This summer, no one is safe (except for super hero franchises and kids cartoons).
The summer of 2017 has produced a rather catastrophic disconnect between Hollywood and the box office. Movie after movie has seen a massive decline in ticket sales that, as THR reports, “it will… be the first since 2006 that summer didn’t clear $4 billion.”
So who are the big losers this summer?
For one, comedies have taken a massive pummeling. Dwayne Johnson’s “Baywatch” (the movie he made for the fans) failed to break even at the domestic box office. “Rough Night” could barely turn a domestic profit off a $20 million budget. However, that pales in comparison to the walloping given to “The House“, Will Ferrell’s comedy that couldn’t break even when combining domestic and international markets. Had it not been for the extremely successful “Girls Trip“, the entire raunchy comedy genre would have been a major domestic loss.
Big budget blockbusters faired poorly too. “Transformers: The Last Knight” sank domestically and was one of the least profitable Transformers movies of all time. “The Mummy“, the apparent start to Universal’s Dark Universe, failed to attract U.S. audiences. Other domestic failures included “Pirates 5“, “The Dark Tower“, “Alien: Covenant” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets“.
But the worst of these may very well be Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword“. The movie made $30 million less than its budget.
Aside from that, there was also a large handful of smaller titles that completely flopped or at least faired poorly.
Soderbergh’s return to directing, Logan Lucky, also went under.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid sequel, the only non-animated children’s movie this year, is also the only children’s movie that under-performed.
The newest civil-rights focused film, Detroit, got absolutely destroyed in the box office.
The Book of Henry failed to make even half of its $10 million budget back.
Now there are a large handful of movies that got saved from domestic disasters thanks in large part to the international box office. “Pirates of the Caribbean 5”, “Transformers: The Last Knight”, “Baywatch”, and “The Mummy” all became huge successes when adding the international profits. Alien: Covenant also did well internationally, but not to the same extent.
“King Arthur” and “Valerian” also got some assistance internationally. However, neither of them were able to overcome their staggering budgets.
So who were the winners of the summer?
Super Hero Movies and Children’s Animations.
Wonder Woman, Guardians 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the domestic box office respectively. All three of them made over $300 million, and Wonder Woman surpassed $400 million.
Every single animated kid’s movie also made it big in the box office… yes, even the largely panned The Emoji Movie and the overlooked Captain Underpants movie. The biggest bread winners were, of course, Despicable Me 3 and Cars 3.
Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk also made it big in theaters.
War for the Planet of the Apes, while not surpassing its budget in the domestic market, still made it big when it was all said and done.
Girls Trip was the only comedy to take home a large profit. It is also the only comedy that did not have a majority white cast. Additionally, it is also the only comedy that was praised by critics.
Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver also did extremely well.
Annabelle: Creation took home an insane profit.
Finally, The Big Sick, while not receiving a massive amount of attention, still managed to take home ten times its $5 million budget.
So what does all of this say? No one can know for certain. However, the trends do seem to point to Americans being tired of massive blockbusters, and they are especially tired of raunchy comedies.
It also shows a failure of Hollywood’s to make their sought-after cinematic universes. Marvel and DC are still going strong, but any franchises hoping to make their own universes are not being met with affection. This rang clear last year with Ghostbusters 2016 as well as Independence Day 2. It now rings true this year with The Mummy and Alien: Covenant.
Moreover, this seems to be a turning point in the American box office. Transformers movies are becoming more and more incoherent to American audiences, but they still keep getting made because the International market, and China specifically, still flocks to see these movies. The Mummy’s massive CGI and expository dumps turned off American audiences, but it still did score well with the International market. With every passing year, the foreign box office gains more and more market power.
Finally, Hollywood seems to be more focused on entertaining children than they are adults. Of the top 10 summer box office entries, only two of them, Dunkirk and Girls Trip, would be considered “adult entertainment”. Yes, adults go to see super hero movies, and many see animated films, but like it or not, these movies are made specifically for children. Hollywood can’t seem to make movies that draw in the mature audiences anymore. Draw whatever conclusion you’d like from that.