erik lundegaard

The Year in Box Office 2016: Cartoons, Superheroes, Crashed Chariots, and Nothing But Star Wars

Box Office losers of 2016

The official box office losers of 2016.

I haven't done a box office post in a while—since Labor Day, actually—so thought I'd do a quick round-up of 2016 now that all (or most) of the numbers are in.

Here we go...

Star Waaars! ... Nothing but Staaar Waaars! “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was the biggest box-office hit of the year, with $513 million domestic and counting. Not much of a surprise there. Every one of the seven “Star Wars” movies but one has been the biggest hit of its respective year. The one that wasn't? Attack of the Clones,“ in 2002, which was beaten at the box office by ”Spider-Man“ and ”Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.“

Badda-Bing: Last year, of course, ”The Force Awakens“ was the biggest hit of the year. In our sequel-hungry culture, that doesn't seem like a big deal but it is. In fact, the last time two movies from the same franchise were No. 1 at the box office two years in a row, we were in the midst of World War II. It was ”Going My Way“ in 1944 and ”Bells of St. Mary's“ in 1945. 

Do that to me one more time: Speaking of sequel-hungry: The top three movies—”Rogue,“ ”Finding Dory,“ and ”Captain America: Civil War“—were all sequels.  

OK, that's enough: At the same time, a whole bunch of sequels underperformed. Here's a chart comparing the box office of the 2016 film with its most immediate predecessor:

MOVIE STUDIO BOX OFFICE PREV. FILM'S BOX OFFICE DIFF.
Ride Along 2 Uni. $91,221,830 $134,938,200 0.68
X-Men: Apocalypse Fox $155,442,489 $233,921,534 0.66
Zoolander 2 Par. $28,848,693 $45,172,250 0.64
London Has Fallen Focus $62,524,260 $98,925,640 0.63
Bridget Jones's Baby Uni. $24,252,420 $40,226,215 0.60
Now You See Me 2 LG/S $65,075,540 $117,723,989 0.55
The Divergent Series: Allegiant LG/S $66,184,051 $130,179,072 0.51
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows Par. $82,051,601 $191,204,754 0.43
Ice Age: Collision Course Fox $64,063,008 $161,321,843 0.40
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Uni. $55,455,765 $150,157,400 0.37
God's Not Dead 2 PFR $20,774,575 $60,755,732 0.34
Independence Day: Resurgence Fox $103,144,286 $306,169,268 0.34
The Huntsman: Winter's War Uni. $48,390,190 $155,332,381 0.31
Bad Santa 2 BG $17,781,710 $60,060,328 0.30
Inferno Sony $34,343,574 $133,375,846 0.26
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Uni. $59,689,605 $241,438,208 0.25
Alice Through the Looking Glass BV $77,041,381 $334,191,110 0.23

Why do I get the feeling ”White Chicks 2“ is in development? Uncommented upon phenomenon: For some reason, a whole slew of sequels were greenlit to movies from the early 2000s: ”Bridget Jones' Baby,“ ”Bad Santa 2,“ and ”My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.“ None worked. Fox went even further back, resurrecting ”Independence Day“ for another battle. Got KO'ed. If you adjust for inflation, ”Resurgence“ made 17% of what ”Independence Day“ did in 1996.

It needed the homoerotic subtext: But Fox has nothing on Paramount, which resurrected ”Ben-Hur,“ the biggest box-office hit of 1959, and one of the biggest of all time, for an August 2016 release. If you adjust for inflation, the 1959 version of ”Ben-Hur,“ starring Charlton Heston, grossed $848 million, while the reboot, starring Jack Huston, Rodrigo Santoro and Morgan Freeman, grossed $26 mil—or 3% of the original. 

Laughs, schmaughs: Only three live-acton comedies grossed north of $100 million: ”Ghostbusters“ ($128), ”Central Intelligence“ ($126) and ”Bad Moms“ ($113).

America, we have a problem: So what did we spend our money on? After ”Rogue One,“ the 12 biggest hits of the year were in the following genres: cartoon, superhero, cartoon, cartoon, superhero, cartoon,  superhero, superhero, cartoon, cartoon, superhero. (Via Vinny, here's a link to which is which.) The first movie that one might consider an adult drama, the kind of thing Hollywood used to make and market effortlessly, is Clint Eastwood's ”Sully,“ starring Tom Hanks, which grossed $125 million. It was the 22nd biggest movie of the year. There are six superhero flicks and eight cartoons ahead of it. 

If you distribute it, they won't necessarily come: Here's a chart of the lowest-grossing films that opened in more than 3,000 theaters. Reminder (since I forgot): ”Hardcore Henry“ is that attempt to do a first-person shooter game as a movie. The second and third films on this list are comedies starring Zach Galifianakis. Per ”Spinal Tap,“ I went to 11 films in order to include former box office champs Will Smith (”Collateral Beauty“) and Tom Hanks (”Inferno“):

MOVIE STUDIO BOX OFFICE THTRS
Hardcore Henry STX $9,252,038 3,015
Keeping Up with the Joneses Fox $14,904,426 3,022
Masterminds (2016) Rela. $17,368,022 3,042
Blair Witch LGF $20,777,061 3,121
Ben-Hur (2016) Par. $26,410,477 3,084
The Finest Hours BV $27,569,558 3,143
Zoolander 2 Par. $28,848,693 3,418
Collateral Beauty WB (NL) $30,621,252 3,028
Gods of Egypt LG/S $31,153,464 3,117
Mother's Day ORF $32,492,859 3,291
Inferno Sony $34,343,574 3,576

Ni hao: The top 10 movies worldwide are all from Hollywood, but both No. 12 (”Mei ren yu“) and No. 21 (”Monster Hunt“) are from China. ”Mei ren yu,“ or ”The Mermaid," is the highest-grossing non-Hollywood film of all time. Ninety-nine percent of its money was made in China. 

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Posted at 08:11 AM on Wed. Jan 25, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office  

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