For those who didn’t see F9 in IMAX this past summer, Universal went and put up the attached five-minute Jurassic World: Dominion prologue for public consumption. The prehistoric prologue offered an origin for the franchise’s star T-Rex, akin to the “Sméagol finds the ring of power” prologue of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The “dawn of time” setting and its “nature is a cruel beast” sensibilities reminded me of the “caveman discovers the black goo” prologue in The X-Files: Fight the Future. The second beat, which I did not divulge in detail at the time, exists in the post-Fallen Kingdom present-day world and features folks visiting a drive-in movie being attacked by dinosaurs.
As I noted at the time, the second portion played even better today than it might have in normal circumstances due to it A) being set in a location that has been frequented far more often in the last 18 months and B) serving as a metaphor for the movie industry as it exists today. But the most exciting portion of the tease was the “next summer” text, implying that we might have a conventional summer 2022 season to which to look forward. This was mid-June, as solid business for A Quiet Place part II and the lingering high of Godzilla Vs. Kong gave hope just before the Delta variant snatched away the promise of normalcy.
Will emerging reports of another variant originating in South Africa bring similar grim tidings and threaten to squash what otherwise was promising to be a business as usual Christmas season? I cannot say, but if you’re not vaxxed, please get vaxxed. Suppose the prologue’s debut promised a normal summer movie season in 2022. In that case, the clip’s arrival online during Thanksgiving is hopefully the starting shot in the marketing campaigns for next summer’s biggest movies. If you recall, the first teaser to Jurassic World (the one with the lovely “sad-music” version of the Jurassic Park theme) debuted on November 25, 2014, two days earlier than planned after Disney announced a teaser for The Force Awakens on November 28.
I do not know if we’ll be getting the first conventional teaser for Jurassic World: Dominion alongside the late-December likes of Sing 2, The Matrix Resurrections and Spider-Man: No Way Home, but we already got a teaser for DC League of Super Pets (set for May 20, 2022) this week and I have to assume we’ll get another “This time we mean it!” trailer for Top Gun: Maverick over the late December blitz. Will we also get a teaser for Keanu Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 4 alongside Lionsgate’s Underdog or Warner Bros.’ Matrix sequel? Can Disney drop a trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that doesn’t spoil Spider-Man: No Way Home?
And to the extent that mid-April now almost counts as summer, I imagine we’ll get first-look teases in the next month for Brad Pitt’s Bullet Train, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and WB’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore over the next month. And considering the value of dropping your trailers on what are likely to be the last super-duper blockbusters until The Batman in March versus the risk of beginning your marketing campaign too soon, will we see the June-August likes of Tom Hanks’ Elvis movie, Jordan Peele’s Nope or Illumination’s Minions 2: The Rise of Gru or will those less “obsessed fandom”-targeted flicks take advantage of not having to juice it earlier than required?
Us nabbed a $71 million debut with a single trailer launching three months out from its March 22, 2019 opening day. Minions 2 isn’t exactly playing to the geeks, although I will note that (barring any future delays for it or other films), its July 1, 2022 release will be A) two years behind schedule and B) the last “delayed from 2020” movie to hit theaters. It’s a somewhat… sparse summer calendar next year. With Black Panther: Wakanda Forever moving to November 11 and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts moving to June 2024, well, there’s no good reason for John Wick 4 and Top Gun 2 to both open on Memorial Day weekend.
May has its share of biggies (Doctor Strange 2, John Wick 4, Top Gun 2) but June is now down to Jurassic World 3, Lightyear (which got a trailer last month), Jennifer Lopez’s Shotgun Wedding and the aforementioned “Tom Hanks-as-Colonel Parker” Elvis biopic. July sees Minions 2, Nope and Thor: Love and Thunder (moved from May after Doctor Strange 2 was pushed to summer) and Dwayne Johnson’s DC Films flick Black Adam. August has just uh… yeah, if by some miracle Mission: Impossible 7 can finish early, it really might want to sneak into early August. All of this means that it’s all the more likely that Jurassic World: Dominion will rule the summer.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom earned $417 million domestic (more than The Hunger Games, Captain America: Civil War and Wonder Woman) and $1.308 billion worldwide (just under Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II and Black Panther) while the internet was obsessing about whether Ant-Man and the Wasp ($216 million/$620 million) had any clues as to the Avengers: Infinity War cliffhanger. General audiences like these films, even if Film Twitter tends to throw them in the same “worst blockbuster ever” box as their least favorite Transformers sequels. With Wakanda Forever opening next Fall, there’s nothing that can be expected to approximate the likely over/under $1.1 billion finish for Jurassic World: Dominion.
With the “series finale” bump hook, the return of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum alongside Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong’s Dr. Wu (who has become the Jurassic World franchise’s coolest character), plus the sheer “everyone can play, and there’s no homework required” appeal of these IMAX-friendly dinosaur epics makes it a surefire bet even in a more crowded summer. Barring another slew of delays, Jurassic World: Dominion opens June 10, 2022, or 29 years and one day after the first Jurassic Park. That Steven Spielberg gem opened with a then-record $50 million. Let’s circumstances haven’t again deteriorated by mid-June to the point where Jurassic World 3 opening with $50 million isn’t a circumstantial win.