2015 is coming to an end, and its fate now completely lies on an awoken force that’s far too strong to comprehend. Will it hit the coveted $11 billion mark at the domestic box office? Only Star Wars can make that happen. Since the year is coming to an end, though, a brand new question lingers- is 2016 going to be as big as 2015? If not, won’t everyone start talking about how the film industry is in yet another shit hole? This will be the first in a long series of posts dedicated to taking a look at the state of the films next year. This post will present (if the title left you more confused than before) to you my current views on next year’s box office, by month. Here it goes:
Every year, there’s a month where big movie studios dump their worst offerings (or maybe there’s two such months). Of course, the first official dumping season begins right after the New Year holidays, where everyone is transitioning into the new year, and are back at work (or school). People have been drained (both physically and financially), especially after the Christmas and New Year holidays. Studios probably gasped and changed their minds as soon as they saw American Sniper, though. This same time last year, American Sniper expanded into wide release, and shocked everyone across the board. How? By earning $350 million domestically, which handily became the number one film stateside for the year of 2014 (kinda pissed by that, since it denied the Hunger Games a two-peat victory at the top of the charts of two consecutive years). There won’t be a new release that has the potential to garner that amount in 2016, though, with the “biggest film of the month” title probably going to Kung Fu Panda 3 and Ride Along 2. Yeah, you can perhaps argue that the former is a big Hollywood studio’s first attempt in a long time to launch a tentpole title in January, but I have to defend my stance- the only reason why Kung Fu Panda 3 is kicking off late January is to time itself with the Chinese New Year holidays (Don’t forget China’s the world’s second biggest market, and Kung Fu Panda is probably gonna be bigger there than in the States). Meanwhile, the latter’s release date is rather expected, since the original Ride Along was released in the same month back in 2014. Ironically, both these films have a chance of scoring a record opening at the box office for the month of January had American Sniper just stayed out of their way. That’s not gonna happen, though. Apart from those two, we have a smaller Michael Bay film (akin to Pain and Gain)- 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, which is continuing the trend of releasing a patriotic, war film in January (hoping to follow in the footsteps of American Sniper, it seems). Michael Bay’s name alone might allow this film to over perform slightly, but nothing close to Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood’s passion project. We have yet another vain attempt to adapt a YA novel, The 5th Wave, this time without the romance, but more on the survival and “apocalypse” trope. We got a couple of horror films which probably won’t attract much attention (unless there’s another Mama among that bunch, but that’s really unlikely). There’s Dirty Grandpa, with Robert DeNiro and Zac Efron attached, but their names are unlikely to boost the projects that much, since they both are proven to be talents that lack the draw and maybe fanbase? (Sorry, Zac, but look at We Are Your Friends).
February, despite having more audience-friendly options at the cineplexes, always seems to falter behind January, when in comes to calendar gross. Chock that up to one problem- January has the benefit of December’s new releases (STAR WARS!!!), whereas February has the benefit of… a useless January slate which does nothing much to boost the month. In terms of February’s big offerings, we have Deadpool and Zoolander 2, both arriving over the Valentine’s Day weekend with How to Be Single, which is staying firm among two big fanfares to serve as #1) counter-programming and #2)the couple crowd that just gravitates towards such films on Valentine’s Day. Both Deadpool and Zoolander 2 have a huge fanbase (cult following?), but if one was given a choice of picking the ultimate winner, I would say- Deadpool. Deadpool has been well received ever since its first bits of marketing got thrown into the media, and let’s just say that it’s really been well hyped. Add to the fact that people have been waiting years for this (and for an R-rated Marvel/Superhero film), and we are proud to say- we have one hell of a big elephant here that’s sure to wipe the rest of the slate clean.
Meanwhile, there’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, sure to do well among those novel-readers who crave the film adaptation, but hardly anybody else. There’s Gods of Egypt, which has been receiving quite a bit of backlash following its casting decisions. There’s Hail, Caesar!, which is bound to attract anyone who loves seeing George Clooney play himself (and get kidnapped, if that isn’t great enough). But, do those films stand a chance against 2014’s outings? One simple word answers it all- NO. 2015 was extraordinary, with expected biggies like Fifty Shades of Grey ($166.2 million), and not that expected biggies like Spongebob ($162.99 million) and Kingsman ($128.3 million). Seriously, this year might not even have a single film that can hit $100 million. And even if we talking about dark horses, only Deadpool is in serious contention. In other words, expect February to be a downer (and January too, oops).
March has, in recent years, gained credibility as a month that can do gangbuster business, and thus has became the unofficial start to the summer movie season (which is starting earlier and earlier every year, by the way). March 2016 is no different, with lots of potential offerings. Of course, leading the pack is none other than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is serving as the DC Cinematic Universe’s kick-off film. DC is betting the hell out of Zack Snyder to give us all an offering which will prove it’s a formidable force on the level of Marvel, and yeah, this film is probably (or definitely) going to surpass $100 million over its opening weekend. It even has a chance of hitting $150 million, if DC persuades people to jump aboard. Apart from DC, we have Allegiant, the next installment in the Divergent series, which has been received with backlash ever since Insurgent decided to ditch the book’s plot and go its own way. As Insurgent proved, there isn’t much room for growth in this series, and technically, by serving as Part 1 of the final book, this film will probably suffer slightly, dipping in domestic profits. We have London has Fallen, the sequel to the surprise hit Olympus has Fallen, but this time far more conventional, explosion friendly, and unoriginal. Zootopia is Disney’s next attempt at an animated movie, after they realized how they can kick start film franchises and launch them into orbit, ever since they did this little film called Frozen. There’s Sacha Baron Cohen’s first film in four years- The Brother Grimsby, which is looking rather interesting, especially by the looks of its marketing (its trying to mimic Spy, and yeah, it’s doing pretty well). There’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, a sequel to the $241.4 million comedy hit, coming 14 years after the original that’s also pretty much assured of success.
So, how do March’s offerings stand up against 2015? March will at least fall even, or even beat last year’s offerings, especially after seeing that 2016’s slates is far more formidable. I mean, 2015 has Cinderella, Dreamwork’s surprise hit, and Insurgent, while 2016 has Batman VS Superman VS Wonder Woman VS Whatever villain DC throws at us, Disney’s potential surprise hit, and two comedy big name titles, and London has Fallen, and Allegiant. This, alone, will probably give 2016 it’s first ‘up’ month.
April has traditionally been a quieter month, but the month has seen several cases of big franchises crash landing amidst the otherwise tepid market in recent years. 2015 saw Furious 7, which handily took in $353 million, driven by Paul Walker’s demise and the relative uptick in popularity the series has generally seen in recent years. In 2014, Captain America: Winter Soldier earned $259.8 million, a bold first attempt by Marvel to open their film outside of the summer season and outside November. 2011 saw Fast Five, which earned $209.8 million. That’s pretty much the picture. This year won’t have the benefit of such a big name franchise like Fast and Furious and Marvel, but in their place are several potential sleeper hits. We have The Huntsman Winter’s War, a spin-off to the summer hit Snow White and the Huntsman, minus Snow White. This release date by Universal might be due to the questionable prospects of the franchise, especially since ‘Snow White’ might have been the draw the previous go round (and that film opened in the heat of June, but this year’s slate might just be a tad too packed). Meanwhile, The Jungle Book continues Disney’s bid in adapting all their stories/properties (in this case Rudyard Kipling’s), but The Jungle Book definitely has a lot of potential. Aimed for family moviegoers, the trailer definitely raises some eyebrows. We will see about how it does as we come closer to the date. Apart from that, we have quite a number of intriguing horror reboots/sequels in the name of Rings and Amityville: The Awakening. Both got delayed from their initial dates of November and January, which leads me to believe that their quality… might have an issue. Regardless, we all don’t want a repeat of The Poltergeist, and want something that can live up to its predecessor’s qualities. We have Melissa McCarthy’s next film, after the underrated Spy, releasing outside her usual March/summer release she has traditionally seen. This time, she’s teaming up with director Ben Falcone again. Familiar? Yeah, he was the guy who gave you Tammy (he’s the writer and director). The quality of the film can be questioned (Tammy was such a bore), but here’s hoping for the best, especially since the context here (and the film plot, or whatever we are given right now, seems particularly interesting). Don’t be surprised to see an opening which one can term ‘letdown’.
Oh, there’s also a Barbershop sequel, which is expected to do like it once did ($65-75 million), God’s Not Dead 2, once again appealing to the Christian crowd, and a Ratchet and Clank film. As mentioned earlier, this weekend in 2015, we had Furious 7, Paul Blart 2 and pretty much nothing else. This month’s offerings seems to be bolder and bigger, so we are looking at another up month at the least, since we got quite a number of potential $100 millions here.
Yippee!!! Summer again! Or at least for the moviegoing season, which always kick starts on the first weekend of May. This year, we got a lot, a lot of films in contention, so here it goes- in one month, we are seeing Marvel’s most ‘revolutionary’ film to date, which divides the Avengers team into half and forces them to pit their forces against each other, plus Spiderman and Black Panther and Ant-Man. We have our first serious film adaptation of a game, and one with tons of potential, in the form of Angry Birds. We have Neighbors 2, which was a surprise hit back in 2014. We have the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, although this pretty much seems like a wildcard. And we have X-Men: Apocalypse, which will be as big as the title sounds. Not to forget we have a bunch of films entering wide release on May 13th which aren’t close to resembling big summer fare.
So how does this bunch fare against last year’s? Last year saw Avengers: Age of Ultron earning a behemoth-ic $459 million, which would have been incredible if one doesn’t get reminded that the original Avengers earned over $600 million over the course of its domestic run. Pitch Perfect 2 earned $184.3 million, rekindling the idea that female-led fare can succeed on every level too. San Andreas and Mad Max: Fury Road both earned slightly over $150 million, both of which were downright surprising.Truthfully, Captain America isn’t going to be an Avengers-sized film, and Neighbors 2- admittedly- will probably see a slight decline from its predecessor. However, we still have with us Angry Birds (with bird nests of potential), Alice (which… might have enough steam to make a run for $200 million) and X-Men (definitely enough steam to make it past $200 million). What does this mean? This coming May won’t be a “Number One dominates” story. Instead, it will be an all-rounded one, with a couple of films bringing it up to par with last year’s offerings.
Yeah, the traditional start of summer is here, but the moviegoing season is already well underway. That’s nonsense, truthfully, since moviegoing season happens all year, but what I’m talking about here is summer. Where the blockbusters come to prey. And live on like the “king of the world”. June won’t be seeing as many films as May, but don’t expect a weekend with any less than two films. Over the course of one month, we will be seeing- TMNT 2 (yay, the sequel we didn’t request for), Now You See Me 2 (wasn’t that big to begin with, but interesting), Warcraft (another bold attempt at bringing a video game adaptation to the big screen), Central Intelligence (who doesn’t like Dwayne Johnson? Put together with Kevin Hart for an all-male Spy?), Finding Dory (one of the biggest Pixar hits ever gets a sequel), Conjuring 2 (Horror nerds, overload here), Independence Day 2 (not releasing on July 4th, sadly), and The Shallows, Shut In and a Lonely Island movie which hasn’t even been titled just yet. It’s unlikely nostalgia will make Independence Day 2 a Jurassic World sized contender, but once again, with the sheer size of sleeper hits in this month alone, we might be seeing at least… okay, maybe just a tad lower than last year’s figures, but really, without Jurassic World, we got something around the same level. Or maybe bigger. Once again, last year only had Jurassic World, Inside Out and Spy salvaging the month, with almost every other film underperforming or flopping outright.
All right, that’s all for this post today, and it will be followed up really soon with the July to December releases, so stay tuned!