How did 2019’s summer blockbusters do at the box office?

With Labor Day having passed, the summer’s unofficially over, along with the 2019 summer blockbuster movie season. Time for my annual look at how this year’s films did.

Succeeded, underperformed, or flopped?

To repeat my usual criteria:

  • I’m determining the films below based on global box office figures, to simplify things.
  • “Succeeded” 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 twice its budget; and “flopped” as less than its budget.
  • I’m only looking at wide release films in at least 1,000 theaters, so I don’t have to account for a bunch of smaller/art house films.
  • Figures below are as of September 2, 2019. Most information is taken from Box Office Mojo; some figures, if nothing else is available, are taken from Wikipedia. Note some August-released films (as of this writing) might fall under “underperformed” for now, but might eventually improve to “succeeded.”

Succeeded

The Lion King

  • The Intruder
  • The Hustle
  • Pokemon Detective Pikachu
  • A Dog’s Journey (no budget given, but I’ll assume a similar budget to its predecessor “A Dog’s Purpose”)
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
  • Aladdin
  • Brightburn
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters
  • Ma
  • Rocketman
  • The Secret Life of Pets 2
  • Men in Black International
  • Child’s Play
  • Toy Story 4
  • Yesterday
  • Annabelle Comes Home
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • Midsommar
  • Crawl
  • Stuber
  • The Lion King
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
  • Good Boys
  • Ready or Not
  • Overcomer
  • Angel Has Fallen

Underperformed

  • Long Shot
  • Poms
  • Dark Phoenix
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain
  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold
  • 47 Meters Down: Uncaged
  • Blinded by the Light
  • The Angry Birds Movie 2

Flopped

  • Uglydolls
  • Tolkien
  • The Sun is Also a Star
  • Shaft
  • Anna
  • Brian Banks
  • The Kitchen
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Uncertain

  • Booksmart (no budget given)

The top 10 domestic films

Here’s the top 10 domestic highest grossing summer films, as well as their Metacritic scores. (Scores in green means “recommended,” while yellow means “mixed reviews.”)

  1. The Lion King, $523.5 million (55)
  2. Toy Story 4, $430.5 million (84)
  3. Spider-Man: Far From Home, $386 million (69)
  4. Aladdin, $354.5 million (53)
  5. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, $170.9 million (73)
  6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, $159 million (60)
  7. The Secret Life of Pets 2, $157.8 million (55)
  8. Pokemon Detective Pikachu, $144.1 million (53)
  9. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, $131 million (83)
  10. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, $110.5 million (48)

The most critically popular films are (in order) “Toy Story 4,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “John Wick: Chapter 3,” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

Comments

Toy Story 4Despite being released in late April (and thus not officially counted in summer box office figures), “Endgame” was the biggest hit of the summer. Surprisingly, however, it’s also now the biggest hit film of all time, not adjusting for inflation, finally dethrowning “Avatar.”

Meanwhile, “Dark Phoenix” did as well as most people expected—that is, not very well. One of the few positives of Disney buying Fox is that hopefully we’ll see a new and improved direction for Marvel’s mutants. (And hopefully a story that doesn’t center mainly around Magneto or Wolverine.)

Other observations about the domestic top 10 films:

  • Five of them are sequels, while one is a spin-off of an earlier film series.
  • Two are remakes of earlier films.
  • Per the Bechdel Test site, most of the films pass the test. Two (“John Wick,” “Far From Home”) fail, and two (“Hobbs & Shaw,” “Secret Life of Pets 2”) aren’t listed yet. Hopefully a sign of things improving in Hollywood?

Animation

Like the box office itself, animation was clearly dominated this summer by Disney, thanks to “Toy Story 4” and the all-CGI-so-basically-a-cartoon “The Lion King” remake.

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” did well, but not at the bigger numbers its predecessors made. Meanwhile “Angry Birds 2” is likely hoping for a strong international box office at this point.

How last year’s questions turned out

To answer the questions I posed at the end of last year‘s post:

“Will ‘Toy Story 4’ show up the ‘Men in Black’ reboot?”: That’s a big “yes.” Domestically, “Toy Story 4” pulled in $430.5 million to “MIB International”‘s $79.7 million. While the latter had a strong international showing, it’s still considered a flop here.

“Will audiences flock to the latest ‘Spider-Man’ film and ignore the ‘Top Gun’ remake?”: A moot question, as the “Top Gun” remake has been pushed back to a 2020 release. Meanwhile, “Far From Home” did quite well at the box office, on the heels of “Endgame”‘s gigantic success.

“Will MoviePass still exist by the time I write next year’s post?”: The answer’s “yes,” but barely. Again, if you’re still using this service, I’d advise cancelling as soon as possible and switch to something else. (Update: MoviePass finally went under, within days of this post going up.)

Conclusion

Variety reports that this summer’s box office was down by 2% from last summer, despite the handful of massive hits.

As for next summer, there’s a lot of follow-ups to recent fare, plus a few reboot attempts. Will Wonder Woman prove mightier than Black Widow? Can Scooby-Doo do well, and fend off Mr. SquarePants’ latest cinematic effort? And will “Fast and the Furious 9” have plenty of gas left in the tank?

(Updated 9/29/19)

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