay could release an unedited movie featuring a Transformer sitting on a mildly interesting-looking tree and it would crack the Top 10 of the Summer. Teenagers love this franchise. Nostalgia and dedication will keep it alive. However, the tide is turning. This is, unless The Last Knight ends up being the best Transformers movie ever, the last Transformers movie to end up in the Top 8 of the Summer. The age of Transformers is headed toward blissful extinction.

Wonder Woman is the DCEU film of the summer and will definitely be big. This is the first time Wonder Woman has led a feature film and has had good looking trailers. Also, it is hard to discount the female empowerment angle and the number of viewers that might be drawn to the theater that wouldn’t otherwise. The reason it is this low on the list is because of the marketing not being as “all present” so far, DC being on a bit of a cold stream, and it has lots of tough competition.



Marvel isn't the only comic book game in town anymore.  This Summer we see the very first live action feature film of the Amazonian Warrior, Wonder Woman.  All three of the previous DCEU films have either gotten close to or gone over $300 million domestically.  Now, tracking indicates that Wonder Woman will come in lower for its opening weekend than the others, but if it's a good film (and I believe it will be), this can easily reach around $275 million.  And hopefully, for the DCEU's sake, it does.


This pick is difficult for me. I trust Marvel. I don’t trust Spider-Man as a general franchise. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 left a generally-bad taste in consumers’ mouths. Spider-Man films have been losing money consistently. I don’t think people are overly excited for this return to a worn-out superhero’s story. In the weeks after its release, Spider-Man will watch its Box Office dollars be subtracted and divided between War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk, and The Dark Tower. It will still do extremely well, since by all appearances it will be a well-made movie. However, it will not defeat the true success story of the summer which will be my next pick.

Ryan - CARS 3
Cars 3 is the big Pixar film of the summer and, without another Disney animated film to compete with, will be getting the full strength of the Disney marketing machine behind it. Though there may be some franchise fatigue here, this is still going to be big.



Spider-Man: Homecoming is the second Marvel release of the summer, so it's no surprise that it would be high up on the list.  Yes, it's true that Spider-Man's domestic box office trajectory has been in a decline from the very first film, but I think with the inclusion (and extremely positive response) of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, and the fantastic looking trailers (which include money-makers Tony Stark and Captain America), I think this will be the first to hit the $300 million domestic mark since the Raimi Spider-Man films.


Here is my second dangerous bet on this list (and perhaps the only one that the Internet might hate me for). Wonder Woman will be the DCEU’s first critical success, landing firmly within the Fresh end of the Tomatometer (and just outside of Certified Fresh land). Driven by good word of mouth, excellent marketing, and the draw of a female-fronted superhero film, Wonder Woman will absolutely crush The Mummy and just barely take second place to Cars 3, concluding an extremely successful three-week run by demonstrating impressive staying power even against Transformers: The Last Knight. The days of bad DC movies will come to a close and the world will settle in for Justice League, which will hopefully live up to Wonder Woman’s high bar.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the superhero film I’m kind of conflicted about (especially ranking this high) because it is a more or less unknown quantity. The Spider-Man films have been falling in box office earnings consistently over the course of the franchise. That said, they still make a lot of money and this has Iron Man (the Marvel money-making king) in it.



Never underestimate the power of kids, and of course the parents that buy those kids movie tickets.  This film franchise has proven that you don't need to be from Disney to make a super successful animated film series.  With a huge increase between the first and second film, and even a successful spinoff, this film is primed to break $300 million domestically, and will most likely enter the realms of the Billion Dollar Club.

Jonathan - DESPICABLE ME 3

Kids. See. Movies. When a kid goes to see a movie, that means that a parent will go too. Maybe an entire family will go. Your annoying aunt who constantly shares Minion memes will go see this movie. That friend in college who still hasn’t grown up yet will go see it. Despicable Me 3 will win its debut week by a landslide. It will remain in the Top 5 for a solid month of releases, hanging out around the #2 or #3 spot for the majority of weeks. It will be the longest-lasting theatrical release of the summer and will make all the money. It will only be surpassed by one massive film, which will define the tone of the Summer Box Office.

Despicable Me 3 is the kids movie with the biggest head steam going into the summer. The Minions spin-off made a lot of money a couple summers ago and the return of favorite characters like Gru and the kids promises that this will have high earnings potential.



Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 seems to be the obvious choice for #1 this Summer.  It's a Marvel film, which always tend to do well, and it's coming off an extremely successful first film.  Also, it's the first film of the "Summer", opening up on May 5.  And with the marketing push giving us a lot of the adorable Baby Groot, and a certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score of 87% currently, there's no way this doesn't take the top spot.


For the entire month of May, there will be one studio at #1: Disney. For three of those weeks, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will make almost every single penny spent at the theater. Guardians beat the competition by a mile in 2014, defeating Transformers by almost $100 million. Marvel hype is at a fever pitch. Guardians looks to be, at the very least, a passable sequel with some fun sequences. People will go back twice to see this movie, probably in IMAX 3D at least once. The power of Chris Pratt, Baby Groot, and a sick soundtrack will end all doubt that Marvel owns the Summer. That’s really all that needs to be said here. Marvel wins. Hands down.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is going to be the champion of this summer. Although the big Marvel movie fell to surprise upsets the past two years I think this is the year that it wins because nothing else seems to have the head of steam Guardians does. Definitely a film to watch out for.

And there you have it, folks!  Out top picks for the Summer of 2017.  What do you think of our picks?  What would you change?  What are you most looking forward to this Summer?  Let us know in the comments below!

Also, be sure to stick with us as I'll be doing video updates each month, going over the films released so far and where point standing are at that time.

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