2016 Box Office
Here’s my annual rundown of highly implausible guesswork on what will rule the box office roost in 2016. Skip to the end for the reckoning of my 2015 major fails and minor correct calls.
50. Nine Lives
WW: $120m, US: $60m
Kevin Spacey stuck in a cat, kind of. (27 May US, 27 April UK)
49. Me Before You
WW: $125m, US: $60m
Emilia Clarke tends paralysed Sam Claflin. Angling for this year’s The Fault in Our Stars, rather than Paper Towns.
48. Hail, Caesar!
WW: $125m, US: $45m
Coens and Clooney, probably finishing up in The Royal Tennenbaums ballpark for eccentric period comedies. (5 Feb US, 6 March UK)
47. Ride Along 2
WW: 140m, US: $110m
Likely a similar US response to the original Kevin Hart/Ice Cube starrer, and a very slight uptick internationally. As for quality, why even ask? (US: 15 Jan, UK: 22 Jan)
46. Gods of Egypt
WW: $145m, US: $35m
Alex Proyas takes a trip to ancient Egypt via Ridley Scott’s Caucasian wide-angle lens. Whitewashing aside, this looks like an onslaught of bad CGI gubbins. (26 Feb)
45. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
WW: $165m, US: $80m
More coarse hijinks, but to diminishing returns? (US: 20 May, UK: 6 May)
44. Assassin’s Creed
WW: $175m, US: $65m
Michael Fassbender attempts to break the curse of video game adaptations. Good luck, Fass. (US: 21 Dec, UK: 30 Dec)
WW: $175m, US: $65m
Can Warner animation deliver a big hit, or merely a baby-sized one? (US: 23 Sep, UK: 14 Oct)
42. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
WW: $175m, US: $70m
Cruise is really reaching if he thinks this is going bigger than the tepid response to the last Jack. (21 Oct)
41. Now You See Me 2
WW: $185m, US: $65m
So redundant they didn’t even use Now You Don’t as the title. The first made a mystifying amount of money, considering how shitty it was. If there’s any justice, this will be a Ted 2. (10 Jun)
40. The Legend of Tarzan
WW: $185m, US: $65m
Tales of trouble in the jungle, par for the course with WB releases of late. It should at least open. (US: 1 July, UK: 8 July)
39. Underworld 5
WW: $190m, US: $40m
I wouldn’t bet against this series doing a Resident Evil and proving critic and US audience-proof yet again. (US: 21 Oct)
38. London has Fallen
WW: $195m, US: $90m
Gerard Butler snaps more necks. (4 March)
WW: $205m, US: $55m
Resident Evil may be the exception that proves the rule, as the trailers for this suggest yet another video game adaptation flop. And a hugely expensive one to boot. (US: 10 June, UK: 3 June)
WW: $210m, US: $65m
Talking of hugely expensive, unless Timur Bekmambetov is wooing the Christian ticket, this will go the way of Exodus. (US: 12 Aug, UK: 26 Aug)
WW: $225m, US: $85m
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt prove their star mettle in a costly sci-fi original. Much as I’d like it to be great, and it might just be, I’m guessing it’s still too damn expensive. (US: 21 Dec, UK: 23 Dec)
34. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
WW: $225m, US: $85m
Has the Divergent series had it? The sequel made less than the first, and anticipation for the finale may just drain away through splitting it in two. (US: 18 Mar, UK: 11 Mar)
33. The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist
WW: $230m, US: $115m
The Warrens decamp to blighty in this spook sequel. The first was well-received, so this could do nicely. (US: 10 June, UK: 17 June)
32. Central Intelligence
WW: $240m, US: $145m
Kevin Hart has yet to translate internationally, but Dwayne Johnson is making ever more of a mark, and this looks reasonably funny. (US: 17 June, UK: 1 July)
31. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiars
WW: $255m, US: $115m
Tim Burton desperately needs a hit, and family fare (Alice, Charlie) has done him well historically. (US: 25 Dec, UK: 18 Feb 2017)
WW: $260m, US: $80m
And another remake. We’ve already kind of had this with Goosebumps, but the 20 years ago original did very well, and no doubt the effects will be top notch (or maybe not). A Christmas release, it has a fair bit of family competition. However, I’m sure the genius mind of Jonathan Liebesman (he who brought the Turtles to a whole new generation, to universal acclaim) is up to the challenge. The writing credits are actually quite promising (Zach Helm, Scott Rosenberg) (US: 26 Dec, UK: 3 Feb)
WW: $265m, US: $115m
More animation, about a koala putting on a singing completion, and duking it out with Moana. Universal is releasing this one, directed by Garth Jennings and produced by Despicable Me’s Chris Meledandri. (US: 21 Dec, UK: 22 Dec)
28. The Jungle Book
WW: $280m, US: $115m
It’s a toss up between Favreau’s The Jungle Book being this year’s over-produced, likely to plunge down the box office Pan, and Disney reintroducing a classic in the manner of last year’s live-action Cinderella. Or maybe somewhere in between. (15 April)
WW: $290m, US: $160m
There’s mucho-anticipation for Ryan Reynolds’ return as the merc with the mouth, but how much will that really materialise into box office? Juvenile comic book antics worked for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles two years ago, but that was rating friendly. Could be one where the Internet hype doesn’t garner the gross. (US: 12 Feb, UK: 10 Feb)
26. The Huntsman’s Winter War
WW: $295m, US: $110m
Snow White and the Huntsman was a medium-sized hit, so this sort-of prequel brings back Charlize (but no Kristen Stewart). Is the original one folks just happened to see but didn't really care that much for (like Angelina in Malificent)? The cast is strong, including a kick-ass Jessica Chastain, but I’m dubious there’ll be an uptick in audience. (22 April)
23. Pete’s Dragon
WW: $305m, US: $125m
The only surprising thing is this hasn't been remade sooner. This looks like a year for big creatures befriending wee bairns, although the might of Spielberg and Roald Dahl will surely get the lion’s share of the attention. David Lowry (Ain't them Bodies Saints) is certainly an interestingly left field choice to helm the picture. (12 Aug)
WW: $335m, US: $145m
The Ghostbusters fan base (I’ve never been that fussed by it) already appear to have sworn off this the all-female reboot courtesy of Paul Feig. So assuming it’s not going to tap into their nostalgia boat, it will be standing on its own two legs, which means it may perform closer to previous pictures from Feig, none having grossed more than $300m globally. (15 July)
WW: $345m, US: $135m
I don't honestly see how Doug Liman can turn in this picture in under a year, since he usually spends about six months in the editing suite before embarking on multiple bouts of reshoots. So I expect to hear this has been pushed back to early 2017 any time now. Channing Tatum has secured a director on something of a roll, getting behind his Cajun card-tosser, so making Gambit a suddenly more interesting prospect. But I doubt Fox has this one in the bag and it might not even get as high as the last solo Wolverine picture. (7 Oct)
WW: $360m, US: $145m
Disney’s second animation of the year, a strategy that left egg on Pixar’s face in 2015. South Pacific-set, this is Ron Clements and John Musker’s first movie since the (rather good) The Princess and the Frog, and their first computer generated animation. Never wise to bet against this duo, but unless it’s been as precision tooled as Frozen, Moana might get rather lost in the Christmas melee. It might also have a lack of instantaneous brand appeal working against it. (US: 23 Nov, UK: 3 Feb 2017)
21. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
WW: $370m, US: $145m
I don’t know if everyone who saw the 2014 reboot is crying out for more turtles, but they’re getting them all the same. I’ve got this $100m below the original, but it could well be one of those mystifying Transformers success stories, and go $500m+ (3 June)
WW: $400m, US: $120m
If Angels and Demons can do $500m globally, Tom Hanks’ rather lethargic hero is probably a no-brainer for a return, and both Hanks and (particularly) Ron Howard could do with a hit, although the former’s star-turn glory days may be over. Inferno leapfrogs over The Lost Symbol, but presumably Dan Brown’s core audience won’t care since they already had The Da Vinci Code before Angels. Hey, maybe this will be the first good Robert Langdon movie. No? (14 Oct)
19. Star Trek Beyond
WW: $410m, US: $190m
After a 2009 reboot with huge potential, Into Darkness rather skewered Star Trek’s crossover appeal, bogged down in riffing on past glories general audiences didn't care for and which simply enraged fans. Is the solution to cake Idris Elba in prosthetics and proffer us an alien planet-based, localised conflict? While the crew relationships look like a winner, the first trailer hasn't really sold this one as must-see. Paramount will be hoping it isn't the Insurrection of this still fledgling incarnation of the original crew. (22 July)
WW: $425m, US: $160m
Anthropomorphic animal cops in an animal city, vaguely inspired by the milieu of the humans-free 1973 Disney Robin Hood. Disney has been on a bit of a roll lately turning out (semi-) original animated movies, but how robust is the animation market this year? Can each of the contenders deliver $500m+ at the box office (which is survey what the studios concerned are aiming for)? The March release date might favor Zootopia. (US: 4 Mar, UK: 25 Mar)
WW: $495m, US: $165m
If you don't have an existing franchise sure-thing, buy one. Hence Angry Birds, hence Dreamworks’ other animation for 2016 (see below). Based on the toys, DW will be anticipating an audience ready and willing, regardless of quality. (US: 4 Nov, UK: 22 Oct)
16. Kung Fu Panda 3
WW: $525m, US: $135m
Dreamworks Animation has been on a back foot of late, to the concern of shareholders, with under performers including Home, Penguins of Madagascar, Mr. Peabody and Sherman and Turbo. Even relying on franchise properties has been no sure thing, as Penguins showed. Kung Fu Panda 2 made $665m back in 2011, and the original made $632m, but is this really awaited with baited breath? Is it in any way differentiated from the first sequel, which was barely differentiated from the original and barely expanded its audience? The late January slot might do it a few favours, though. (US: 29 Jan, UK: 11 March)
15. The BFG
WW: $530m, US: $165m
The Spiel-meister going for an overtly family movie, adapting much-loved Roald Dahl tale The Big Fucking Git. Hopefully this will be less Hook and more Tintin, but there’s a sense of passionless-but-solid plodding these days from the once vibrant ubermeister. Still, Mark Rylance. (US: 1 July, UK: 22 July)
14. X-Men: Apocalypse
WW: $560m, US: $155m
I’d be unsurprised if this doesn’t even make this much. Oscar Isaac’s villain looks naff, it lacks the hook of Days of Future Past, and Bryan Singer’s still operating with an aesthetic that was dated 15 years ago. Possibly the Spectre to Days’ Skyfall. (US: 27 May, UK: 19 May)
13. Suicide Squad
WW: $570m, US: $230m
This one’s chances might be seen as coming down to the potential of spin-offs, or non-mainstream superheroes and/or villains, but that was no impediment to Guardians of the Galaxy. The question is also the gritty approach (see also Rogue One), and whether David Ayer can pull off something really commercial. He certainly appears to have done very much his own thing, for box office better or worse. (5 Aug)
12. Alice Through the Looking Glass
WW: $605m, US: $155m
The original was enormously bolstered by the advent of 3D, Johnny Depp when he was (just about) still in vogue and… well, that’s about it. I’m dubious this will do half the business of Burton’s picture, since no one seems to be much demanding a revisit. The Wrath of the Titans of Alice movies? And does a Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator not seem inevitable at some point? (27 May)
11. The Secret Life of Pets
WW: $610m, US: $245m
Animated movies are generally a (relatively) safe bet, if not immediately then for repeat fees, but the dicey task of spawning a monster hit right out of the gate leads to a lot of safe plays and sequelitis. This Universal entry, concerning the shenanigans pets get up to when the owners are away, has huge potential if done right. Owners of children might well be as happy with it as their offspring. The only warning sign on the horizon is landing after Finding Dory and Angry Birds. If any of the trio give way, it will probably be the unknown quantity. (US: 8 July, UK: 24 June)
10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
WW: $620m, US: $255m
How high can Star Wars mania soar? I suspect, as spin-offs go, this will do better than Caravan of Courage, and The Clone Wars, but Rogue One is flying dark in terms of its non-Force, more grounded approach. If they build something good, multitudes will doubtless come, but hopefully there’s more to it than just getting hold of those boring old Death Star plans. (16 Dec)
9. Independence Day: Resurgence
WW: $625m, US: $275m
By rights, this should be a success of Jurassic World proportions. But… there’s no Will Smith, only a lesser Hemsworth. I wouldn’t underestimate the deficiency that represents, even given the nostalgia value of the 20 years on sequel (20 years, really?), particularly given the original wasn’t up to much in the first place (unless you were 12, maybe). It will undoubtedly have a massive first weekend, though. (24 June)
8. Doctor Strange
WW: $635m, US: $215m
This is a chance for Marvel to extend their all-enveloping tentacles in a creative fashion, but the choices (Benedict Cumberbatch, Scott Derrickson) suggest as much stricture as ever. Expect cosmic, but not crazy Ang Lee Hulk cosmic. Which is a pity, but playing safe will bolster the Marvel brand’s business. (US: 4 Nov, UK: 28 Oct)
7. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
WW: $645m, US: $255m
I don’t doubt this Potter spin-off will spell success, but on the same level? It’s very hard to say. Just on the level that these sorts of things rarely do quite as well, expectations should be tempered. Warner Bros will be praying though, after a 2015 of misfires. (18 Nov)
6. The Angry Birds Movie
WW: $685m, US: $305m
These franchise maybes are never certainties, but they at least illicit one-off interest. Smurfs went great guns first time out (not so much second) and the biggest app game there is, coupled with a wilfully anarchic tone, should at least spell a half a billion, unless it’s entirely wrong-footed. (US: 20 May, UK: 13 May)
5. The Bourne Legitimacy
WW: $775m, US: $300m
The only surprise would be if Bourne 4.1 isn’t any good, which just doesn’t seem likely from Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon. Assuming it is good, the anticipation nearly a decade on could make this even bigger than most are expecting. This could go higher, like Skyfall higher. (US: 29 July, UK: 28 July)
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
WW: $850m, US: $295m
Regardless of the fake review out saying this is great, and just for variety’s sake (well, relative variety, superhero studio vs superhero studio), it would be nice for DC to turn out something of a consistent high quality. But the trailers have garnered a mixture of mockery and fatigue, so it’s difficult to get a fix on where this will come in. If it’s really good, expect BvS to break a billion, otherwise, more of a Man of Steel response. (25 March)
3. Ice Age: Collision Course
WW: $865m, US: $145m
No one in the US appears to care much about Ice Ages, but internationally this is the most reliable animation series there is. Don’t bet against it. (US: 22 July, UK: 29 July)
2. Captain America: Civil War
WW: $1.1bn, US: $375m
There’s already James Gunn hyping this as amazing, although the trailer makes it look like the face-off (the civil war) occurs in a car park. Can the Russo brothers take it to the next level? Just the fact of Downey Jr and Spidey should guarantee this a billion-plus. (US: 6 May, UK: 29 April)
1. Finding Dory
WW: $1.2bn, US: $425m
Pixar revert to slumming it, sequelising a 13-year-old movie, but at least they are sequelising a really good 13-year-old movie. It is sure to make profuse amounts of money. (US: 17 June, UK: 29 June)
The 2015 Backwash
Once again, my insanely inaccurate 2015 predictions list has come home to roost.
1. Jurassic World
Actual: WW: $1,669m/ US: $652m
My Prediction (15th) WW: $460m/ US: $175m
I suggested: Even given kids’ love for dinosaurs, is this really providing anything exciting enough to provoke a stampede into cinemas?
The truth was: Yes, it was, despite being a picture as entirely formulaic and unremarkable as expected. I’m not as down on it as in some quarters, where it has assumed the status of the coming of the Anti-Christ, but I don’t think anyone, even the most wildly hopeful Universal execs (it wouldn’t have been a co-production if so) had the foresight this would happen. Who knew rudderless, formula-driven nostalgia was so potent? Who knew a competent (again, disputed in some quarters) but unremarkable director (Colin Trevorrow) would win the (second) biggest picture of the year on his second outing and scoop the treasured final chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy to boot? It’s a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a Twinkie.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Actual: WW: 1,536m / US: $652m
My Prediction: (1st) WW: $1.75bn, US: $600m
I suggested: This may well all end up a bit too whizz-bang flashy for its own good, the pseudo-mystical aspects of series being something Abrams will probably pay lip service to, and it may end up looking like a greatest hits package of Star Wars tropes.
Well, that much was true. Undoubtedly this will end up ruling the roost, and in a super-speedy time too. Its most impressive achievement is doing this during a decidedly less stratospheric time of the year for such business (but then, do such things mean much any more, outside of placing tentpoles in the summer as a tradition?) Will this be the shape of the franchise to come? Both previous Lucas trilogy starters saw a steep drop off, and it will be interesting to see how Rogue One fares at the end of the year. But, as it stands, this certainly confirms to Disney their Lucasfilm investment was more than sound.
3. Furious 7
WW: $1,515m/ US: $353m
My Prediction: (4th) WW: $855m/ US: $285m
I suggested: the too-soon demise of Paul Walker delayed a quick turnaround. For the bean counters, this no doubt provides an addition selling point to fans of the series
While I was correct that Furious 7 would be one of the biggest hits of the year (like, duh), this can be weighed against it grossing nearly double my prediction worldwide. A significant slice of that is thanks to China (albeit only 25% there goes back to the studio), where it out-grossed the US ($391m). Vin Diesel’s promise of a more down-to-earth, darker outing next time suggests further ballooning in series grosses may be out of reach (along with a hit for the Vin outside of the franchise).
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
WW: $1,405m/ US: $459m)
My Prediction: (2nd) WW: $1.5bn/ US: $550m
I suggested: I’m going conservative for Ultron, matching Avengers but not beating it; I fully expect it will be superior to the (pretty great) original, but whether it can replace novelty value with viewer devotion is a question that will also face Cameron when the first of his Avatar sequels arrives.
Pretty much in the right ballpark, give or take $100m (what’s $100m between $1bn grossers?) Where I was outright wrong, and a big factor in Ultron’s relative under-performance, was that it was inferior to Avengers, over-stuffed and without the necessary spark of originality (despite Paul Bettany’s Vision) to make it fresh. One wonders if there will be hindsight that this was something of a turning point for Marvel, that they over-balanced in favour of machine-processed movies and it affected the gross. On the other hand, Civil War has Spider-Man. Spider-Man!
WW: £1,157m, US: £336m
My Prediction: (7th) WW: $615m/ US: $175m
I suggested: are the cutesy supporting characters as important as the main attraction? And there’s a strong risk of diminishing returns here.
Yep, I was way off base. Unlike Penguins of Madagascar and Puss in Boots (DreamWorks basically) Universal made their spin-off an even bigger hit than the main feature that spawned it. Like Furious 7, it made almost double what I anticipated. The lovability of the Minions knew no bounds (merchandising sales probably dwarfed even the picture’s success), making it a bigger hit than prestige fare like…
6. Inside Out
WW: $856m/ $356m
My Prediction: (20th) WW: $415m/ US: $155m
I suggested: Maybe Pete Docter’s (Monsters Inc, Up) latest will persuade as a movie in a way it doesn’t as a trailer, but it currently conjures visions of a cross between Herman’s Head and Osmosis Jones.
Ouch. Betting on The Good Dinosaur against this seems the height of foolishness now. The key here was quality (if only it were always so simple, see Jurassic World above). Critics loved the picture’s insight into the mechanisms of the mind and kids and adults recognised universal truths and experiences. A shoe-in for Best Animated Feature Oscar, but more importantly this might hopefully give Pixar the confidence to rely less heavily on sequels in future (although given their slate, that may take a while).
WW: $865m/ $198m
My Prediction: (3rd) WW: $1.1bn/ US: $275m
I suggested: Like Ultron, I would expect an easy equalling of its predecessor’s gross.
Alas, like Ultron, Spectre (not SPECTRE) proved a bit of a disappointment to most. To some it was a disaster of Jurassic World proportions (those who thought Jurassic World was a disaster). What it proved was that a billion-dollar Bond can’t be taken for granted, and also that the tendency of Eon to find a groove and stick to it will continue to bite them in the arse (see Quantum continuing the plot of Casino Royale, see Sam Mendes being persuaded to return). I was concerned too that the Spectre villainy would look woefully out of sync with Craig’s Bond and, while I enjoyed the picture for the most part, Christoph Waltz was undeniably an ill-fit for the Craig’s Bond brand of realism. Still, no one would call Spectre a failure, just the kind of success where the exponentially increasing costs of each instalment dictate a bit more producer acumen re where they’re taking the series and how they’re taking it there.
8. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
WW: $682m/ $195m
My Prediction: (9th) WW: $605m/ US: $165m
I suggested: The danger will be if it’s merely decent rather than awesome.
I wondered whether director Christopher McQuarrie could handle big spectacle the way Paramount’s franchise needed. As it turned out he could, and then some. Maybe not with showy flourish, but with cool precision. It was shifted from a December release date, where Mission might have got lost in a year crowded with spy pictures (coming after Spectre and rubbing up against The Force Awakens would certainly have done it no favours, so the move was shrewd). Like Vin and FF, this is the Cruiser’s only sure bet these days, but with this following Ghost Protocol’s success, the series is back on a fast track; 6 is due in 2017.
9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II
WW: $636m/ US: $275m
My Prediction: (5th) WW: $850m/ US: $335m
I suggested: Will the drab, so-so, not much happens content of Mockingjay Part 1 adversely affect Part 2?
It seems it did. Even though there was some nominal gaming (more than Part 1 had), this finale didn’t really satisfy either the populist sensibility of the first two instalments or the political predilections of the third. As such, it failed where the Harry Potters and Twilights did not, in sustaining and building interest until the end.
10. The Martian
WW: $596m/ US: 226m
My Prediction: (30th) WW: $295m/ US: $115m
I suggested: Of the 12 (Ridley Scott) releases since (and including) Gladiator, seven have made more than $200m worldwide, so this is at least likely to be the eighth.
I certainly underestimated The Martian’s success, but to be fair I doubt anyone foresaw it doing half a billion worldwide and becoming (in unadjusted terms at any rate) the biggest hit of Sir Ridders’ career. It has been much venerated as a case of Scott picking a great script, but I don’t honestly think it’s all that, showing the same kind of failings that litter most of his work. On the other hand, it has an easy grasp of punch-the-air moments and more emotional accessibility than much of his output, so in that capacity it’s easy to understand why it’s jostling with Gladiator as his movie that has found a place in the public consciousness.
11. Fifty Shades of Grey
WW: $571m/ US: $166m
My Prediction: (18th) WW: $450m/ US: $140m
I suggested: Of course, it could end up being laughably bad, in which case no one will show (although that didn’t stop Twilight).
Pretty much it, really. (Not quite that laughably) bad and female viewers still flocked to it. With Furious and Minions, 50 Shades cemented Universal’s 2015 success story. Added to which, it came cheap ($40m) and made a big bang (ahem) for their buck. I wouldn’t even count on the general antipathy towards the picture denting the sequel(s) chances, as there’s enough gossip about Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan (they hate each other!) and sufficient time will have passed (it will be 2017) to muster interest once more.
WW: $543m/ US: $201m
My Prediction: (21st) WW: $405m/ US: $135m
I suggested: If the princess market is impervious to the need to be even a wee bit good, this might add $200m to the estimate.
I hasten to add, I wasn’t suggesting it wouldn’t be (a wee bit good), just that Sir Ken is no sure thing as a director. As it turned out, Cinderella was extremely well received, but maybe a touch too by-the-book to break through the glass slipper on potential grosses. Certainly, Disney has a sure touch on adapting fairy tales where others (Pan) are coming a cropper attempting to muscle in on the same market.
WW: $519m/ US: 180m
My Prediction: (12th) WW: $545m/ US: $165m
I suggested: Ant-Man is certainly fortunate to be landing in an environment where it has been proved comedy can work in the Marvel-verse, but it will need to do extra well to banish the spectre of Wright.
Perhaps I was wrong, as I thought anything under $600m globally will be considered a failure when most agree it has become a Marvel sleeper hit (if such a thing is possible). I do think, though, given the legacy of shrinker movies, of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Fantastic Voyage, it had the potential to be bigger than it was, had it been more than merely pedestrian but agreeable. No one really dislikes Ant-Man, but how many are going to rate it the best of the Marvel-verse? It’s suited to bland funny man star Paul Rudd in that regard, when he’s thrown into Anchorman. It’s to Ant-Man’s benefit that it came in relatively cheap, but it’s still their lowest grosser since Phase 1 got fully underway.
14. San Andreas
WW: $474m/ $155m
My Prediction: (43rd) WW: $185m/ US: $70m
I suggested: Yeah, earthquake movies do well. Just like volcano movies. And Rock movies do too. Brad Peyton gives it the 3D boost, but will it become another Journey 2?
The moral is clearly not to underestimate Brad Peyton, who got Journey 2, also with Dwayne Johnson to $300m+ three years ago. It’s that right place, right time thing, as there isn’t anyone acclaiming San Andreas, and in a couple of years it will be forgotten the way Volcano and Dante’s Peak have been, if not sooner. But, as far as disposable popcorn disaster movies go, this one flew under the radar and gave WB a much-needed boost.
15. Terminator: Genisys
WW: $441m/ US: $90m
My Prediction: (13th) WW: $475m/ US: $120m
I suggested: Genisys should open fine, but it’s all about the international box office for this one, and even then it needs not to suck.
China brought T5 a quarter of its gross (something Mad Max would have loved if it had garnered a release there), but it still wasn’t enough to tip it into a green light for a sequel. Maybe if it had been greeted with acclaim rather than opprobrium things would have been different, but this is the worst received fifth instalment in an ‘80s franchise since Die Hard 5. A disaffecting mess of bad CGI, miscasting and daft scripting, the one consolation is that it can join the ranks of the previous two mediocre sequels to a franchise that probably should never have been. For which the long-absent Jim Cameron is to blame.
16. Hotel Transylvania 2
WW: $456m/ US: $168m
My Prediction: (24th) WW: £370m/ US: $120m
I suggested: This is more Rio 2 territory than kids screaming for more.
Probably not so far wrong, and yet HT2 eked out a solid gross to the tune of $80m more WW than the original and in so doing bucked the downward trend of Adam Sandler fare. It’s the quiet ones you have to watch, as there was no great fanfare or anticipation for its release but it has become the third biggest animation of the year. HT3 is a fait accompli.
17. Kingsman: The Secret Service
WW: $414m/ US: 128m
My Prediction: (50th) WW: $165m/ US: $55m
I suggested: I’m doubtful, even with a kick-ass Colin Firth.
It didn’t seem propitious, relegated to a late January slot and given an R rating. And the finished movie, while frequently brilliant and dazzling, is also coarse and uneven. That must have been exactly what viewers responded to, though, a picture that appeared to be doing something different, even if it didn’t always succeed. Vaughn, in leaving X-Men behind, has made the biggest hit of his career. While I’m interested to see the sequel, I’d rather he continued doing different things.
WW: $386m/ US: 177m
My Prediction: (23rd) WW: $375m/ US: $120m
I suggested: If this one scores, it will probably be the luck of the March release slot, which has served DreamWorks well in the past (The Croods) and also not so well (Mr Peabody & Sherman).
Fairly accurate, although the international uptake was less than the US. Unlike Minions and Inside Out, kids weren’t clamouring for this, just content to have something to pass the early spring weeks. It joins the ranks of lacklustre DreamWorks performers.
19. Mad Max: Fury Road
WW: $376m/ US: $154m
My Prediction: (10th) WW: $550m/ US: $175m
I suggested: Outside of genre fans and Comic Con, is there an audience for the rebirth of Mad Max?
I also commented that, if word of mouth was as ecstatic as it was for the trailer, this could bounce up towards the $700m mark. While it was, Max’s performance ended up being something of a disappointment. Yet unlike T5, which made nearly $100m more, Max didn’t have China to line its coffers. Crucially, though, it has been critically lauded, the unheard of action movie appearing on Best of… year end lists. The result? Everyone wants a sequel, regardless of cost. It’s a shame this one didn’t catch on quite as it could, but its reputation and reach are only set to grow.
20. Taken 3
WW: $326m/ US: $89m
My Prediction: (29th) WW: $300m/ US: $115m
I suggested: Taken 2’s success was based on the warm reception for Taken. If 2 is any influence on this, there’ll be less interest in the third outing
Probably the best that could be hoped for the final chapter in a series that has been less than well-regarded since its reactionary first chapter wowed audiences. Liam Neeson’s still doing his unreconstitued sexagenarian action man thing elsewhere, but given this had Oliver Megaton hampering things, its performance was something of a miracle.
21. The Sponge Bob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
WW: $323m/ $163m
My Prediction: (37th) (WW: $220m/US: $125m)
I suggested: This just looks offputtingly odd as a live action CGI movie.
Evidently, I’m not down enough with the kids to know a sure thing when I see it, however aesthetically displeasing. Sponge Bob takes the animation Number 5 spot for 2015.
22. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
WW: $312m/ US: $82m
My Prediction: (16th) WW: $455m/ US: $135m
I suggested: Potentially, this could see the kind of jump Twilight (+$300m) or The Hunger Games (nearly +$200m) did between one and two, but it may be best to be cautious.
Post-Hunger Games, The Young Adult bubble hasn’t so much burst as become lodged in the blower. Maze Runner is doing a touch better than Divergent (and it’s significantly cheaper, which helps) but both are seeing worldwide grosses less than half of the YA big guns. It could be a while before anything breaks that big again.
23. The Divergent Series: Insurgent
WW: $297m/ $130m
My Prediction: (27th) WW: $325m/ US: $160m
I suggested: I’m guessing a small but notable uptick.
Not even that, which was assuming the original might gain the series fans. Since the next one looks like even more of the same, progressively dwindling returns are likely. This might be one where Lionsgate wishes they hadn’t split the finale into two.
24. Pitch Perfect 2
WW: $287m/ US: $184m
My Prediction: (63rd) WW: $110m/ $US: $60m
I suggested: Singing sequel.
Succinct, and to be fair I didn’t have a clue about just how much the original had caught on since its modest cinema showing. Pitch Perfect 3 is now a much prized thing.
WW: $260m/ $76m
Wasn’t under consideration due to being out in 2014 in the UK; what I’ll say is that its success was highly deserved, one of the most pleasant surprises in animation of late.
26. The Good Dinosaur
WW: $244m/US: 115m
(6) WW: $675m/ US: $245m
I suggested: traumatic birthing isn’t uncommon with Pixar (Brave), so the question is whether this will adversely affect its quality (I liked Brave, but it isn’t regarded as one of the studio’s triumphs) or inspired anthropomorphism will win the day.
I bet on the wrong Pixar, not realising quite how off-putting the dino and kid thing was. Generally, the dino thing is a safe bet, both in live action (Jurassic World) and animation (Land Before Time, Ice Age), but Disney seems to suck at it; previously the imaginatively titled Dinosaur was also an expensive underperformer. Still, Pixar’s back on the sequel boat next, so everything will be fine.
WW: $244m/ US: $79m
My Prediction: (14th) WW: $455m/ US: $225m
I suggested: shrewdly draws on ‘80s nostalgia and could spell a big family-sized hit…This could, of course, be the next Mystery Men, but it if so it won’t be for want of a marketable premise.
Another big ouch here. I don’t think anyone expected this to be quite the belly-up it was, an illustration that (voicing Dracula aside) Adam Sandler’s day as a box office champ may be over. That move to Netflix looks shrewd now.
WW: $236m/ US: $111m
My Prediction: (33rd) WW: $245m/ US: $165m
I suggested: Expect this to make a mint in the US, and be met with a shrug elsewhere.
Not quite. Its US appearance was slightly disappointing, and international contrastingly slightly better than expected (that would probably be the Stat). Given the generally positive notices, everyone’s probably surprised it didn’t go another $50-$100m more globally.
29. Ted 2
WW: $216m/ US: $81m
My Prediction: (8th) WW: $600m/ US: $225m
I suggested: I didn’t think much of Ted, but I can see very little preventing this becoming a big hit
And yet no one wanted to know, showing the vagaries of comedy hits. Audiences either only wanted to see Ted the once, decided they’d had enough of Seth McFarlane after A Million Ways to Die in the West, or got a whiff of Ted 2 just not being very good.
WW: $209m/ US: $93m
My Prediction: (26th) WW: $345m/ US: $135m
I suggested: How has original science fiction fared of late? Much of it has underperformed in terms of budget (Pacific Rim, Edge of Tomorrow, Elysium), irrespective of quality.
I hedged my bets and Tomorrowland and still went lower. One of the biggest bombs of 2015, Disney can at least nurse their wounds by reflecting it might have done even worse. Brad Bird’s left needing another big sequel, hence moving on to Incredibles 2.
31. The Peanuts Movie
WW: $205m/ US: $129m
My Prediction: (41st) WW: $200m/ US: $120m
I suggested: What’s the scope for something as 2D as this being turned 3D?
It has already exceeded my US estimate, but it will be interesting to see how well the very American cartoon/strip does internationally.
WW: $202m/ US: $43m
My Prediction: (49th) WW: $165m/ US: $65m
I suggested: Baltasar Kormakur leads Jake Gyllenhaal up a mountain in this based on fact tale. Will Jake make love to the mountain?
In the region of what might be expected; one wonders how much the cost-reward of this kind of thing is really figured in advance, but at $55m budget things will probably work out okay.
33. Straight Outta Compton
WW: $200m/ US: $161m
My Prediction: (77th) WW: $85m/ US: $75m
I suggested: F Gary Gray’s NWA biopic.
I was fairly close on the percentage this would make US/internationally, but needed to double my estimate, and then some. Another one that has helped make Universal’s year. And Ice Cube’s.
34. The Intern
WW: $194m/ US: $75m
My Prediction: (55th) WW: $125m/ US: $75m
I suggested: De Niro, as we all know, is a comedy legend.
The law of averages suggest De Niro will make a successful movie every so often, but this modest hit will be as forgotten as most of Nancy Myers’ pictures a year down the line.
35. Jupiter Ascending
WW: $184m/ US: $47m
My Prediction: (31st) WW: $260m/ US: $70m
I suggested: A lot of people may just find it silly, but without post-Guardians of the Galaxy self-awareness not in an endearing way.
Didn’t even make enough to be a disappointment. The Wachowskis need to find a big hit soon, or they’ll shut themselves off from big budget movie making and be stuck with Sense8 for all time.
36. Fantastic Four
WW: $168m/ US: $56m
My Prediction: (21st) WW: $400m/ US: $145m
I suggested: This could be a case of mixed signals proving unfounded when the first trailer appears, but I don’t think many have high expectations right now. If it doesn’t break $500m, the future of the franchise may be in question (with Fox at any rate).
Well, the sequel’s off. Who knows what will happen next, since this is pretty much the worst result Fox could have anticipated for an expensive ($120m) reboot. One of a number of pictures (see Jupiter Ascending) that managed to do even worse than low expectations suggested.
WW: $159m/ US: $54m
My Prediction: (35th) WW: $235m/ US: $115m
I suggested: I don’t doubt the public are dying to see a Will Smith movie they can get behind, but I’m dubious this is it.
A modest result from a modest-budgeted picture, it’s still the low end of what anyone would be hoping from the actor (it even made less than the atrocious Seven Pounds). The one to test whether Smith’s star wattage has gone away will be a blockbuster, and we may not get one of those for a few years yet (Suicide Squad doesn’t really count).
38. Bridge of Spies
WW: $146m/ US: $70m
My Prediction: (25th) WW: $365m/ US: $175m
I suggested: This is his fourth teaming with Hanks (the last being the unloved The Terminal) and probably the latter’s surest thing since he last played Robert Langdon
Surprisingly the Spiel-meister’s latest made less than either War Horse or Munich globally.
WW: $139m/ US: $110m
My Prediction: (107th) WW: $40m/ US: $25m
I suggested: Judd Apatow directs Daniel Radcliffe. The world awaits with baited breath.
Well, the US fell for Amy Schumer’s lead debut heavily, ending Judd Apatow’s dry spell convincingly. The classic case of a US comedy that doesn’t travel, though.
WW: $127m/ US: $35m
My Prediction: (17th) WW: $450m/ US: $135m
I suggested: I thought Maleficent would suck (it did) and tank (it didn’t) so I won’t call against this one.
Clearly I should have gone with my gut, but my comment stands. Who can tell? Perhaps, since this was a boys’ movie, and Pan hasn’t yielded a justified hit since the Disney version (let’s not even discuss Spielberg’s effort) it’s just not the valid property movie studios believe. Perhaps it was Jason Fuchs’ screenplay sucking, or Joe Wright not having a clue. Either way, it’s one of the year’s reigning stinkers.