It happens every summer. A can’t-miss Hollywood blockbuster eats dirt at the box office.
Think “Lone Ranger,” “Ghostbusters” or “R.I.P.D.”
The film industry does all it can to guard against that happening, but consumers have the final say. And they’ll abandon a project with alacrity when the mood strikes.
It might be a shoddy trailer’s fault. Or the brand in question is past its prime. Heck, it might just come down to the public rejecting a lousy movie.
It makes looking ahead to 2017’s summer movie lineup all the more intriguing. It’s safe to say “Spider-Man: Homecoming” will print money after its July 7 release. And it’s hard to fathom that the movie-going public grew bored of the “Fast & Furious” franchise since its last installment (no. 7 for those keeping track) as “The Fate of the Furious” draws near.
The following summer 2017 releases, though, don’t come with those guarantees. In fact, some, if not all, of the following films could flop hard. Here are the five most likely duds and the reasons to be wary of their financial futures.
Dax Shepard and Michael Pena bring the 1970s TV smash to the big screen March 24. So far, so predictable. Only neither Shepard nor Pena has the kind of star power to open a movie like this.
That’s hardly the only problem. Take a look at that trailer, if you dare. It makes Sony’s “Ghostbusters” tease look like a laugh riot by comparison. The gay panic jokes feel like they were cribbed from a bad 2008 comedy. Dated and desperate.
If that weren’t enough to kill interest in the movie, today’s teens likely have no idea who Ponch or Jon are, let alone why they should give this a try over whatever’s on YouTube at the moment.
2. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Sometimes Hollywood just assumes a venerable brand can draw a crowd. It’s partly what killed both “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Lone Ranger.”
Who doesn’t get a similar sense from “King Arthur”? And what’s with the subtitle? Sounds like a marketing stretch right off the bat.
The trailer reveals another CGI-heavy affair that clashes with the film’s throwback setting. Plus, star Charlie Hunnam has yet to establish himself outside the “Sons of Anarchy” universe. Frankly, he looks out of place in the trailer.
Was anyone pining for another trip to the beach? Yes, the buff bods belonging to Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson and Alexandra Daddario will turn their fair share of heads. Beyond that, what’s the point? The original show bordered on camp, but the film version plays it mostly straight, judging by the trailer.
Johnson is a bona fide action star who is just as comfortable with a punch line. So why didn’t the trailer give him one good enough to shake off any fears of a Hollywood flop?
We’ll find out starting May 26.
4. Power Rangers
This kiddie franchise looks all grown up. Which begs the question: who is the audience for this again? Today’s teens don’t have an emotional tie to the original property. Adults who might pine for the shows of their youth likely would rather watch a superhero film than this retread.
And there’s a serious lack of star power here. When you’re boasting that Elizabeth Banks is the villain you know there’s a marketing chasm.
The trailer plays deftly into the “alienated teen” vibe. That might be enough to fill a few seats. It’ll take some SnapChat worthy word of mouth to make this a smash.
5. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Remember “Cloud Atlas”? How about “Jupiter Ascending”? Both introduced intergalactic themes without an existing brand to support them. Each underperformed.
Can “Valerian” break that short cycle?
Once more there aren’t any big names to blaze a profitable trail. Dane DeHaan (“A Cure for Wellness”) and Cara Delevingne star in this graphic novel adaptation with a seriously loopy visual style.
Director Luc Besson boasts an intriguing track record. He helped make Scarlett Johansson’s “Lucy” a surprise smash. Can he work his magic with “Valerian”?
The film hits theaters July 21.