Summer Box-Office Forecast: Studio-by-Studio Breakdown

Warners is without a sure thing, Universal pushed back "Fast & Furious 7" and a flurry of untested titles will vie to become the next tentpole franchise.

This story first appeared in the May 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

At the Cinemacon convention in March, theater owners whooped and hollered when a chatty Mark Wahlberg took the stage at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The star of Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction proclaimed the June tentpole will be the biggest film of 2014. He's probably right: The previous installment in Michael Bay's robot action series, 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, took in $1.12 billion globally -- and that was without Wahlberg. Beyond Transformers, though, the summer prospects are far less clear for several studios. The 2014 lineup includes big risks and the potential for major misfires.

For years, Warner Bros. has been the supreme summer leader on the strength of the Dark Knight trilogy, the Hangover and Harry Potter movies and 2013's Man of Steel. This summer, that could change. Exhibitors are high on Legendary's Godzilla reboot but say the big-budget sci-fi epics Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, and Jupiter Ascending, directed by the Wachowski siblings, are huge question marks. (Warners protected its risk by taking financing partners Jupiter and Edge of Tomorrow; Godzilla came to the studio via Legendary and is almost all Legendary's.) Fox is poised to make a strong comeback, with many theater owners saying the studio has the strongest slate, led by X-Men: Days of Future Past. Sony hopes to make up for its dismal summer 2013, which inspired the wrath of shareholder activist Daniel Loeb and resulted in sweeping financial reform.

Even with all of the unknowns, some exhibitors and studio executives say summer 2014 has a solid shot at beating last year's record domestic take of $4.76 billion. Predicts Warners distribution chief Dan Fellman, "It is going to be a monster."

Next page: Universal

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