By Martin Grove, ZAMM.com
Hungry for Hollywood's summer popcorn movies? Good news--they start arriving a month from now.
Memorial Day weekend, which runs from Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, will usher in the summer movie season with two new episodes from high profile blockbuster franchises--plus an original 3D animated feature.
Action audiences are already hearing a strong early buzz for the action crime thriller Fast & Furious 6
. Directed by Justin Lin, the new episode reunites Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson for the series' most high-stakes adventure yet. Nothing else is opening wide that weekend, which is always a sign that competing studios don't want to go head to head with a picture they think will be doing big box office business.
After tracking a global organization of lethal mercenary drivers Agent Hobbs (Johnson) realizes the only way to stop them is to outmatch them at street level. And that means getting Dom (Diesel) to re-assemble his elite team in London.
The franchise's first five films grossed over $699 million in domestic theaters. The last one, Fast Five
, opened Apr. 29, 2011 to $86.2 million and ended up doing $209.8 million domestically.
Memorial Day weekend will also see young adult moviegoers partying with the R-rated comedy The Hangover Part III
. Directed by Todd Phillips, the comedy stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms.
This time around there's no wedding or bachelor party to celebrate. Nonetheless, the Wolfpack still manages to run into plenty of trouble.
The series' first two episodes grossed nearly $532 million in domestic theaters. The last one, Part II
, opened May 26, 2011 to $85.9 million and ended up doing $254.5 million domestically.
Families will be the target audience for the 3D animated action adventure comedy Epic
, from the creators of the animated hits Ice Age
. Directed by Chris Wedge, it stars the voices of Beyonce Knowles, Amanda Seyfried and Josh Hutcherson.
When a teenage girl is transported to a fantasy world's deep forest where the forces of good and evil are at war, she leads the fight to save their world and ours.
Memorial Day weekend will also see some big holdover films competing for moviegoers' time and money.
The 3D sci-fi action adventure Star Trek Into Darkness
opens May 17 and will have its second weekend in theaters over Memorial Day. Directed by J.J. Abrams, it stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana. Typically, movies that open a week before a four-day holiday weekend will gross for the four days about what they opened to for three days. In Darkness
's case, that should be big money. Since the franchise started in 1979 there have been 11 episodes that have grossed about $1 billion in domestic theatres. The last one, the series reboot Star Trek
, which Abrams also directed, opened May 8, 2009 to $75.2 million and went on to gross $257.7 million in domestic theatres.
After a shocking terrorist act from within their own organization, the Enterprise's crew is called back to Earth. Defying regulations and with a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk (Pine) leads his crew on a manhunt to capture an unstoppable destructive force and bring to justice those who are responsible.
Another likely big grossing holdover film over Memorial Day weekend will be the 3D romantic drama The Great Gatsby
, based on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, it stars Leonardo Di Caprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. Gatsby
opens May 10, so Memorial Day weekend will be its third in theatres. The film should have strong appeal to adult moviegoers, who typically take longer to catch up with movies that interest them. The four day holiday should be perfect timing for adults to find time to see Gatsby
Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway is intrigued by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his Long Island neighbor Jay Gatsby/Leonardo DiCaprio. Soon, Nick sees through Gatsby's nouveau riche life, witnessing his tragic romance with Daisy Buchannan/Carey Mulligan.
Besides these recent holdovers, Memorial Day weekend will also see ticket sales for the 3D sci-fi action adventure Iron Man 3
Although Iron 3
will already have opened May 3 to what's expected based on tracking reports to be huge box office business, it will still be playing in many theatres over Memorial Day and will be attracting people who haven't seen it yet. It also should be getting repeat business from moviegoers who loved it the first time around.
At this point, Iron 3
is tracking with big double digit first choice scores almost exactly the way the 3D sci-fi action adventure The Avengers
was at this time last year before its May 4, 2012 opening. Avengers
arrived to an extraordinary $207.4 million and ended up doing $623.4 million in domestic theatres.
Last year's number one film over Memorial Day weekend (May 25-28, 2012) was the PG-13-rated 3D sci-fi action comedy Men in Black 3
. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, it starred Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin.
opened to $69.3 million for the four day holiday weekend and went on to gross $179 million in domestic theaters.
The other big film last Memorial Day weekend was Marvel's The Avengers
, which took in $47.2 million for the four days and placed second. Its cume as of Memorial Day was already an outstanding $523.9 million. It ultimately did $623.4 million in domestic theatres.
Over the years, Memorial Day weekend has seen the arrival of some of Hollywood's biggest hits. Here's a quick look at 10 memorable Memorial Day movies. Their four day grosses, of course, are lower than we're used to seeing today because back then films didn't open as wide as they do now and ticket prices were a lot lower.
2000: Mission Impossible 2
- $70.8 million.
1999: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
- $66.9 million.
1997: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
- $90.2 million.
1996: Mission: Impossible
- $56.8 million.
1990: Back to the Future Part III
- $23.7 million.
1989: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- $37 million.
1987: Beverly Hills Cop II
- $33 million.
1985: Rambo: First Blood 2
- $25.5 million.
1984: Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom
- $33.9 million.
1983: Return of the Jedi
- $30.5 million.