Handicapping 2017: Who takes the box office?

This picture doesn't have anything to do with 2017, but we are going to be talking about gambling and I wanted to remember Bobby DeNiro when he still had his fastball and wasn't trying to inspire Ann Hathaway to be a better mom or playing anyone's Grandpa, dirty or not.  This is Robert DeNiro throwing straight heat and as Ace he was the one setting the gambling lines.  That's what I want to do here, I want to make some educated guesses at which movie will dominate the 2017 box office.

This year will see 8 big budget comicbook movies (7 plus Star Wars, but you know what I mean) hit the big screen and all of them are highly anticipated.  On top of that are some heavy hitters that want their hat tossed into the ring.  However, only one can take the top spot in 2017 though, so we need to know who the odds on favorites will be.  We can't just assume Star Wars takes the top spot since Rogue One didn't do well and when Force Awakens came out, it didn't blow past Avatar to take the top spot of all time.  This time with a different director that doesn't have the trust that JJ Abrams has, does this one take a small dip?  Let's talk about it and see...


+200 Long shots

Dunkirk

John Wick: Chapter 2

An immediate cult classic and a director that has more street cred than every other director combined. Sure, these are long shots, but you can make a (somewhat) compelling case for each of them.  Christopher Nolan knows how to make a blockbuster, but more than that, he knows how to make a blockbuster with a rich and compelling story.  So he took a full spectacle blockbuster atmosphere of World War II and combined it with a terrific cast (and Harry Styles) and trapped them on an island surrounded by German's and death in all directions.  This is going to be hard to watch and beautiful to watch and invoke every emotion in between. 

John Wick gives zero fucks and everyone that loved the first John Wick saw it at home, not in the theater. Mr. Wick didn't gain word of mouth until then and now has a following that is incredibly strong.  I will be among the first in line when Chapter 2 hits the theaters, but will myself and other Wick loyalists turn out in large enough numbers?  That answer and the answer to Christopher Nolan fans is more than likely no.  I admit that Dunkirk has the much better chance, but I will never count John Wick out.  Never!


Even Money Odds

Logan

Blade Runner 2049

War for the Planet of the Apes

This group packs a huge punch and has a solid chance to be good and extremely profitable.  This is also going to be the group that contains my favorite of all of these big budget movies.  I've been saying for months that Logan is going to be the best comic book movie of all time and it is what I'm looking forward to the most in 2017.  Everyone loves the first Blade Runner and with the extremely talented Denis Vileneuve directing the long awaited sequel the hopes are that this isn't just a cash grab.  Even if it is, then you could do worse that bringing Harrison Ford back and including Ryan Gosling.

The strongest chance might just be War for the Planet of the Apes and the excellent job that studio has done with these movies.  They took an average start to the franchise with James Franco being out acted by CGI Andy Serkis and made a sequel that is far better than the original.  War looks to be building off of that strong sequel and I am very excited to see the direction this franchise is going.  My hope is that Andy Serkis starts getting some real recognition for the clinic that he puts on in every single movie he is in. Come on, Hollywood, get it together.


-200 Strong Bets

Wonder Woman

Thor: Ragnarok

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Any one of these could come out of the gate strong, be excellent enough to garner tons of word of mouth publicity, and go on a hot streak to a huge box office number.  If you are like the majority of DC fans, then you probably think Wonder Woman is a no doubt good movie and box office hit, but let me remind you that Suicide Squad and Bats v Supes were both really good trailers to movies that were wildly disappointing.  I love the Wonder Woman trailer and I hope that it does well and gets DC on track finally, but I do have some reservations about its quality.  If it is good, then it has the best chance of being talked about and shared the most.

Thor: Ragnarok is included here, but that is less about Thor and more about the excitement to see Hulk back in action.  Thor: The Dark World was less than stellar, but Marvel is the best in the business for a reason and the SDCC buzz around seeing Hulk show up in the trailer was off the charts.  That unlimited crossover potential is what keeps Marvel on top of DC in terms of the ceiling for a movie.  That appears to be the plan in 2017 as well, with Thor teaming up with Hulk and Ironman jumping on board for Spider-Man Homecoming as well.  My guess would be that Tony Stark isn't in very much of this movie, but enough to make the trailer good and draw in audiences that might have given up on the Spidey character after several failed chances to get it right.  Both of these movies will definitely make the top 10 for the year, but the top spot might be hard to take down.


-500 Favorites

Star Wars: Episode VIII

Justice League

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2

The heavy hitters are going to do exactly what they are supposed to do at the box office.  Even if Justice League is another DC disappointment, everyone is going to see it...twice.  Those who hate it will see it 4 times just to build strong cases about why the studio got it wrong.  The trend with DC movies is that they make very strong trailers with some humor in there and that gets everyone fired up that they got it right. Then they take that opportunity to shit in your mouth.  I love DC and I love Batman, but until I see them get a couple of these right, then I am going to assume these movies are going to be bad.  For as much trust as I have in Marvel to get it right, I have the opposite amount in DC.

Part of that trust that Marvel earned was taking a comic that nobody really read and turn it into one of the best movies the studio has ever produced.  The first Guardians of the Galaxy got just about everything right and the trailer for Vol 2, looks to build off of that and then some.  They took a wrestler, Bradley Cooper but none of his looks or charm, and Vin Diesel and made all of them likable characters.  Beloved even!  That is some next level shit that Marvel is pulling off and Vol 2 is going to make a big run at the top dog.

For all of those movies, you can make a compelling case as to how they have a path to the top spot, but all of those cases include the caveat "Star Wars needs to show some flaws" in order for that to happen.  Not only flaws, but down right apathy in it's fans, but that doesn't tend to happen much.  I will be curious to see the enormous amount of respect that fans and peers show Carrie Fisher and I don't think anyone knew how much of a lose her death would lead to.  She was our Princess and our General and droves of fans will leave that theater with wet eyes when the tribute gets paid at the end of Episode VIII.  I just don't see how this isn't the top movie, but anything can happen.


Stephen Balding is the founder of Cinema Soapbox.  You can reach him at stephen@cinemasoapbox.com