02 May 2016

Norwegian Morning Wood's Official Summer 2016 Movie Preview

Ah we have arrived at last at the greatest time of the year - that magical period between the first weekend in May and like the second or third weekend in August where common sense is thrown to the wind and the theaters are ruled by the loud and obnoxious rather than the tepid and mundane.

Of course, if this year is to prove anything it's that Summer Release dates don't actually matter anymore. Deadpool (Feburary), Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Just-Ass (March), and The Jungle Book (a few weeks ago) have already proven that whenever a film comes out, if people want to see it, they'll see it. You see this in television as well - more and more traditional Fall to Spring seasons are eschewed by cable networks in favor of just dropping episodes when they're ready.

Well, we're clutching on to something special, dammit. Let's take a look at every single film that's opening big enough to be worth our while:


May 6th:

Captain America: Civil War

Interest Level: Damn High
Cash potential: Fucking righteous
Cultural effect: Less than Bats v. Supes, but quite a bit more positive

May 13th:

The Darkness

Interest Level: What the hell is this?
Cash potential: non-existent, even if it's counter-programming for horror lovers
Cultural effect: In two weeks after its release this will be as unknown as it was two weeks before its release. I believe in a thing called love!

Money Monster

Interest: More counter-programming for adults who like George and Julia.
Cash: Could be decent, but not huge
Culture: This looks really dumb and tonally mismanaged.

May 20th:

The Angry Birds Movie

Interest: I'm not into Angry Birds at all. It looks like it's forcing things a bit more than The LEGO Movie (2014), which took likewise unadaptable material and made something really unique.
Cash: Kids movie opening in a graveyard. Although do kids play Angry Birds?
Culture: I don't think we're getting the next Minions out of this.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Interest: Pretty high. Seth Rogen almost never misses
Cash: It'll make like $80-100 mill and that's a success
Culture: Neighbors (2014) was absolutely hilarious and has had a decent cultural impact. This could just add to more of the same mythos.

The Nice Guys

Interest: I'm down, but not sure many more are. Summer is a weird time for this release.
Cash: I actually have a small feeling this will bomb. Not sure anyone cares.
Culture: Cult status is possible, but I think it'll be a decently small splash.

May 27th:

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Interest: For all it's ragged on, Alice in Wonderland (2010) has some cool and unique moments. It's not a good film at all, but whatevs. I don't think anyone has cared about it since its release so also whatevs.
Cash: There's no way this cracks $1 billion like the first one. For one the marketing has been way more subdued, and that was totally that early 2010s 3-D/IMAX affect. See also: Wrath of the Titans (2012).
Culture: Can't see it.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Interest: Certainly higher than Alice, but possibly more niche.
Cash: Non-Deadpool X-Men movies seem to have a ceiling. And the feeling around this isn't nearly where Days of Future Past (2014) was. I'm actually discounting this, but it won't flop.
Culture: There's lots of really cool iconography on display, although the plot seems awfully formulaic.


June 3rd:

Me Before You

Interest: What the fuck is this shit?
Cash: There will be none
Culture: I repeat my first statement

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Interest: I'm super on-board with this, although I'm not sure it has the buzz of some other high profile comedies like Neighbors 2 and Central Intelligence.
Cash: The Lonely Island trio have had a crazy amount of success making viral videos, SNL zeitgeist-capturing products, and have now branched out to shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The LEGO Movie. Having said that, they actually have an egregiously terrible track record at the movies. This may land with a thud.
Culture: See above. Previous directorial works from either Jorma Taccone or Akiva Schaffer include Hot Rod (2007), MacGruber (2010), and The Watch (2012). I might consider the former two decent cult hits, and I have a sneaking suspicion that's where this lands as well.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Interest: I'm somehow more into this than the first go around. I think it's the emphasis on aggressive goofiness that I'm into more than any kind of self-serious gritty treatment of this material. It's more 80s cartoon than 00s cartoon (or 80s comics for that matter)
Cash: The first go around did alright and this has a bit better release date. It really finds its buck as a children's action film, of which there are virtually none of anymore. It will find its way.
Culture: The modern live action film series seems to add to mythos rather than extend it, and although there are some real wuuurd choices going on here, I'm not sure it'll really be cultural dynamite.

June 10th

The Conjuring 2

Interest: I actually JUST saw the first one, and didn't really think it was that much better or scarier or different than any other stock horror film, although I remember it getting a ton of good press back in the day when it was released. I'm not all that in to it, although if I had been more impressed with the original I might have been.
Cash: The first one made a ton on its own, but do horror sequels ever outgross their predecessors? My guess is that if the critics come around again and are like "It's sick, bro!" it'll do fine. If they be like "Nah, it's whack, dude" then it's fucked.
Culture: The Warrens have kind of penetrated pop culture, but for most normies it's still all about the ghosts or whatever is possessing whatever. Remember Annabelle (2014)? Lol

Now You See Me 2

Interest: Here's another sequel to a film that did well and was generally well-received, but did anyone really care? The cast for the first one was always way too good for its source material (boasting two Oscar winners and three more nominees - and the best left is still MĂ©lanie Laurent).
Cash: This is another instance of a sequel to a film that did surprisingly well. There's honestly not a lot of exact competition around it (Ninja Turtles might be the closest thing that steals its dollars, and that's saying something), so it could do pretty well.
Culture: Name any one of the first film's characters! Didn't think so!


Interest: This is all but guaranteed to be the first really big flop of summer. I can't get into this at all. What the hell is the story here? It looks like a CGI explosion, admittedly a pretty good one, but who the hell can tell what's going on. Stop giving B-movie material huge budgets just because Lord of the Rings did well fifteen years ago.
Cash: Calling my shot now, this one totally bombs.
Culture: No one will care about Warcraft, except for possibly nerds.

June 17th:

Central Intelligence

Interest: That Dwayne Johnson fat shower is real, real weird, but putting these two in a film together is a damn solid move. I don't really find myself caring about it, but a lot more will.
Cash: No brainer. This one rules June.
Culture: I have trouble naming Kevin Hart movies, but then again, I'm not black.

Finding Dory

Interest: I have almost zero interest in this, even though Finding Nemo (2003) currently sits at #2 on my Pixar Movie list. Long-term sequels just feel weird coming out of Pixar, who is known so much for its original storytelling. I'd take something weird and experimental like Brave (2012) over Monsters University (2013) any day.
Cash: Nemo is one of Pixar's truly great moneymakers. It'll do damn fine.
Culture: This all depends on how they push it. Are we really talking much about Monsters University three years down the line? No, but Obama still watches Toy Story 3 (2010).

June 24th:

Free State of Jones

Interest: I was totally getting this confused with The Birth of a Nation. Is it weird to be turned off by too many prestigious slavery movies? The premise got me but I thought the trailer took some wind out of it. If it's good I'll see it.
Cash: Why is this coming out in late June? McConaughey pushes it towards popular territory, but no part of this feels like it deserves to be here. Counter-programming against ID4: Resurge? No doubt, and it shouldn't be too tough to make its budget back.
Culture: That kind of depends on whether it gets lost between Django Unchained (2012), 12 Years a Slave (2014), The Birth of a Nation (2016), and Harriet Tubman on the $20.

Independence Day: Resurgence

Interest: Summer '96 was so hard for ID4. I remember seeing that motherfucker on vacation, man! This is totally going the Jurassic World (2015) / Force Awakens (2015) route of going bigger and nuttier while more or less retaining the exact same storyline. I lean towards not caring.
Cash: For all the reasons above there's no real reason why this doesn't light it up. I still have a nagging feeling though, mostly because nothing really grabbed me in the trailer as must-see. It will probably do okay and not the Jurassic numbers it's hoping for.
Culture: ID4 was so pure for so many years as that one non-franchise franchise. Fuck that now. I don't think this will necessarily damage the brand, but tough to add to it.


July 1st:


Interest: Could care less. Spielberg tends to fumble with this kind of material (namely beloved stuff that's not his), although our only real example is The Adventures of Tintin (2011). It's amazing how much that soured me. But I feel the same way about this as I did about that disaster.
Cash: Hard to say. It's coming off of ID4: R and running into Ghostbusters (2016) soon after, so it's a tight window to make a buck - and moviegoers have tended to run out of steam in July lately. Not sure anything about this screams "SEE ME!" and we might have our second major bomb of the Summer.
Culture: Doofy CGI. Nothing that won't be forgettable. Why does Spielberg have this hard-on for Mark Rylance all of a sudden?

The Legend of Tarzan

Interest: So damn low. I don't care about Tarzan. No one cares about Tarzan. See my comment above about B-movies getting A-Blockbuster treatments.
Cash: It seems to skew a bit darker and older than The BFG will, but they're still splitting that weekend. That's tough to come out with any significant cash flow.
Culture: Will we see a lot of Tarzan Halloween costumes? You know, you might have a kid factor, because I think I'd be down for a Tarzan when I was like 12 years old (actually, I got one - with dreads, bruh!), but it's not that cool for thirty-year olds to swing around their furniture screaming that they're Tarzan. Hrmm...

The Purge: Election Year

Interest: There seems like there is a ton of shit coming out every weekend this summer, and some of it is decent counter-programming, but stuff like this will totally cannibalize itself. Purge movies actually seem to be trending better, which is cool, and I didn't even know another one is coming out. I'm down, what the hell.
Cash: It's probably good. This is horror, but it's more fun horror, unlike The Conjuring 2, which is scary horror. This weekend certainly trends in a line from The BFG to this in getting more serious and adult, and that could pay off. It's certainly not running into The Secret Life of Pets (2016).
Culture: It's all the same at this point, although the second one actually did a decent job differentiating itself, and introducing a larger, bigger budgeted world. There's room to innovate here.

The Shallows

Interest: No one knows what this shit is. Move on.

July 8th:

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Interest: I'm personally super on-board. The trailers have done a really nice job, the cast is a dream of young likable people right now, and the turn presented among the principal characters is amazing.
Cash: Will this be the Summer of Efron? I'm actually curious how this differentiates itself from Neighbors 2, but I think it can break out. It seems like it has enough of a hard edge over some of the other comedies this summer.
Culture: Will 2016 give us one of the best summers for comedies, ever? The action films all look like garbage so I'm down.

The Secret Life of Pets

Interest: I'm generally on Team Zootopia (2016), which looks like the total winner in this "animated talking animals" showdown. Nothing about this looks very clever or interesting and it's a solid pass.
Cash: Finding Dory isn't that far behind, and that's all but guaranteed to be giant. Angry Birds isn't too far behind that, either, and has had a fair amount of marketing awareness. This will be the third talking animal movie of the summer and fourth on the year. In just two weeks it also runs into the much much much more well established Ice Age: Collision Course (2016). "Totally doomed" is a phrase used all too often these days...
Culture: Does anyone care?

July 15th:


Interest: So hard for this one. There's no one in the cast that I don't adore (for all the hate, Melissa McCarthy delivers more than she misses, even if her movies have missed lately), and Feig obviously has the credentials, but the honest truth is that nothing the film has put out has been all that funny. Hoping something lands, but could probably pass at this point.
Cash: The expectations are obviously huge. This is probably the major film of the summer if not the year. There's probably enough goodwill amongst those who follow all the bits from the cast to beef it up, but it probably won't win summer based on the collective meh of a lot of people like me.
Culture: It seems like it's halfway steeped in 'buster lore, and halfway doing its own thing. That's probably good. If this could just make Kate McKinnon a bankable megastar I think my work here on earth would be done.

The Infiltrator

Get outta here

July 22nd:

Ice Age: Collision Course

Interest: I obviously have no interest in Ice Age 17 or whatever. I actually, I think it's #5. How have they made five Ice Age movies? It battles the mind. I am pretty into Scrat, though. Great throwback to clever silent animation of yesteryear.
Cash: There's a reason why this is the fifth Ice Age and we haven't seen Ray Romano do shit else in like ten years.
Culture: Can you remember what happened in the last Ice Age? Was that the one with the pirates? It's all the same movie by now.

Lights Out

Interest: This is turning into a big summer for horror. This actually had a cool and creepy trailer, and if it rides that vibe, I might be down. Looks real stupid, though.
Cash: Right after The Purge 3 is rough, but it's a pretty different style of movie. Summer horror counter-programming doesn't work, however, when it strikes three times.
Culture: I don't think anyone will remember this years on down the line, but it's kind of a cool gimmick for the summer.

Star Trek Beyond

Interest: Ohhh yeah, another Star Trek is coming out this year. Do you remember how pumped up everyone was for Star Trek (2009)? How was that seven fucking years ago? I remember even getting jazzed for Into Darkness(2013) despite its dumb title, terrible obvious and unnecessary plot twist and the general apathy I had after it sandwiched itself in between Iron Man 3 (2013) and Fast & Furious 6 (2013). That's kind of where I'm at again. For some reason the property can't seem to elevate itself in its franchise wars.
Cash: It's really hard to say. I'm not sure this summer will undergo blockbuster fatigue at this point like 2014 or 2013 did, but that could spell doom for this. Depending on if people are enough into Ghostbusters to ignore this it might do okay.
Culture: Into Darkness, even if it was ultimately a pretty forgettable movie at least gave us that sweet space jump scene and a terrible character twist to endless debate and bitch about. Can Beyond hope to do the same!? We haven't really seen much at all about it (or even Idris Elba's villain. Yeah - he's in this film! He's in every film! He's like a black Samuel L. Jackson).

July 29th:

Bad Moms

Interest: What the fuck is this movie? Wait - is it some kind of raunchy comedy starring Christina Applegate, Kristen Bill, and Mila Kunis? Ahh - the trailer literally dropped a few hours ago....and was apparently pulled already. That's not a good way to make Bryan watch your movie.
Cash: Who knows. This seems like it's going for a Bridesmaids (2011) thing, which obviously did pretty well. Considering the cast of Bridesmaids is jamming out in Ghostbusters a few weeks before, the release date seems like a weird move. These should be pretty different films though. Or we're clearly looking at the greatest Ghosbusters ever.
Culture: Got me. Could be something.

Jason Bourne

Interest: Next to nothing. I love how they dropped Damon for Jeremy Renner, made a shitty movie, realised he sucked, and are now trying to circle back. Man, the Bourne story just feels soooo finished.
Cash: It's really really weird how the Bourne Franchise became a franchise. I remember seeing the first one alone in theaters and feeling like I was its only fan. Now it's legit, albeit with a definite ceiling. There's no real reason for audiences to feel like they need to come back, though, and it could bomb pretty bad.
Culture: Bourne's shaky cam set pieces really ruined action films for a long time. Let's avoid that.


August 5th:

The Founder

Interest: Decent. Can you tell that Mike Keaton was sore after not getting the Oscar he should have? He's crushing these kind of high profile roles. This is totally The Social Network (2010) for McDonald's, but who cares, that was a damn strong trailer.
Cash: Again, the release date seems off. Shouldn't this be an October picture? Sure, the non-Fincher here is a whole bit lighter, but it feels like this gets buried, unless its good reviews bring the old people who have been neglected all summer - having only received the maddening Money Monster a few months ago.
Culture: Could be pretty high. A good portrayal in what looks like an unconventional biopic that's relatively high profile can make a splash. The issue I can see is if McDonald's is glorified, but do average people really care about that? I had McDonald's in the past 10 days and I hate their food.

Nine Lives

This is some kind of Kevin Spacey / Jennifer Garner cat movie.

Suicide Squad

Interest: Super high. This flick has had some of the best marketing ever. Hopefully it rises past Batman v. Superman's terribly bad will and is actually a rad picture.
Cash: There's certainly a market for this anti-Superhero movie, and if Deadpool proved anything, it's that audiences want more. This could rake it in and coast through August.
Culture: All the pieces are there. Personal investment is high, the iconography is strong, and the cast and performances seem damn solid. I'm all in.

August 12th:

Florence Foster Jenkins


Pete's Dragon

Interest: So damn low. I don't really care about the original movie, and this feels really shoe-horned. Is he the one who puffs by the sea? No, that's Puff the Magic Dragon. Is that the same thing? You gotta give me something here.
Cash: There might be enough nostalgia here to lift it up, but it just doesn't feel on anyone's radar, especially for a live action adaptation on the heels of The Jungle Book, which was super successful. Bomb.
Culture: Nope.

Sausage Party

Interest: This seems really weird. I'm not totally into the concept or the parody of animated "Secret World" films with adult overtones. I was actually looking forward to this out of intrigue, but I'm not sure that it has the wit to back its crudeness.
Cash: There's almost no way this is profitable. It's so niche. It belongs on Adult Swim or something, which is influential and popular, but not in the sort of broad sense you need to sell tickets.
Culture: If anything, this could leave a huge dent in our culture for being really super weird, but I'm not sure enough thought leaders will see it for that to matter.


No one knows what this is. I mean, seriously, you don't have a poster, yet? This sounds super-August with notes of Skyline (2010).

August 19th


Interest: Do I really have to talk about these last four? These are absolute abominations that no one will see. But Ben-Hur is damn sure trying, so we ought to include the weekend.
Cash: Not for all my pocket change.
Culture: Well, the original isn't that well known or culturally significant, so surely the remake will fare better.

Kubo and the Two Strings

What the fuck is this shit? Actually this trailer is kind of legit. It might have a shot with the right marketing.

The Space Between Us

Alright, so admittedly I need to research some of these shitty movies. This trailer is also kind of cool. I'm all about original sci-fi, although that's pretty horseshit, because that doesn't a good movie make. But I'm curious about this, which probably won't light up the box office but could make a decent late August splash if marketed right.

War Dogs

Lastly we have a weird Todd Phillips war profiteering dramedy starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill. I don't care if this movie exists or not. It has the production acumen, although I think Phillips struggles when the tone isn't explicit. He seems to have trouble finding the moral sweet spot between elucidating boorish behavior and condoning it. His movies end up a pretty dark shade of gray.

So that's it. As of now you actually don't need to see any movies this summer because we've listed them all here. And just for finality's sake, let's give an official list of my "Definite Want to Probably Spend Money On":

Civil War
Neighbors 2
Nice Guys
Never Stop Never Stopping
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
The Founder
Suicide Squad
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Space Between Us

There. You only need to see nine movies and your life will matter.

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