Summer Movies 2019: Can Trailers Predict Box Office Success?

By Lauren Orsini · June 28, 2019

Summer Movies 2019: Can Trailers Predict Box Office Success?

Just in time for the temperature to spike and the chilly inside of the theater to regain its appeal, summer movies 2019 season is here. This year offers an especially wide selection for viewers to choose from, spanning from action to comedy to horror and everything in between.

Thanks to today’s ubiquitous social streams, viewers can preview more movies more frequently without sitting through a single “coming attractions” reel. Simply by checking out trailer views and engagement on upcoming films for the summer movies 2019 season, we’ll try to predict if they’ll be blockbusters… or just busts. 

Here is a list of the most highly anticipated summer movies of 2019 as they are released, plus insights on their social footprints and subsequent box office results. (Note: we’ll update this list each week after new releases and initial box office results are in!)

Summer Movies 2019 List

Aladdin (May 24)

Disney kicks off the season with a live-action redo of its nostalgic ‘90s animated film. Although there were some raised eyebrows about Will Smith’s big blue Genie role before release, critics quickly warmed up to the film’s energetic musical numbers.

Name recognition certainly had a role in this preview’s 42.6M views since it was uploaded to YouTube in March. While initially, the trailer got the most traffic through Will Smith’s Instagram post about it, the video indicated real staying power with steadily increasing YouTube hits.

Sure enough, the box office results reflect this early hype. On its first weekend, Aladdin topped the box office results with a $91.5M total domestic release.

Booksmart (May 24)

Actress Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut with the story of two academic overachievers who vow to use the last night of high school to finally live it up. This relatable coming-of-age tale received an impressive 97% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

With a strict R rating and the content to justify it, Booksmart’s official trailer netted 11.2M views on YouTube with and 8,700 engagements.

During its opening weekend, however, Booksmart failed to outsmart the competition, landing at #6 at the box office with a total domestic release figure of $6.9M.

Brightburn (May 24)

A grisly take on the superhero genre, Brightburn features a caped crusader who is less on board with saving innocent people and more interested in going on a killing spree. This horrific interpretation of Superman was too out there for some, and the film received lukewarm reviews.

The first official trailer did better than subsequent trailers, earning a modest 18.6K views, but engagements didn’t top 1,000.

Sure enough, the box office reflected this lackluster reception, with a $7.8M opening weekend.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)

Arguably the world’s most iconic monster, Godzilla teamed up with pals like Mothra and more for this momentous flick. Unlike its predecessor, 1956’s Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, this modern take was coolly received and critiqued for replacing storytelling with all-out action.

Views peaked with the final official trailer, which netted 19.7M views on YouTube. An impressive 290K engagements may explain why viewership stayed steady even a month after the upload.

With a $47.7M domestic opening weekend, it was #1 in the box office. It seems that in this case, monster movie fans didn’t much care what the critics thought.

Rocketman (May 31)

Following the path paved by Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman brought to life the story of Elton John’s career. In terms of critical acclaim, it surpassed its Queen predecessor significantly, with an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score (compared to Bohemian’s 61%.)

With 16.7M views on YouTube, most of the engagement focuses on the trailer’s soundtrack. Meanwhile, on Facebook, the same trailer had 5.6M views, the majority of which hit on the first day the video was uploaded before petering off.

The film’s opening weekend netted $25.7M, far exceeding analysts’ expectations.

Dark Phoenix (June 7)

The latest chapter in the X-Men saga, this film documents the evolution and subsequent chaotic downturn of one of its most beloved characters, Jean Grey. Unfortunately, her story made history for all the wrong reasons, as the worst-reviewed film in the X-Men franchise.

The movie’s final trailer performed significantly better than any prior trailers, netting 18.1M views. Almost all of these views occurred within the first week after the video was uploaded.

The film’s opening weekend made $32.8M which sounds OK until you realize that makes it the first X-Men movie to open below $50M.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (June 7)

This Sundance Film Festival wunderkind tells a comic-tragic story about gentrification when its protagonist attempts to buy back the Victorian house his grandfather built. This sleeper release didn’t begin to rack up significant trailer views until the movie was already out.

On Facebook, the latest version of the trailer netted 99K views, with viewership fading three days after the movie was uploaded. The YouTube upload of the same video earned 29.9K views.

With a total domestic opening weekend of $235,272, this was a very niche offering indeed.

Late Night (June 7)

Mindy Kaling wrote and stars in this story of a woman brought on as a “diversity hire” at a late night comedy show inspired directly by events in Kaling’s own life. This Sundance Film Festival debut sold to Amazon, which leveraged its own name recognition to promote the movie.

The top-viewed version of the trailer is the one uploaded to YouTube by Amazon Studios, with 6.6M. No other official trailer upload has reached half that amount on any platform.

The movie’s wide opening weekend (following a limited opening) netted $5.5M, which at least made a profit over its reported $4M budget.

Pavarotti (June 7)

There was never going to be a standout crowd for a documentary about an operatic tenor, but this artistic film does its best to deliver. Even with overwhelmingly stellar critical reviews, the film was never meant to be much more than director Ron Howard’s passion project.

The official trailer netted 279K views on YouTube in a slow, steady uptick that lasted for about a month after the video was uploaded. Additionally, the Facebook version earned 129K views.

Pavarotti was #25 in the box office its opening weekend with a $144,032 domestic release.

The Dead Don’t Die (June 14)

A star-studded cast brings this zombie-focused comedy to life (or at least undeath). It’s fitting that every version of this effervescent film was uploaded on unofficial joke holiday April 1.

With co-uploads on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, Dead followed the movie norm with the YouTube video outperforming all others, with 10.3M views. The second-highest view count came from Twitter, which earned 4.2M views.

At the box office, the film ranked #12 with a $2.5M opening weekend.

Men In Black: International (June 14)

The fourth installment of this much-beloved franchise combines the star power and chemistry of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. Critics had high hopes for this action flick, but audiences weren’t equally hyped, and that apathy began online.

The second trailer uploaded to YouTube earned 14.3M views, which sounds impressive. However, most of those views came in the first three days and then plateaued.

This film had the lowest opening in its franchise by a difference of $20M, netting just $30M.

Paris Is Burning (June 14)

A digital restoration of a 1991 documentary, this film delves into Black and Latinx drag queen culture, showing how far the LGBT movement has come today.

Like other smaller releases on our list, this film found most of its views not on YouTube but on Facebook: 152K. It also demonstrated powerful longtail staying power, with views climbing dramatically after the trailer had already been posted for a week.

Its first weekend, in just 23 theaters, resulted in a modest $310,127 domestic opening.

Toy Story 4 (June 21)

It’s hard to believe, but Pixar managed to bottle lightning four times — critics are calling even this fourth installment of the family-friendly franchise a hit.

Viewers checked out the Toy Story 4 trailer in two surges: first, when it came out in May, and then again on opening day. Even while competing with dozens of toddler-friendly nursery rhyme videos capitalizing on its popularity, the trailer remains the topic’s top-viewed YouTube video.

Name recognition and positive reviews helped it become the biggest blockbuster of the summer so far, with a $120M opening: the Toy Story franchise’s largest opening weekend yet.

Yesterday (June 28)

A series of unlikely sci-fi circumstances leaves Jack the only person on Earth who remembers the Beatles. Critics didn’t have high hopes for this movie, but audiences felt differently: on Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 90% audience score compared to a 60% critical score.

Yesterday has the unfortunate search engine optimization flaw of sharing its name with a very common English word. That’s probably why its trailer performed poorly compared to its audience reception. Its top-viewed video doesn’t even come from its creator or studio (Universal), but in a tweet from music streaming influencer iHeartRadio.

However, the movie exceeded all critical expectations for a domestic opening of $17M.

Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2)

This highly-anticipated superhero sequel seems to have charmed audiences as much as its predecessor. A combination of action and teen romance, it follows the events of Avengers: Endgame in a high stakes environment that confirms Marvel’s box office might.

The official movie trailer has earned 70.3M views in the past 90 days, but most of those views were in the first week it was posted on YouTube (37.8M). With the entirety of the Avengers franchise behind it, this film had audiences on board from early on.

Predictably, this movie was a hit. Spider-Man delivered a $185M domestic opening, the largest six-day opening for a Tuesday release on record.

Midsommar (July 3)

American tourists visit a picture-perfect Swedish village just in time for its midsummer festival, and that’s when things take a turn for the weird. Things go from nice to nightmarish quickly in this high-class horror film with an 82% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

This indie hit didn’t start out as far under the radar as director Ari Aster’s first horror film, Hereditary, in part thanks to that previous film’s success. Simultaneous uploads of the trailer netted 7.7M YouTube views, 3.8M Twitter views, and 2.2M Facebook views.

This creepy movie turned out to be the largest indie release of the year, landing just outside of the box office weekend top five with a $6.5M opening.

The Art of Self-Defense (July 12)

This dark comedy satirizing toxic masculinity struck a chord with critics, but not so much with audiences, according to its 83% critical score and 63% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

While the trailer, posted simultaneously to YouTube and Facebook, went up in May, it wasn’t until July that it earned many views. Most likely, audiences began looking it up this month while debating whether to check it out at the theater. On YouTube, it has 8.5M views to date, but only had 3.2M a month after it went up, showing that it took audiences a while to warm up to it.

The film earned just $114,374 during its opening weekend but performance improved the following week when it was released to 500 additional theaters. Case in point: it’s a slow burn.

The Farewell (July 12)

Chinese and American culture collide in this bittersweet drama starring up-and-coming actress Awkwafina. It earned an impressive 100% score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie trailer earned 1.7M views with 1.6M in the 30-day period after it was posted. However, a follow-up posted on Twitter in July capitalizing on the film’s 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating is already experiencing far more dramatic viewership than the initial trailer.

The Farewell opened in just four locations but earned $351,330. At $87,833 per theater, that gives it the best opening weekend average of the year so far.

Sword of Trust (July 12)

The titular relic ties together a pawnshop owner and his employee, conspiracy theorists, and a couple who claims the sword is proof the South won the Civil War. However, this harebrained comedy doesn’t seem to have found a wide audience for its jokes.

Even though it capitalized on its star power by putting lead actor Marc Maron’s name in the title, the official trailer earned just 112K views. Another version of the trailer, which Maron himself shared, did better with 839K views.

Sword of Trust earned $19,332 during its sparse opening weekend.

Stuber (July 12)

An Uber driver and a bumbling detective team up in this buddy cop comedy that has performed markedly poorly with the critics. At the same time, audiences are far more likely to forgive its missteps, resulting in a 43% – 79% critic/audience split on Rotten Tomatoes.

One does not have to be a critical masterpiece to obtain a big audience. On Twitter, the official trailer netted 5.1M views, mostly in its first week after posting.

The R-rated comedy was the fourth most popular movie of its weekend with a domestic opening of around $8.2M.

The Lion King (July 19)

Aladdin wasn’t the only hotly-anticipated Disney film of the summer. The ‘90s cartoon film got a new lease on life with hyperrealistic CGI animals. The shot-for-shot remake had critics divided but attracted massive audiences of all ages to its opening weekend.

Excitement and controversy helped bolster trailer views, which performed well on a global scale. By July, the top trailer worldwide was from Walt Disney Studios India, a Hindi version of the classic song “Hakuna Matata,” with 27.9M views. Our insights show that trailers for the film in 10 different languages each netted 3.5M views or more.

The Lion King debuted at $185M, setting a record for July’s biggest domestic opening.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (July 26)

This Quentin Tarantino period piece stars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio as actors navigating Hollywood circa 1969. With a star-studded cast and famous director, this high-profile movie has been getting attention from Day One with 19.8M views on its official YouTube trailer.

The trailer enjoyed a second surge of interest on July 26 when viewers were deciding whether to watch the movie on its opening day: for a total of 515K additional views on that day alone.

Apparently, many of them did decide it was worth the watch. The movie closed out its opening weekend with a total earning of $41M, finishing just behind The Lion King.

Brian Banks (Aug. 9)

The story of a promising football player who gets tricked into serving a decade in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, this feature film deals with some heavy themes. But rather than a downer, critics and audiences praised the movie as an inspirational drama.

By its release, the film’s official trailer on YouTube had 17.6M views, but they occurred very gradually. After seven days, it only had 3.5M, gaining incrementally over the following month.

This slow burn has continued in the box office. Its opening weekend saw earnings of $2M, which lined up with critical expectations.

The Kitchen (Aug. 9)

Based on a comic book, this movie tells the tense, gritty story of three mob wives (played by Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss, and Tiffany Haddish) who take over the family business while their husbands are serving jail time. Unfortunately, these talented leads weren’t able to save a story that critics called “jumbled” and which earned a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Despite its namesake comic’s built-in audience, the movie trailer performed poorly on YouTube with just 844K views. As per usual with films that have common words as their names, it looks like low search engine optimization may have played a part in the equation.

With a $5.5M opening weekend, the movie performed below “even the lowest expectations,” according to IMDB-owned algorithmic movie tracker Box Office Mojo.

Blinded by the Light (Aug. 14)

Bruce Springsteen’s music transcends political, racial, and class borders in this film about a Pakistani teen obsessed with the Boss in late ‘80s London.

The trailer initially got some buzz on Facebook, but flickered out quickly — the video’s 1.9M total traffic had only increased by a handful of views between the seventh and 30th day after it was posted.

The movie’s $4.4M opening was a disappointment for Warner Studios: the movie barely cracked the top ten despite initial hype and great reviews. It appears that while audiences initially liked the concept of this movie, it didn’t have staying power.

Good Boys (Aug. 16)

Apparently, Seth Rogan’s profanity-laden coming-of-age comedy isn’t among the average oversexed, gross-out variety. This story about three 12-year-old boys and their misadventures trying to get their first kiss is more sweet than it is spicy.

It also struck a chord with audiences right away. Its YouTube trailer has gotten 16.7M views since June; its Twitter trailer has gotten 16M since mid-July.

Good Boys enjoyed a $21M domestic opening that exceeded expectations and made it #1 in the weekend box office. It is only the third original film in 2019 to top the weekend box office — all the others have been remakes or sequels.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Aug. 16)

This uplifting treatise on mental health was mainly panned as overly complex and directionless with a Rotten Tomatoes critical score of 44%.

Despite its basis on a bestselling novel and with a star-studded cast featuring Cate Blanchett, its trailer netted just 630K views, and almost all of those in the first few days after it was posted on YouTube.

Predictably, Where’d You Go, Bernadette did badly in its domestic opening with a $3.4M total. With an opening weekend audience that was 84% over age 25, this story about a career woman and mother’s second act resonated with only a specific niche.

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