Rather than just predict the summer’s blockbusters, we decided to anticipate what wisdom will be gleaned by season’s end. We should point out that we haven’t actually seen many of these movies. We based our conclusions, instead, on years of empirical data on audience behavior. In other words, we guessed.
1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is a Star
Gordon-Levitt—brilliant as a brain-damaged bank robber in The Lookout, and a teen avenging the death of his girlfriend in Brick—will so thoroughly charm audiences as a hopeless romantic wooing Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer (July 17), that they’ll completely forgive his role in G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra (August 7).
2. Talking Animals Never Fail
Some were surprised when last fall’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua made a mint. They’ll be dumbfounded when Disney’s G-Force (July 24), about an elite squad of world-saving guinea pigs, earns twice as much.
3. Bankers Getting Killed Kill at the Box Office
And especially when the one doing the killing is Johnny Depp, who plays John Dillinger, the thirties gangster who stole from and shot at bankers responsible for the Great Depression, in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (July 1).
4. Quentin Tarantino Needs a New Shtick
Like Grindhouse before it, Tarantino’s WWII actioner, Inglourious Basterds (August 21)—in which he reinterprets more classic B-movies that no one has ever seen—will fail. Ancillary point: Star Brad Pitt will (once again) provide little help filling seats.
5. Dark Still Wins in the Franchise Sweepstakes
McG’s Terminator: Salvation (May 21) will earn a fortune by returning—Dark Knight–style—to the gritty bleakness of the 1984 original. But J. J. Abrams’s lighter, sexier reboot of Star Trek (May 8) will keep the blockbusting modest.
6. Giant Robots and Blasphemy Are Recessionproof
Da Vinci Code follow-up Angels & Demons (May 15) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24) will make unimagined amounts of money from people who didn’t think they had any.
7. Jeffrey Katzenberg Is a Genius
The head of DreamWorks Animation (Monsters vs. Aliens) has been banging the 3-D drum for years, and Up (May 29), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (July 1), and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17) will enhance his cause with inflated ticket prices for those headache-inducing glasses.
8. Never Double-Dip With Cavemen
Land of the Lost and Year One feature Will Ferrell and Jack Black blundering through prehistoric times, and open within two weeks of each other (June 5 and 19, respectively), prompting studio execs to exchange phone numbers in the hopes of avoiding such overlap in the future.
9. Piracy Really Does Hurt
The accidental leak of a high-quality version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1) onto the Internet a month before its release will do untold damage to the film’s box office. Hugh Jackman’s bare chest is way less impressive on a laptop screen.
10. Cancer: Still Not Funny
Judd Apatow’s Funny People (July 31), about a dying comedian (Adam Sandler), proves impossible to build a marketing campaign around. Hollywood reverts to fart-happy bromances of yestermonth.