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Hollywood’s Summer Box Office Coin Toss

the fall guy
The Fall Guy is exactly what moviegoers say they want in summer: fun, original, action-heavy, with real stars playing appealing characters. Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Scott Mendelson
May 2, 2024

Perhaps the most curious aspect of this summer movie season is that non-franchise films are poised to dominate two of the first three weekends. The Fall Guy, loosely based on a 1980s TV show nobody remembers, banks on the appeal of Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt and represents the kind of A-level action movie that fantasy franchises seemingly put out to pasture. Ditto Paramount’s Ryan Reynolds-led If—an original, family-friendly fantasy about imaginary friends living among us. It’s the kind of film that became much less bankable once audiences began flocking to all-quadrant PG-13 flicks like Transformers.    

But despite the unconventional start to the season, most of the presumed biggies this summer are indeed new iterations of existing franchises: Despicable Me 4, Twisters, Deadpool & Wolverine, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, Bad Boys: Ride or Die, etcetera. But this season’s slate is much less surefire than the mid-2010s MCU lineup or those live-action remakes of the Katzenberg-era Disney films. And I.P. doesn’t automatically create a must-see event for audiences. As we saw in the summer of 2016 (Independence Day: Resurgence, Star Trek Beyond, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) and again last summer (The Flash, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning, Part 1), there is a real danger in offering up a new installment of a once-spectacular franchise that fails to differentiate.