2016 Box Office Preview- Monthly Outlook (July-December)

After a fairly heated first half of 2016, what exactly can moviegoers expect in the second half of 2016? With the bulk of summer’s prime moviegoing season gone (May and June), what do studios have left up their sleeves in order to lure moviegoers back out to theaters for one more time? Or maybe a few more times? (Not applicable to cinephiles, just go every week for every movie)

2016 has a lot to do, serving as a follow-up year to 2015, which just a few days ago passed the $11 billion milestone domestically, a figure which has never been hit before. Repeat: NEVER. Will 2016 provide joy or woe to studio heads and theaters? That’s what I’m going to talk about soon. Anyways, if you haven’t checked out the January-June outlook just yet (which is part 1 of this article, in other words), click this link right here. If you have, let’s get going:

JULY

bourne 5

July 2015 was huge. Without accounting for inflation, the new releases (not calendar grosses) earned up to $1294.2 million in their combined runs. That’s the second biggest figure the month of July has ever seen, just slightly behind 2013’s $1,319.5 million, and well ahead of 2014’s $814.6 million. That is, of course, thanks to Minions, which earned $336 million, fit to be the 6th biggest film of the year domestically. Of course, that ‘close to record’ figure wasn’t the work of one film, since July 2015 also saw M:I 5 ($195 million), Ant-Man ($180.2 million), Trainwreck ($110.2 million) and Terminator: Genisys ($89.76 million), all of which played no small part in helping this become the second biggest July to date. You know how big that is, if I tell you 2014 only saw 1 film above $200 million (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), and 1 film above $100 million (Lucy), with every other film being of little importance. Of course, the case isn’t that bright if we look at calendar grosses, where 2015 pale in comparison to almost every year save 2014 since 2010 began.

So, back to 2016. 2016 July’s frontrunner will undoubtedly be Star Trek Beyond and the next Bourne film, both of which will help boost July’s pedigree by earning around $250 million each (or maybe higher, but I’m going to assume one of the two hits the coveted $300 million mark, especially Bourne, which is coming back after years of hiatus). In terms of family friendly fare, there’s plenty to come by here, with Ice Age (again) and The BFG. The BFG is Steven Spielberg’s next big outing, after having directed war dramas after period dramas (okay, dramas is the key) for 7 years running now. It’s Spielberg’s next attempt at directing a kid friendly film, and yeah, $100 million is definitely in the cards here, but it’s still too far out to know. Meanwhile, it’s a foregone conclusion that Ice Age will once again suffer a slight decline, but it still has a great shot at $150 million. Oh, there’s also The Secret Life of Pets, which is simply Illumination Entertainment’s answer to Disney’s Zootopia, except having a far more prime mid July date to its liking, AKA the date where they launched their successful Despicable Me/Minions property, which is probably one of the most embraced animated films/franchises the decade has seen to date. So far, that gives us two definite $200 million hits (with one probable $100 million somewhere in there), and three $100-$200 million hits, so what else are there of much significance? There’s an all-female Ghostbusters, which will definitely benefit from generational nostalgia and Melissa McCarthy’s fanbase (which cannot be underestimated).I won’t be surprised if this here hits $200 million from pure word of mouth, especially since the director we are talking about here is Paul Feig, who’s reuniting with McCarthy for the fourth time (after Spy, $110.8 million; The Heat, $159.6 million; Bridesmaids, $169.1 million). That’s a power-combination, and with a property that’s so beloved, you know what to expect. Then there’s the big wild card- The Legend of Tarzan. This one can play like a hit, and it can play like a family film (that appeals to kids), but with The BFG being far more kid-friendly, and The Secret Life of Pets coming just a week later, if there’s a wild card I would pick, I would be looking at Tarzan. Sorry there. There’s also The Purge 3, Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, La La Land, The Lake, Lights Out and The Space Between Us to round out the films, if you were wondering. Record month? This month definitely has a shot at that, but it will require all the above mentioned films performing without any disappointments of some sort. Whatever it is, it definitely seems like a July with plenty of sleeper hits, and a few big shot titles.

AUGUST

suicide squad

Whew, that was lengthy. Anyways, August is promising to round off summer with a high. Frontrunners? Definitely countable. Suicide Squad looks like the strongest bet to earning big bucks, with this being the follow-up in the DC cinematic universe to the much more moviegoer friendly Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Of course, there’s Jared Leto playing an intriguing version of the Joker, after the critically-praised Heath Ledger. $200 million might be in the cards here, but this film is probably going to go under that, sadly. Apart from that, we are just looking at a bunch of typical August fare without much long term potential. There’s Ben-Hur, but that film doesn’t look like it has enough fuel to give $100 million a run. There’s Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s next attempt at producing a hit, after This is the End succeeded, with The Sausage Party, but as The Night Before proved, this duo might produce a few misses sometimes. Sausage Party will be an even more obscure choice for moviegoers, since it’s going to be an R-rated animated comedy. Yeah, an animation for adults. That doesn’t even come close to a match, if we listen to stereotypes. (But there’s South Park, so). There’s Pete’s Dragon, which might sadly be a miss, especially seeing how many family-friendly hits July is already looking forward to. We all know that no market should be oversaturated, so there goes Pete’s Dragon’s big hopes, especially since this property is more or less unknown. Oh, and the Mechanic is back, with Jason Statham back in the lead (unlike the Transporter series, which he left), but no big hopes there. Ultimately, expect this to be one of the quieter August months Hollywood has seen to date. I’m not really talking about 2015’s type of quietness (that’s extreme, since the only $100 million hit is Straight Outta Compton). However, being honest here- there’s just really isn’t any Guardians of the Galaxy and TMNT type of duo combo success that August 2016 should be looking forward to.

SEPTEMBER

September 2015 rebounded in a big way, after the horrifying August figures saw a year on year drop of 45.9%. In terms of new releases (and their final grosses), September’s offerings made $695.9 million, which is pretty much a record, outgrossing 2014’s $455 million, and 2011’s $607 million to be the biggest September for new releases yet. There’s a pretty lofty number, so what exactly do we have in the month of September? Let’s just raise them up, one by one- we have The Infiltrator, which is pretty much a crime drama film starring Bryan Cranston in the lead role; Patient Zero, which stars the old Doctor Who (Matt Smith) and the girl you saw from Game of Thrones (Natalie Dormer) in what seems to be a film about a bunch of zombies, wherein the cast must find Patient Zero; Clint Eastwood’s next big screen project, this time a biographical drama with Tom Hanks attached in the lead; an untitled horror movie which nobody knows about just yet; what seems to be a drama or mystery film which will be the number one choice for African-Americans, led by Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall; a horror movie brought to you by the man who brought you The Lone Ranger, the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and most importantly, The Ring; a western remake with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, AKA two of the hottest and in-demand stars in Hollywood today, alongside a star-studded cast; Sony’s next animated film; yet another animated film, this time by Warner Bros., in the name of Storks; a comedy film titled Besties; another horror movie called Delirium; a movie about the Deepwater Horizon crisis, starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich in the leads; and finally Masterminds, a comedy starring Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, and Jason Sudeikis. Assuming you’re not a film fanatic, that list probably doesn’t interest you, at the least. Apart from a Magnificent Seven reboot, there seems to be no other film out there that has the potential for being a hit, which comes across as particularly worrying. Why? 2015 had Hotel Transylvania 2 and Maze Runner 2, 2014 had Maze Runner and The Equalizer,  2013 had Insidious 2 and Cloudy 2, 2011 had Hotel Transylvania, and you get the picture. 2015’s record $696 million seems to be a definite miss, unless a big franchise property moves into the mix abruptly, but regardless, expect a down year, or rather, the quietest September month in at least a while. After all, even The Magnificent Seven has almost no way of matching up with Maze Runner’s success.

OCTOBER

gambit

2015’s October was really, really quiet, exacerbated by the fact that the prior three years had seen a year on year rise, from $573.6 million in 2011 to $878.9 million in 2014. Then 2015 came to break the trend- dipping all the way down to $577.1 million, which is the quietest October month for new releases since 2011, or when adjusted for inflation, 1991. That’s despite The Martian being a $200 million hit, but still that wasn’t enough, since only two other films earned over $35 million, Goosebumps ($78.6 million) and Bridge of Spies ($70.3 million). 2014 might not have such a big hit, but it has a couple to make up for the dearth of that- 11 films earned over $35 million, namely Gone Girl, Fury, Annabelle, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Dracula Untold, Ouija, The Book of Life, St. Vincent, John Wick and Birdman. And 2013 had Gravity, Captain Phillips and Jackass, all of which earned int he range of $100 million to $274 million, which more or less helped erase from our memories the fact that there were only five films which went over $35 million that month.

Enough about that, anyways, so.. how does October 2016 fare? Answer- maybe good, maybe not good. There’s The Accountant, starring but not being directed by Ben Affleck, alongside Anna Kendrick in a thriller film; another thriller film titled ‘The Girl on the Train’, starring two of the hottest female action stars today- Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson. Based on the novel of the same name. there’s also a film adaptation of a James Patterson novel, titled ‘Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life’; a potential Gambit film starring Channing Tatum; Kevin Hart’s next movie; a horror movie titled ‘Bye Bye Man’; A Monster Calls, where Liam Neeson stars as a tree who assists a boy with his mom’s terminal illness; the next film in the Underworld series; the sequel to Ouijia; the sequel to Jack Reacher; another horror movie that nobody knows much about just yet, and of course the film adaptation of Inferno, which follows Tom Hanks’ adventures, right after Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons sweeped the world away. Let’s look at the biggest offerings of the month- Gambit has been clouded with lots of production woes, after countless number of directors left the project, despite Channing Tatum’s enthusiasm for the project to move forward. So much for the replacement of Wolverine. Nope, the film isn’t doomed yet, since Doug Liman seems like a pretty good choice for director, the issue instead being that Gambit will probably not make its current release date, and will probably be shifted out of 2016 into 2017. Jack Reacher, Underworld and Ouija will pobably perform in line with their previous installments, with the latter though having a really legitimate chance of suffering a huge drop-off though due to horrendous reviews for the original. Kevin Hart has been a very reliable earner at the box office, and his star power has been on the rise in recent years, but with his latest offering, ‘What Now’, its likely that this film’s performance will be in line with Let Me Explain, given that both are first and foremost a concert movie. And Inferno is more or less a $100 million earner, after the prior two films in the franchise earned $217.5 million and $133.4 million. That’s just how popular Dan Brown’s film adaptations are. Now, assuming Gambit leaves its slot (and I’m telling you, it’s almost a foregone conclusion by now, unless Fox intends to rush production, but that doesn’t seem like a wise move after Fantastic Four), Inferno looks like the only $100 million earner, while Ouija, Jack Reacher and Underworld are almost assured to bring in above $35 million. The rest, though, are wild cards at this point in time. However, it looks like yet another quiet month after what seems to be a rather disappointing September, with this probably being one of the quieter October months to date.

NOVEMBER

fantastic beasts and where to find them

The second half of 2015 was really weak in terms of new film offerings, and November is no different. November 2015 wasn’t always shone in a negative light, especially since the month’s outlook was far brighter before. After all, November 2015 has the final Hunger Games chapter the world will probably see in the next decade or so (and last chapters always reap huge bounties), the next chapter in the 007 franchise, after it saw a huge uptick the previous time round, a new Pixar movie (which almost always earns over $200 million domestically, and end up achieving commercial success), the nostalgia-driven Peanuts movie, the next Seth Rogen comedy (Neighbors! This is the End!), and of course a Rocky reboot. And how did they turn up? Let’s see… disappointing all around. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is having a bit of trouble hitting the $300 million mark, a figure the past three films breezed past. James Bond is having a bit of a hard time cruising past $200 million, while the previous film easily raced towards the $300 million mark. Pixar, with The Good Dinosaur, met their lowest grossing film to date, barely earning $114.8 million, which is a far cry from the $200 million-$400 million their past number of countless films earned. A Bug’s Life is the next closest comparison, with $162.8 million, and the only other films to miss the mark are Toy Story and Cars 2, which when adjusted for inflation aren’t even close. Yeah, when adjusted for inflation, The Good Dinosaur has barely sold over half of their previous low. Okay, let’s cut some slack for Peanuts and Creed, which both either performed in line with expectations, or outright overperformed (and both were critical successes too!). Seth Rogen’s The Night Before was a miss, only earning $43 million, but that’s alright, every actor has its miss.

Okay, blahblahblah, here’s 2016’s outlook- Bastards, a comedy with Owen Wilson, Ed Helms and J.K. Simons in the leads; Doctor Strange, Marvel’s next go at introducing another hero into its cinematic realm, this time with Benedict Cumberbatch; Trolls, another nostalgia trap for kids; Ang Lee’s next film- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on the novel of the same name; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first prequel to Harry Potter you can expect in the next ten years; The Great Wall, a ‘bold’ attempt at making a China friendly production which is expected to do wonders in its homeland. Except it’s a Hollywood movie. With Matt Damon. There’s a romantic thriller with Brad Pitt; Moana, an animated movie by Disney, and finally Bad Santa 2, which wasn’t really warranting a sequel but still…

So, let’s look at the biggest films of the month- Trolls will definitely perform in line with Peanuts, Moana will probably perform in line with The Good Dinosaur, Doctor Strange will probably flirt with Spectre’s domestic gross, making them more or less even, Harry Potter will probably be filled with buzz and initial rush out, but die out before $250 million, since it’s merely a spin-off, and that’s pretty much it. It’s gonna be another down month from 2015, despite 2015’s November already being the worst November since 2008 for new releases- there just doesn’t seem to be that many draws then. Regardless, it’s still too early to judge, so let’s see how things go as we get closer to November.

DECEMBER

rogue one still

2015’s December helped relieve Hollywood of its woes, after a fairly disappointing November and October. Yeah, it won’t come anywhere close to 2007’s $1.435 billion, or 2009’s $1.636 billion, or 2002’s $1.418 billion, or 2000’s $1.437 billion. (that’s in terms of grosses belonging to films releasing that month throughout their run, not the calendar gross, where 2015 reigns supreme) Actually, looking at it now, December hasn’t been as big as it was in the first ten years of the decade, with 2014’s coming closest $1.322 billion (that’s cheating, though, since American Sniper is included, and that is technically a January release). Okay, to be fair, 2015 is already at $1.2 billion, and Star Wars probably still has enough fuel for at least another $200 million, so that brings it to $1.4 billion, where it can technically beat all years save 2009’s figure. And let’s not forget that Daddy’s Home, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Sisters, The Hateful Eight, Revenant, Joy, Point Break and Concussion have all just began their runs. In 2016’s case, we have Strangers 2- the sequel to the 2008 minor hit; Let it Snow; Star Wars again, but this time a spin-off; Passengers, which teams Chris Pratt with Jennifer Lawrence in a space-epic; Assassin’s Creed, which is pretty self-explanatory; a Jumanji remake; and of course, a musical comedy from Illumination Entertainment, titled Sing. Truth be told, December seems a bit deserted at the moment, seeing that it only has seven films dated at the moment. Looking at the month’s biggies, Passengers might be able to see a $80 million domestic figure, but that’s probably as far as it will go (until I get more details of the film, that is), Star Wars: Rogue One, honestly, won’t come close to Episode VII, since the latter is the franchise’s big return film after over a decade of absence, and this is ‘merely’ a spin-off, Assassin’s Creed might see $150 million, and Jumanji might see $100 million. Sing might see $100 million too. Looking at that, we might be seeing a bigger assortment of hits this month, but don’t expect December 2015 numbers. That comes in occasional intervals.

All right, that’s all for now! Have fun at the movies, and farewell to 2015!

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