Summer doesn’t begin until June 20, but the summer blockbuster season unofficially started on May 5, when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released into theaters. I say “unofficially” because it used to be common practice for studios to debut their tentpole films no earlier than May, but in 2017, the year’s two highest grossers, Beauty and the Beast and The Fate of the Furious, came out in March and April, respectively. And they’re likely to stay at one-two until Star Wars: The Last Jedi cleans up at the box office in December. Or will they?
Here are the eight movies coming out this summer (and only the summer; so, no Justice League) that have the best chance of throwing Beast ($1.2 billion) off a castle and driving over Fate ($1.1 billion), so to speak, when it comes to international box office totals — and reasons why they will, or won’t, end the summer as the year’s highest-grossing film.
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (May 26)
Why it will: That’s not actually the name of the movie. There’s a very lengthy subtitle, which has become a Pirates tradition. I bet even the biggest Gore Verbinski, Rob Marshall, and/or Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg fan couldn’t place these films in chronological order. Does Dead Man’s Chest come before or after On Stranger Tides? And is Walk the Plank the third or fourth film in the series? I’m also willing to wager that most people wouldn’t be able to name the highest-grossing Pirates movie. Hint: it’s 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest (that’s the second one) with $1.066 billion, followed by 2011’s On Stranger Tides with $1.045 billion (that’s the fifth one). Walk the Plank didn’t make the cut, because it doesn’t exist. And that’s kind of the point.
Why it won’t: The Pirates of the Caribbean films have made over $3.7 billion at the box office, but besides the original Curse of the Black Pearl, it’s the most anonymous multi-billion dollar franchise ever, at least until Avatar 2 comes out. On Stranger Tides was more grating than fun, and although Dead Men Tell No Tales (the new one) has something that film doesn’t — the return, however brief, of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley — the world has turned on Johnny Depp in the last six years. Pirates 5 received solid buzz coming out of CinemaCon, but it might be too little, too late to topple Beauty.