minfeature

Our Summer Movie Wrap-Up
From Minion Highs To Ultra Lows

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

Folks, that’s a wrap. Labor Day weekend has finally arrived, and with it, the end of another summer box office.

2015 will be remembered for a number of things, but most relevant was the major upset alert as “Jurassic World” stomped the heavy favorite, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” as the #1 film globally.

Universal’s long dormant franchise roared to life with $1.6B worldwide, while “Avengers 2” had to settle for 2nd place with a measly $1.4B, followed by those pesky little “Minions,” which also grossed $1B around the world.

Oh, wait, so, you don’t have time to read this entire article? I don’t blame you. Enough of the jibber-jabber. Let me just sum up the summer in a Twitter-length byte:

Sequels, superheroes, reboots, Pixar, The Rock, fantastic fail, f*** the police, and funny ladies. That pretty much says everything right there.

So what did we learn, exactly?

Nothing. It’s summer; you turn your brain off. Or at the very least, dial it down to a low murmur, a slight hum as it were.

I’ll attempt to dig a bit deeper than that, but for those keeping record, it wasn’t exactly one of the best summers on record, despite what you’ve been hearing from various media outlets that are a bit too jacked in to the studio system to deliver an accurate assessment.

Sure, the overall box office was up 8% over the disastrous 2014, earning $4.33B ($4.4B if you count the extra week of grosses this year), but with ticket prices reaching an all-time high of $8.61, you don’t have to be a number cruncher to know overall ticket sales in North America weren’t exactly worth crowing about.

In fact, with the uptick in average ticket prices, mostly because of 3D and increased large-format screens, as well as plush theaters, 503M tickets were sold in the U.S. and Canada, which is an increase from 2014, but still the 2nd lowest in over twenty years.

That’s the number to hold on to, folks. If any headline tells you different, they’re selling you something that just isn’t true. There are numbers that matter, sure, but actual tickets bought are the key here.

Fancy seats and expensive bells and whistles won’t be enough to ultimately curb the dizzying downturn of the movie industry, which is scrambling to find sustained terra firma these days.

The only thing that has been working is sequels and superhero flicks…and sometimes reboots. Although reboots of superhero flicks haven’t been working out so well, of late: just ask Fox and “Fantastic Four.”

And if you don’t believe me, then how else do you explain the fact that summer 2016 boasts at least one of those types of films…every…single…weekend. Every one of them, folks.

Where has original fare gone? Into hiding, mostly, as expensive missteps “Tomorrowland” and “Pixels” failed to launch franchises and will continue to dissuade studios from pumping money into unknown commodities.

And yes, for better or worse, in the studio’s eyes, launching a franchise is the common denominator of being labeled a success these days.

The only new property that may get another installment is “San Andreas,” and that’s provided Warner’s can actually book “The Rock” for another go-round, as he is the Energizer Bunny of Tinseltown right now.

It was also one of the worst summers of all-time for independent films, as there were…count ‘em…zero breakout flicks.

You can hardly count “Southpaw” as an indie, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Antoine Fuqua at the helm, but even that did marginal business. The only indie shingle that had much success was Roadside Attractions who tag-teamed with the Brian Wilson bio pic “Love & Mercy” ($12M) and Ian McKellen in “Mr. Holmes” ($16M).

Sundance favorites, Fox Searchlight’s “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and Open Road’s “Dope,” disappointed, earning  $6.7M and $16.7M respectively.

“Dope” catered to a vastly under-served African-American community this summer, but still did only decent business, although it is getting another push this weekend.

For Universal, it’s the year that has kept giving and giving and giving. After the spring success of “50 Shades of Grey” and “Furious 7,” they unleashed two other billion dollar flicks with “Jurassic World” and “Minions.” And not to mention the success of “Pitch Perfect 2.”

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WINNER’S LIST

Girl Power: The top three comedies domestically were “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Spy” and “Trainwreck.” Meanwhile, guy-centric laughers including “Vacation,” “Pixels,” and “Ted 2” missed the mark for the most part.

Amy Schumer is a bona fide A-lister now and Melissa McCarthy is still a big deal, which bodes well for next summer as she stars in the female-laden “Ghostbusters” reboot.

Marvel: Sure, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” didn’t match its predecessor, but I’m sure every executive in Hollywood would trade the family dog for a hit that big. Also, “Ant-Man” certainly was no “Iron Man,” but the film was still well received for being what amounts to a third-tier superhero.

Pixar: Yes, the immaculate streak was broken, as “Inside Out” became the first Pixar production not to debut #1, but guess what, it hit #1 two weeks later. So, yes, every Pixar flick ever released has eventually been #1 at the box office. Also, it’s just the third Pixar animation release to top $700M+ worldwide after “Toy Story 3” and “Finding Nemo.”

Music Bios: After lackluster bio-pics like “Jersey Boys” and “Get on Up” Hollywood finally delivered a musical track the public really wanted as “Straight Outta Compton” hit, and hit hard. Expect Universal to continue to tap into the rich tapestry of rap history as they also had huge success with “8 Mile.”

I mean, how can we not have a bio pic of the Beastie Boys? Hmm. If there was only a large community of Jewish people in Hollywood to support something like this.

Also, the highest grossing documentary of the year,  A24’s “Amy,” based on the wonderful and tragic life of Amy Winehouse, proved potent at the box office, tallying up $7.8M. Won’t be long before this is a dramatic adaptation, either.

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LOSER’S LIST
While Adam Sandler may have his highest grossing flick ever overseas (damn you, foreigners) with “Pixels,” it pretty much tanked in North America as even his go-to backup, Kevin “Mall Cop” James couldn’t save him here.

Other marginal disappointments included Cameron Crowe’s “Aloha,” author John Green’s follow-up to “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Paper Towns,” HBO’s “Entourage,” and Reese Witherspoon in “Hot Pursuit.”

Chill Pills: Horror couldn’t hack it this summer, as the genre didn’t have a single breakout hit, even though micro-budget horror maestro Jason Blum delivered a slew of moderate hits, including “The Gift” ($36M) “The Gallows” ($22M) “Insidious: Chapter 3” ($53M) and “Sinister 2.”

The “Poltergeist” reboot was rejected for the most part, although spending $35M and getting to over $100M worldwide isn’t ghastly by any means. Still, it’s doubtful we’ll see another installment.

Including “Transporter: Refueled” this weekend, there were 16 major sequels or reboots this summer and already 19 set for summer 2016. So get used to it, folks. We’re living in the golden age of continuing sagas.

Sequels on the upswing, meaning they will get additional installments— “Jurassic World,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” and yes, believe it or not, “Terminator: Genisys,” thanks to the $100M+ it will make in China.

Sequels on the downswing, meaning they’re likely done—“Fantastic Four” (at least with Fox as the sole provider of content), “Ted 2,” “Insidious: Chapter 3,” “Magic Mike XXL,” “Hitman: Agent 47,” “Sinister 2.”

With horror you never know, especially since Blumhouse keeps their flicks under $5M, but Blum has so many films in production, and many more franchises with a lot more upside than these series.

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TOP 10 DOMESTIC

  1. Jurassic World – $643M*
  2. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $457M*
  3. Inside Out – $344M*
  4. Minions – $324M*
  5. Pitch Perfect 2 – $183M
  6. Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation – $170M*
  7. Ant-Man – $169M*
  8. San Andreas – $154M
  9. Mad Max: Fury Road – $153M
  10. Straight Outta Compton – $135M*

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TOP FIVE DOMESTIC DEBUTS

  1. Jurassic World – $208.8M (UNI) (#1 opener of all-time domestically)
  2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (DIS) – $191M
  3. Inside Out (DIS) – $90M
  4. Minions (UNI) – $115M
  5. Pitch Perfect 2 (UNI) – $69M

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BOX OFFICE BOTTOM FEEDERS – LOWEST WIDE DEBUTS (2000+ theaters)

  1. We Are Your Friends (WB) – $1.8M
  2. Shaun the Sheep (LGF) – $4M
  3. Self/Less (FF) – $5.4M
  4. American Ultra (LGF) – $5.45M
  5. Dope (ORF) – $6.1M

*still in notable release

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TOP 10 WORLDWIDE

  1. Jurassic World – $1.63B*
  2. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $1.4B
  3. Minions – $1.01B*
  4. Inside Out – $702M*
  5. Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation – $479M*
  6. San Andreas – $469M
  7. Terminator: Genisys – $409M*
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road – $374M
  9. Ant-Man – $365M*
  10. Pitch Perfect 2 – $285M

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BIGGEST BOMB: “Fantastic Four”

RUNNER-UP: “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

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DARK HORSE: “Straight Outta Compton”

RUNNER-UP: “Trainwreck”

The Soundtrack of Summer 2015

The Soundtrack of Summer 1995

The Soundtrack of Summer 1985

The Soundtrack of Summer 1965

The Soundtrack of Summer 1915

The Soundtrack of Summer 1895

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Minions Poster Art Courtesy of Universal Studios; Posters Designed by LA