How did 2017’s summer blockbusters do at the box office?

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The summer movie season’s officially over, so now it’s time to look back at this summer’s blockbusters. Which ones succeeded? Failed? Did well overseas, but less so here in North America?

Success, underperformed, or flop?

To repeat my criteria from last year:

  • I’m determining the films below based on global box office figures, to simplify things. It also accounts for how overseas figures can make a film that did so-so here a success. See: all those “Transformers” and “Ice Age” films non-North Americans apparently can’t get enough of watching, but do tepid at best here.
  • “Success” is defined as making back twice its budget globally (going by Hollywood “logic” in what’s deemed profitable), “underperformed” is defined as making less than that amount, and “flop” as less than its budget.
  • I’m only looking at wide release films/films actually released, so the list below might differ from the films I wrote about at the start of the summer season.
  • All box office figures are as of the week of August 28, 2017, and taken from Box Office Mojo.

Success

  • Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Everything, Everything
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
  • Baywatch
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  • Wonder Woman
  • It Comes at Night
  • 47 Meters Down
  • Megan Leavey
  • The Mummy
  • Rough Night
  • Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Despicable Me 3
  • Baby Driver
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Dunkirk
  • Girls Trip
  • Atomic Blonde
  • The Emoji Movie
  • Annabelle: Creation
  • Leap!

Underperformed

  • Snatched
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long  Haul
  • All Eyez On Me
  • Cars 3
  • Wish Upon
  • The Dark Tower
  • Kidnap
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Flop

  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
  • The House
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  • The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
  • Logan Lucky

Uncertain (as of this writing)

  • The Glass Castle
  • All Saints
  • Birth of the Dragon
  • Good Time
  • Ingrid Goes West

Comments

To answer a question from last year’s summer-end roundup post (“Do audiences still care about Johnny Depp as a pirate, or Johnny Depp period?”) the answer’s “yes”… at least, outside North America. While “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” flopped domestically ($172.1 million out of its $230 million budget), the film raked in a whopping $619.7 million overseas, for a global total of $791.8 million.

The most high-profile flop this season is probably “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Domestically, the film only grossed $39.2 million; globally, it earned $146.2 million. Unfortunately, the film cost $175 million to make.

Animation

Despicable Me 3 posterTo answer my other question from last year’s roundup post (“Will the Minions outgross Mater?”), it turned out the answer’s also “yes.” The highest-grossing animated film domestically was “Despicable Me 3,” earning $255.1 million globally and a colossal $720.3 million overseas, for a total of $975.5 million to date. Globally, it’s this summer’s highest grossing film, and the third-highest grossing film of the year (behind “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Fate of the Furious”).

Meanwhile, “Cars 3” earned $149.1 million domestic/$325.3 million globally, on a budget of $175 million. Not adjusted for inflation, “Cars 3” is Pixar’s second-lowest domestic grossing film ever, just ahead of their first outright flop, “The Good Dinosaur.” If nothing else, I assume there’ll be little chance of a “Cars 4” anytime soon.

Elsewhere, “The Emoji Movie” made $77.4 million domestically and $145.3 million globally, on a $50 million budget and against harsh reviews (7% Rotten Tomatoes rating, a score of 12 on Metacritic). No accounting for taste, I guess.

Superheroes

This year’s surprise hit superhero film is “Wonder Woman,” which grossed $406.7 million domestic/$806.7 million globally. Making a superhero film starring a woman (and downplaying Zack Snyder’s Ayn Rand-inspired influence on this particular film, versus the panned “Man of Steel”/”Batman V Superman”) seems to have paid off for Warner Bros.

Globally, the top-grossing superhero film of the summer’s “Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2,” earning $389.4 million domestic/$862.8 million globally.

Meanwhile, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” has pulled in $319.8 million domestic/$737.8 million globally, showing there’s still life to the wallcrawler.

Finally, “Captain Underpants” made $73.5 million domestic/$101 million globally, on a very low (for Dreamworks) budget of $38 million. Not a “How to Train Your Dragon”-sized massive success, but still a moderately successful effort.

The domestic top 10 films

The domestic top 10 grossing films this summer:

  1. Wonder Woman, $406.7 million
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2, $389.4 million
  3. Spider-Man: Homecoming, $319.8 million
  4. Despicable Me 3, $255.1 million
  5. Dunkirk, $173.7 million
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, $172.1 million
  7. Cars 3, $149.1 million
  8. War For the Planet of the Apes, $142.9 million
  9. Transformers: The Last Knight, $130.2 million
  10. Girls Trip, $108.8 million

Conclusion

That sums things up for this summer. Various entertainment industry pundits state despite hits like “Wonder Woman” and “Despicable Me 3,” this is the worst-performing summer in a decade. The blame’s mostly on mediocre sequels and films based on TV shows nobody asked for (see: “Baywatch”).

Next year, we’re getting: “Avengers: Infinity War”; a Han Solo, um, solo film; and sequels to “Jurassic World,” “Mamma Mia,” and “The Incredibles.”

Will the oddly featherless dinosaurs stomp the superheroes? Or will the power of musicals triumph over the power of the force (or a good blaster)? We’ll find out by Labor Day 2018.


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