The summer 2023 release slate is filled with potential blockbusters from various franchises, directors, and reliable studios, ranging from Pixar to the MCU as the movies with the biggest box office predictions. Summer 2022 marked an unprecedented return to form for the box office as it recovered from the pandemic, including a few surprises with new MCU movies like Thor: Love and Thunder failing to hit $1 billion while Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick broke numerous records on its unexpected $1.5 billion run (via Box Office Mojo). Considering The Super Mario Bros. Movie‘s box office set the momentum running early as it broke the $1 billion barrier in April, the highly anticipated summer 2023 slate is predicted to end with a few more movies joining the billion-dollar club.
Among the biggest movies being released in summer 2023 are Disney’s Haunted Mansion remake, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer biopic, Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid remake, and Harrison Ford’s final outing as the title character in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. While not all the big upcoming summer 2023 movies are expected to hit $1 billion, several are still projected to be box office successes and maintain buzz throughout the year as the 2024 awards season nears. Here’s a breakdown of 16 of the most anticipated movies premiering in summer 2023, ranked from lowest to highest box office total predictions.
16 Gran Turismo
Based on the video game franchise of the same name and inspired by the true story of video game player and aspiring driver Jann Mardenborough, Gran Turismo premieres exclusively in theaters on August 11. The 2023 action movie is the first major film adaptation of the massively popular video game franchise that debuted in 1997, indicating that Gran Turismo’s substantial following heading into its release will help its box office potential. Since it’s the first film adaptation, Gran Turismo likely won’t be as big as the other franchise movies it’s going up against this summer. However, since its only same-day release competition is The Last Voyage of the Demeter, Gran Turismo could end up with a $200 million worldwide gross.
Disney’s next Pixar movie Elemental hits theaters on June 16, kicking off the summer blockbuster season with an original story about fire, water, air, and land residents learning how much they surprisingly have in common. Pixar’s new entries are always exciting for the animation slate, but Elemental is at somewhat of a financial disadvantage after Disney’s box office bombs in 2022. Both Lightyear ($226.4 million) and Strange World ($73.6 million) flopped, which means Elemental has high expectations to redeem Disney’s bad animated box office streak. Given that Elemental is a Pixar movie with little competition over opening weekend, it’s still expected to bring in a number north of $100 million at the box office, but may not exceed the $226 million earned by Toy Story spinoff Lightyear in 2022.
14 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in another big-screen animation adaptation, which hits theaters on August 4. Produced and co-written by Seth Rogen, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is expected to perform well as a beloved franchise adaptation with minimal family-friendly opening weekend box office competition apart from July 28’s Haunted Mansion. The 2007 animated TMNT movie earned $96 million, the 2017 live-action film earned $246 million, and the 2014 movie made $493.3 million at the box office, so the franchise’s commercial history indicates that Mutant Mayhem will earn at least $100 million, but could very well perform similarly to the 2017 movie’s $250 million haul.
13 Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion is an upcoming remake of the 2003 Eddie Murphy movie based on the iconic Disney theme park ride. Haunted Mansion’s cast also intriguingly features big-name actors like Jamie Lee Curtis, LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, Jared Leto, and Danny DeVito. Considering the original Haunted Mansion movie earned over $182 million at the box office, Disney’s 2023 remake will likely surpass this total over the summer. Haunted Mansion premieres on July 28, so its biggest competition will be from PG-13 and family-friendly movies like Barbie the preceding weekend and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem the following weekend. With a budget estimated to be north of $100 million, Disney is likely expecting Haunted Mansion to bring in over $300 million at the box office.
One of the most highly anticipated movies of 2023, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie stars Margot Robbie as the titular doll and Ryan Gosling as the classic Mattel doll Ken in a fantasy comedy about the dolls finding happiness in the real world. Barbie is expected to be a huge hit at the box office given its substantial online hype ahead of release, but its competition and subject matter suggest it may see its total around $350-400 million worldwide after its July 21 premiere. Gerwig’s movies Lady Bird and Little Women earned $79 million and $219 million, respectively, so the 2023 movie’s $400 million projection falls in line with her box office history, especially given Barbie‘s box office battle with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.
11 Blue Beetle
Blue Beetle is one of the final entries in the DCEU before James Gunn’s DCU takes over, with the August 18-releasing movie following a string of box office bombs for the franchise. Shazam! Fury of the Gods was released in March with a massive box office letdown of $134 million, which was preceded by Black Adam’s disappointing $393 million gross against a $190-260 million estimated budget in late 2022. Blue Beetle’s lack of a major marketing campaign also gives the impression that the 2023 DCEU movie won’t rival the successes of the MCU’s hits. However, its summer release date and minimal franchise box office competition indicate that Blue Beetle could parallel the performance of Black Adam, potentially earning $400 million at the summer 2023 box office.
10 Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts
Transformers is one of the most wildly successful franchises of all time at the box office, but the summer 2023 installment isn’t expected to repeat its predecessors’ $1 billion grosses. The franchise’s 2018 movie Bumblebee earned $468 million worldwide, a significant decrease from 2017’s $605 million movie Transformers: The Last Knight and 2014’s $1.1 billion grossing entry Transformers: Age of Extinction. Facing significant box office competition with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, The Flash, and even Disney’s Elemental, the Michael Bay-less Transformers movie isn’t predicted to fare much better than Bumblebee. Consequently, June 9’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will likely gross between $400-500 million worldwide.
9 The Meg 2: The Trench
Jason Statham is returning for The Meg 2 on August 4, the sequel to the 2018 sci-fi action film that grossed over $520 million worldwide. The shark villain sequel is expected to perform similarly over summer 2023, especially given the absence of other summer-based monster movies as competition. The Meg 2’s biggest rivals will be Haunted Mansion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Gran Turismo, so the Jason Statham movie will likely perform well against these films with very different target audiences. The original Meg movie earned as much in China as it did in North America, so The Meg 2’s China release is also expected to give it a massive box office boost that could place it around a similar $500 million global total.
Christopher Nolan is back with his first big-budget feature following the debacle of Tenet’s 2020 release amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Tenet bombed in the U.S. due to the pandemic’s impact on theaters and Warner Bros.’ streaming release changes, the movie was notably successful in China, giving it a $365 million worldwide box office total. While this doesn’t come close to Nolan’s biggest box office hits like The Dark Knight trilogy’s two $1 billion earners, the obstacles it was facing make the performance commendable after Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017) made $527 million, Interstellar (2014) made $716 million, and Inception (2010) hit $836 million.
Oppenheimer departs slightly from Nolan’s typical sci-fi focus as it tackles the biopic genre, but the movie is still expected to perform well at the box office given its A-list cast, Nolan’s reputation in theaters, and intriguing premise. A big obstacle to Oppenheimer‘s success is Barbie, which also premieres in theaters on July 21. However, while Barbie will likely have a great opening weekend, Oppenheimer is expected to have longer legs in theaters, indicating a significantly larger box office total. If Oppenheimer’s pre-release excitement is also an indication of its success, then the movie could ultimately gross upward of $600 million at the box office.
7 Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse
Box Office Pro reported that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is projected to debut with a huge $80 million domestic box office haul over its June 2 opening weekend. Considering this is just opening weekend, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is shaping up to double the original 2018 movie’s $384 million worldwide gross. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is primarily facing competition from The Little Mermaid’s holdover performance, with more franchise rivals like Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, The Flash, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny arriving later that month.
Since Spider-Man movies have proven to be reliably successful at the box office in recent years, it’s expected that Across the Spider-Verse will be able to build on the momentum of the original while also holding its own against its superhero IP rival The Flash. However, Across the Spider-Verse appeals to a much broader audience pool than The Flash, suggesting younger audiences will help the animated movie’s box office skyrocket throughout the summer as DC’s installment pulls away some adult viewers. With the way its numbers are tracking pre-release, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse could pull off at least $700 million worldwide.
6 The Flash
While The Flash has faced numerous obstacles and controversy ahead of release, the nostalgia-based excitement for the upcoming DC movie is shaping up to be the crucial factor in its box office success. With Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton back as Batman, The Flash is expected to break the DCEU’s disappointing box office streak and become profitable for Warner Bros. Discovery. Although The Flash is facing competition from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Transformers’ prequel, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the summer 2023 live-action superhero movie is predicted to return a box office haul of at least $750 million.
5 Fast X
The beginning of the end of the Fast Saga, the Vin Diesel-starring Fast X cruises into theaters on May 19 with big box office expectations. Fast X’s reported budget is at $350 million, meaning the summer 2023 movie needs at least $850 million to turn a profit for Universal. Considering 2021’s F9 hit $726 million amid stricter pandemic regulations, Fast X’s 2023 arrival is even more likely to surpass this number. Fast X opens to competition with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on its third weekend, with bigger competition arriving on Memorial Day Weekend with The Little Mermaid.
However, Fast X targets a different audience base than its two biggest rivals, indicating the action franchise will still succeed throughout its run. Fast X’s opening weekend projections are estimated around $295 million worldwide, which is larger than F9 but smaller than the eighth Fast and Furious movie. As such, Fast X is more likely to range between $900 million and $1 billion by the end of its theatrical run.
4 Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny
After 42 years, Harrison Ford takes his final bow as Indiana Jones in Disney’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which hits theaters on June 30. The summer 2023 movie has been long-anticipated after 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which went on to earn $790 million despite average reviews. The fifth Indiana Jones movie is expected to perform even better given its minimal opening weekend competition, sendoff to Ford, and hype surrounding the story elements. Ultimately, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny could go on to make over $950 million worldwide at the box office, similar to June 2022’s “franchise-ending” sequel Jurassic World Dominion.
3 The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2023, properly kicking off the summer blockbuster season with a Memorial Day Weekend release date. The extended opening suggests The Little Mermaid will have a massive box office debut, but it must hold its own against holdovers like Guardians of the Galaxy and upcoming rivals like Elemental in June. Disney’s live-action remakes have performed reliably well at the box office regardless of backlash or mixed reviews, so The Little Mermaid will realistically hit $1 billion before leaving theaters, but may not be able to surpass the box office numbers of Disney’s own Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
2 Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 3
Although the movie premiered ahead of Memorial Day, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is shaping up to be one of the highest-grossing summer 2023 movies after its encouraging May 5 debut. The MCU has had a notable post-Avengers: Endgame box office slump with the exception of Spider-Man: No Way Home, but Guardians of the Galaxy’s trilogy-ending movie avoids this disappointing fate. The May 2023 movie recorded the fourth-lowest second-weekend drop of the MCU, with the movie’s box office total already soaring past $530 million worldwide after its sophomore weekend outing.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s small decrease in attendance suggests it will continue to have legs throughout May, though Fast X and The Little Mermaid will present fierce competition heading into June. Still, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has the best chance of breaking $1 billion at the box office and potentially seeing the MCU’s greatest commercial performance since Spider-Man: No Way Home. With great reviews and a must-watch premise as the MCU trilogy’s conclusion, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 could still grow its box office to at least $1 billion throughout the summer.
1 Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One
The summer 2023 movie predicted to earn the most at the box office is Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One. Premiering July 12, Mission: Impossible 7 is Tom Cruise’s first big action movie since 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick, which broke numerous box office records before accumulating a total gross of nearly $1.5 billion. Cruise’s action stunts are a huge draw at the box office, with early praise for the sequel and the franchise’s noted growth in box office totals suggesting the seventh Mission: Impossible movie will break $1 billion after its summer 2023 theatrical run. The movie’s predecessor hit $791 million, and while Indiana Jones and Oppenheimer will present significant competition, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One will likely have long legs at the box office that allow it to hit and surpass $1 billion.
Sources: Box Office Pro, Box Office Mojo