Hollywood headlines revolved around the misdeeds of men this year, but women won at the ticket booth: for the first time in film history, the top three grossing films of the year (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman) were led by female characters. Here’s our look at who else soared (and sank) at the movies in 2017.
Girls’ trips and wonder women
Women, including women of color, fronted groundbreaking hits in 2017. The R-rated comedy Girls Trip pushed well past $100 million domestically, and three female-fronted blockbusters, Beauty and the Beast ($504 million) and Wonder Woman ($412.6 million), occupy the No. 2 and 3 slots on the year-end chart. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which centers on a female lead, Rey, finished the year in the top spot ($539.4 million and counting) after opening in mid-December. Even a women-centric 2016 film, the historical drama Hidden Figures, made most of its money in 2017, grossing a rocket-fueled $236 million worldwide.
Horror makes a killing
Knife-wielding psychopaths and sewer-dwelling clowns led a menacing arsenal of modestly-budgeted horror hits. Split (which took in $138.1 million) set the bar high in January, while Get Out ($175.5 million) carried that momentum through spring; each was produced for less than $10 million. The year closed out with the witty slasher satire Happy Death Day, which crossed the $55 million mark on a $4.8 million budget. And It scared up a landmark haul for the genre, amassing a wicked $327.5 million to become the top horror release of all time.
North American grosses have traditionally buoyed Hollywood’s stake in the worldwide market, though foreign totals (particularly from Asian markets) flexed considerable box office muscle in recent years. Widely seen as disappointments in the U.S. and Canada, high profile spectacles with big name stars bounded past muted their domestic runs to staggering worldwide ticket sales in 2017. Matt Damon’s The Great Wall ($45.2 million domestic) bagged $289.4 million internationally, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage’s $301.2 million foreign total more than made up for its $44.9 million stateside take, and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’s $26.8 million domestic stumble paled in comparison to its $312.2 million global cume.
Runners, kings, and Cruise
Hefty budgets and A-list stars aren’t sure things anymore. The $150 million Harrison Ford/Ryan Gosling sequel Blade Runner 2049 and Tom Cruise’s $125 million The Mummy reboot both failed to cross the $100 million mark domestically. But those looked like minor losses compared with the costly action-oriented flops Geostorm ($33.6 million) and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ($39.2 million).
Nut jobs and one crazy mother
Animated flicks hit a rough patch in 2017. An oversaturated market hurt flower-smelling bull Ferdinand (which got off to a wilted $13.4 million start), The Star ($40.2 million and counting), The LEGO Ninjago Movie ($59.3 million), Leap! ($21.9 million), and The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature ($28.4 million).
Sadly, highbrow offerings from well respected directors didn’t fare much better. Darren Aronofsky’s mother! fizzled to a matricidal $17.8 million, the worst wide finish of Jennifer Lawrence’s career. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s powerful drama Detroit managed to scrape up only $16.8 million, and Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant struggled to hit $74 million with a $97 million price tag. Similarly, Alexander Payne’s expensive foray into special effects territory lived up to its Downsizing title, grossing a paltry $19.6 million since its Dec. 22 bow — a far cry from the typically inflated grosses posted by holiday offerings.