Summer 2017 box office winners and losers
A slew of Nasty Women, a band of trusty superheroes, and Jack Sparrow walk into a movie theater… That was the setup for the summer, but domestic ticket sales became the butt of the joke, trailing last year’s May-September period by 18 percent. To make matters worse, the Labor Day frame registered a 17-year low, with the top 12 earners raking in a measly $51.5 million collectively. Still, some films laughed all the way to the bank. Read on for this summer’s box office winners and losers.
WINNER (AMONG LOSERS): The Hitman’s Bodyguard
It might’ve led the weekly box office for three consecutive weeks, but The Hitman’s Bodyguard‘s path to victory was hardly a spectacular showdown. The Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson action-comedy benefitted from sitting pretty atop three weekend frames as the most prominent new wide release on the market, garnering default ticket sales as new titles like Leap!, a re-release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the long-delayed period piece Tulip Fever didn’t put up much of a fight.
WINNER: Fresh filmmaking
Original concepts injected a jolt of adrenaline into an era of aging franchises and tiresome sequels. Audiences responded to new perspectives on history (Dunkirk, $180.3 million and climbing), romantic comedy (The Big Sick, $41.4 million), the heist flick (Baby Driver, $106 million), and even the superhero movie: A youthful, witty Spider-Man: Homecoming passed $325 million domestically across the Labor Day stretch.
WINNER: Fierce femmes
Wonder Woman, the first standalone movie for a female superhero, reigns as summer’s highest-grossing film ($409.5 million and counting), and her 2017 cinematic sisters took note; Girls Trip quenched a comedy drought with a $31.2 million opening weekend (and has since grossed more than $100 million at the domestic box office), and Sofia Coppola packed fans into The Beguiled’s debut with a strong $57,323 per-screen average in limited release.
WINNER: Stealth hits
Some of the biggest box office surprises arrived in small packages. Buzzy genre fare (47 Meters Down topped $44 million), a Sundance slam (Beatriz at Dinner ate up $7.1 million), an interracial YA romance (Everything, Everything loved up 34.1 million), and demographic-driven dramas (Lowriders drove $6.2 million) all quietly racked up profits without much fanfare.
WINNER: Cool Chris-es
Chris-mas came early this year for Hollywood’s leading trifecta of same-named stars, each of whom launched high-profile superhero successes, like Pratt’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($389.7 million), Pine’s Wonder Woman ($409.5 million), and Evans’ hilarious self-mocking Captain America cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming ($325.1 million).
LOSER: Fading franchises
While healthy foreign grosses kept this year’s big-budget continuations afloat, domestic moviegoers have grown weary of aging properties that simply retread tired formulas: Despicable Me 3 ($258.8 million), Transformers: The Last Knight ($130.2 million), Cars 3 ($151.5 million), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($172.3 million) all registered series-low totals (or close to it) in the U.S.
LOSER: Funny guys (and gals)
The joyriding ladies and gentlemen of Girls Trip and The Hitman’s Bodyguard aside, comedy traversed a bumpy road this summer. Rough Night ($22 million) lived up to its title, and Baywatch ($58.1 million) sank The Rock’s winning streak. America didn’t even humor Amy Schumer’s Snatched ($45.8 million), or The House ($25.6 million), featuring genre staples Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler.
LOSER: Famed directors
Well-known filmmakers couldn’t command audience attention this year either. Expensive underperformers included Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant ($74.3 million), Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ($39.2 million), Michael Bay’s fifth Transformers movie ($130.2 million), Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow’s drama detour The Book of Henry ($4.3 million), and Luc Besson’s Valerian ($39.8 million).
LOSER: Creature Cruise
Audiences aren’t showing Tom Cruise the money after all. Intended as a launchpad for Universal’s Dark Universe, The Mummy unraveled across its stateside run, earning just over $80 million in the U.S. and Canada—well below its reported $125 million budget. Luckily, Cruise’s next Mission: Impossible film should put him back in the black next year.