Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Look Back At The Summer Box Office (Part Two)

This past Wednesday, I looked at the ten biggest movies of the summer. Now, it's time for me to turn my eye to some major box office duds, the indie movie scene and a little bit more! Let's dive into the second part of my look back at the summer 2016 box office!

Big-Budget Misfires
For some reason, people just didn't seem to be clamoring for more douchebag Ninja Turtles, Brad Garett as a maniacal squid and mutant rhinos and warthogs obsessed with their own genitalia, at least, those are the takeaways for me when I look at how badly the new Ninja Turtles movie did this summer. But the Heroes In A Half Shell can comfort themselves by reminding themselves that they were far from the only big-budget blockbuster to fail this summer. Warcraft failed to crack $50 million domestically, The BFG became one of Steven Spielberg's lowest-grossing movies of all-time (maybe releasing a family movie in the two week period between Finding Dory and The Secret Life Of Pets isn't the best idea in the world?). And of course, everyone knows about Ben-Hur at this point, which cost over $100 million to make and will fail to gross over $30 million at the domestic box office. Plus, there are a number of movies that cracked the top ten films of the summer (namely, Star Trek Beyond, Ghostbusters and X-Men: Apocalypse) that are, at best, have their financially viability questioned.

Every summer has multiple big-budget misfires (remember in 2013 when we had a four week streak of White House Down, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim and R.I.P.D. all under-performing back-to-back-to-back?), this summer was particularly interesting to see what came up short though because it wasn't recent non-sequel flops like Tomorrowland or Hercules going down in flames, these were big sequels like Independence Day: Resurgence and Alice Through The Looking Glass that everyone thought were safe, even if they had notable dips at the domestic box office. But no one could have predicted multiple sequels making 60+% less than their predecessors at the box office. There is no bottom anymore for these kind of sequels, you're no longer guaranteed (if you ever really were guaranteed) an audience that'll show up just because of a brand name. And that should scare the folks behind Sumer 2017 titles like Transformers: The Last Knight, Cars 3, Pirates Of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Alien: Covenant, which could all end up like this summer's worst box office performers and come off to audiences in their marketing like pointless cash-grab sequels.

The Indie Scene Was Full Of Variety This Summer
If you wanted sentient corpses, somber Collin Farrell or a Jane Austin adaptation this summer, you were in luck! You're local arthouse theater had a ton of variety this summer and that made for some interesting box office when it came to the smaller scale titles of the past few months. Hell Or High Water was the highest-grossing indie film to come out this summer, currently standing at a domestic cume of $16.5 million and still going strong. Right behind it was Love And Friendship with $13.9 million, a big win for Roadside Attractions who've been releasing a number of smaller scale box office hits in the past two years. And then there's Hillary's America, whose $12.8 million gross is amazing for a political documentary (it's the eighth biggest movie ever in that subgenre) but is also noticeably beneath the domestic cumes of Dinesh D'Souza's past two films.

The only other indie release that managed to get over $10 million this summer was Cafe Society, which grossed $10.5 million. A decent gross even if it's more of a rudimentary cume even by the standards of just Woody Allen movies. Here's an interesting factoid; this summer had four indie movies that grossed over $10 million, which is exactly on par with how many indie movies crossed $10 million in 2015 but two less than the amount of indie features that crossed such a mark in 2014. In terms of other notable limited releases this summer, The Lobster grossed a solid $8.6 million over the past four months, making it the biggest movie of 2016 to not get a wide release. Captain Fantastic did only OK business in its quick run, topping out at $5.3 million while Hunt For The Wilderpeople also managed to be a surprisingly leggy film at the box office, grossing over $4.6 million despite never going into more than 200 theaters. Swiss Army Man probably didn't do as well as mini-studio A24 wanted with only $4 million grossed in its domestic run despite being given a wide release over the 4th of July holiday, but for a farting corpse movie that's likely an OK enough cume. Finally, it's worth noting Don't Think Twice had the best opening weekend per-theater average of the year so far by a considerable margin and managed to eke out a solid $3.1 million gross despite never going into more than 165 locations.

A Few Big Movies Saved The Summer
There was a weird sink-or-swim thing going on with this summer's box office. There were quite a few sleeper hits around (hello Bad Moms, The Shallows, Me Before You and Hell Or High Water!), but there were enough big-budget misses this summer to taint the impression of the entire season. Plus, there was the problem of a few big movies contributing the majority of the box office this summer. Yeah, the summer overall grossed $4.28 billion, but nearly a third of that alone came from the top five highest-grossing movies!  Another good example of this phenomenon is in this past July, where The Secret Life Of Pets over-performed....but not much else did aside from small-scale sleeper hits like Lights Out and Bad Moms. Ghostbusters and Jason Bourne did only OK in the US, Star Trek Beyond fell below its predecessors and there were plenty of out-right duds like Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, The Infiltrator and Ice Age: Collision Course. You're always gonna have box office misfires, but the level of influence only a few movies had over the entire summer box office this year was...interesting, we'll say that for now.

Why Didn't More Of You People See Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping?
One of the lowest-grossing wide releases of the summer was Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. What a tragedy, considering its probably the best comedy I've seen all year. Do yourself a favor and see this movie, if you haven't already, when it hits Blu-Ray and DVD this Tuesday. You won't regret it!

OK, that should do it for this summers box office. Unto the last four months of the year!

No comments:

Post a Comment