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Friday, January 6, 2017

2016 Winners and Losers

Winners:

Walt Disney Pictures. Disney had a banner year, and I mean banner. The top 3 movies of 2016 are all Disney titles, and 6 of the top 10. Disney was the fastest studio to hit $1 billion dollars, with 37 days to spare, and owned a 26.4% market share, so far. Disney's $3 billion haul is the largest ever for a studio. Disney has made full use of their purchases of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, and it's paying dividends with Finding Dory, Doctor Strange, Civil War, and Rogue One, which still hasn't finished its run. It also doesn't hurt that Walt Disney Animation Studios has become a powerhouse with back to back smashes this year in Zootopia and Moana. Oh yeah, and Jungle Book.

A Madea Halloween. I know, I know, what an odd choice for a "winner", but hear me out. A Madea Halloween was the first Madea movie since 2013. The Madea brand had seemed to have been on the decline after the obvious peak in 2009. Shticks get old quick and 3 years of no Madea was enough time for the brand to fade, but it didn't. A Madea Halloween played strong and finished with $73 million, which is the 2nd highest total for a Madea movie. What's even more shocking is Tyler Perry was able to do this with the Halloween theme. A Madea Halloween also had the 2nd best legs for a Madea movie. That's a winner in my book.

Deadpool. This is probably the most obvious one. This movie wouldn't have even been made if it wasn't for fans going rabid over leaked footage. And then when it was given the greenlight, many still saw Deadpool as C-list at best and didn't think he could break the mainstream glass. Well, he did. Deadpool broke records left and right: biggest February opening, Winter opening, and R-rated opening. Deadpool wasn't able to pass Jesus, but still, number 2 for all time R-rated is pretty nice, considering R-rated movies have been getting less and less blockbuster attention by the studios.

Suicide Squad. This movie was everything we didn't want it to be. A bloated, studio-manufactured, CGI fest, and an incoherent and tonal mess to top it all off. Yet, we still had fun with it. After reviews came out, Suicide Squad's run was looking to shake up to a disaster, but it still managed to muster up $325 million domestic, which is just a few mil below Guardians of the Galaxy and $745 million worldwide. Suicide Squad stumbled out of the gate, but found pretty good later legs. It didn't have the best multiplier, but for a release that could have easily fallen off of a cliff, it came out fine in the end.

Trolls. As with Madea and R-rated blockbusters, DreamWorks was supposedly on the way out. Then came Home. But Home could have easily been a fluke. Well it wasn't. Trolls assured that DreamWorks still has some staying power left. Trolls also wins because it ended up not being as absurd as the teaser trailer made you believe. From what I hear, Trolls is actually enjoyable.

Bad Moms. "STX? Who dat?" "Mila Kunis leading? Okay." "Katherine Hahn? Oh, the crazy lady from Step Brothers. Yeah, sure." "Kristen Bell? I mean yeah she's cool, but whatever." Bad Moms could have easily fell on it's face like Hot Pursuit did, yet it ended up being the Bridesmaids of the year, grossing $113 million domestic on a modest $23 million opening, and a little over $170 million worldwide. What a surprise this movie's reception was. Next up: Bad Dads, Bad Aunts, Bad Siblings, and Bad Sleezy Uncle Who Always Asks Where You Got Your Shoes Then Asks You To Let Him Hold Some Money at the Family Dinner.

Purge: Election Year. Are we not tired of the Purge fad yet? Guess not. Election Year managed to become one of the rare threequels that increases over its predecessors. Universal keeps finding a way to reinvent the Purge concept, and it's showing at the box office.

Sausage Party. Sausage Party couldn't pass $100 million in the end, but it came close at $97 million. R-rated animation is rare. It's rare because it's super niche. Sausage Party was able to break out of the niche and have a respectable run. Sausage Party was met with some controversy and mixed WOM which may have been enough to halt the $100 million train, but for an R-rated animated movie about a foul-mouthed hot dog wiener with gloves, $97 million is more than successful.

Don't Breath. This movie had a quiet, yet leggy fall run, falling $1 million short of $90 million, and managing to gross another $20 million or more than similar recent horrors. Like the concept of the movie, Don't Breath's run was pretty quiet, but its staying power deserves attention.

Hell or Highwater. Only one movie could make West Texas look so cool, and it was this one. Hell or Highwater was a refreshing, intimate surprise and legged its way through the late-Summer. While it didn't put up blockbuster numbers, it definitely is one of the best movies of the year and succeeded in finding an audience.

10 Cloverfield Lane. This movie managed to make only $8 million less domestic than the original Cloverfield, even though it had no monster, no New York City (or any city for that matter), no found footage, no decapitated Statue of Liberty money shot, and no anticipation as no one knew it was coming until like a week before. That's a winner.

Lights Out. James Wan knows two things: horror, and how to keep the horror cheap. He did that with Lights Out and while its $67 million domestic gross isn't Earth shattering on its own, for a recent supernatural horror, that's pretty good. Add in overseas and you get a worldwide total of $148 million. The budget you ask? $4.9 million. That's a staggering ROI for Warner Brothers and Mr. Wan.

Losers:

Batman vs Superman. This movie should have blown past $400 million domestic and $1 billion worldwide with ease. And I mean ease. Grossing that is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but for the world's two most recognizable superheroes, in a time when superhero movies are at a zenith, in their first ever cinematic meeting? Yeah, it should've happened. Yet Warner Brothers meddled in the production and Zack Snyder delivered a mediocre product. This movie tried to do too much: introduce Batman, dig deeper into Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane (who again is too much of a plot convenience), shoehorn Wonder Woman, shoehorn Doomsday, dose down on an awful Luthor, while trying to be sleek, edgy, rough, polished, and sexy all at once. It didn't work.  What exactly was Holly Hunter's role again? Oh I totally forgot about the wheelchair guy. Ah, the jar of pee. Don't remember much about it other than that's a pretty gross metaphor.

BvS still grossed a respectable $330 million, but that's less than Guardians, which was an unknown property that was headlined by a talking raccoon. That's $5 million more than Suicide Squad. Even with 9 years of inflation, that's less than Spider-Man 3, which the internet is still making fun of. And that 27% RT score is unacceptable, no matter how you spin it. Batman, Superman, and the DC brand should be fine in the long run, and I'm sure Warner sold plenty of Batman bedspreads at Target, but you can't help but wonder what really could have been.

Allegiant. This franchise is so bad, it's getting tossed to TV. And not the good part of TV either. As far as I'm aware, no network has agreed to air it yet. Take this L, Lionsgate.

Sequels Trying to Recapture Magic. There's nothing wrong with sequels, but Hollywood is still doing them all wrong. Sequels are either coming out way too late, ala Zoolander 2, Independence Day Resurgence (20 years!), Bad Santa 2, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Greek Wedding 2, or we didn't need a sequel in the first place, ala Now You See Me 2, Neighbors 2, and Ride Along 2, and all those other sequels I just mentioned.

Jason Bourne posted a nice $162 million, but adjusted and unadjusted, it's a fall from grace. Star Trek's $158 million ranks 15th for the year, but it's still a hefty drop. X-Men Apocalypse lost its way. And Kung Fu Panda 3 didn't really make any headlines, even with the reveal of Po parents. While it's wrong to call these movies "losers" in terms of individual performance, they didn't manage to bring their respective franchises back to the spotlight.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. I know the internet thinks the first movie is horrid, but audiences obviously enjoyed it after it grossed a surprise $191 million in August 2014. Looks like audiences had short memory as the sequel dropped very harshly. Turtles 2 was only able to capture $82 million, a 57% drop from the first. As the wise Chris Tucker says "damn, he gonna be in Turtles 3."

Huntsman: Winters War. Either Kristen Stewart has a really good agent, or Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, and Emily Blunt have bad ones. Like the vast majority of 2016 sequels, Winters War couldn't capture any major and fell flat on it's face. $48 million with that budget, cast, and marketing? Ouch. That's a 69% drop, even worse than Turtles. At least no one's making fun of this movie like they should be.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Maybe my expectations were too high? Okay, they were, but look: this movie was coming off the heels of red hot modern war movies American Sniper, Lone Survivor, and Act of Valor. Also, this movie was releasing during Hillary Clinton's presidential run, where Benghazi had been a focal point. CNN, Fox News, Twitter, you name it, Americans were still demanding answer for Benghazi.

And to top it off, America lately has been its most patriotic since 9/11. Look at American Sniper and Lone Survivor, the kneeing controversy, political attitudes, and the election aftermath for proof. Plus, Michael Bay and explosions. So why couldn't 13 Hours capitalize on all of this? Well the 50% RT score didn't help, but 13 Hours still landed a 83% audience score regardless. Expecting an American Sniper 2 levels was too much, but with everything going for it, a $53 million total is just too, too low.

Zach and Zac. Our pal "Alan" shot into the A-list after The Hangover, suddenly becoming one of Hollywood's leading comedy men. The Hangover franchise, The Campaign, Due Date, Puss in Boots. He was suddenly left and right. Well 2016 was not kind as he suffered not one, but two cringe-worthy flops as a leading man with Masterminds and Keeping Up With The Joneses, which had the 8th worst opening ever for 3,000 screens. Are people sick of Galifiankis? Personally, I say no. I'm sure he'll provide a better Joker in Lego Batman than Leto could, and he'll be a part of A Wrinkle in Time which irons out next year. And hey, his "Between Two Ferns" with Hillary Clinton was still funny.

Efron was given three leading roles last year, and none of them made a dent in the box office. While Neighbors 2 isn't really on him, Dirty Grandpa and Mike and Dave were pretty come and go. Efron is obviously still a popular dude, and Baywatch should suit him much better, but he's still not making the noise you'd think he'd be capable to make.

Gods of Egypt. I honestly wanted to put this in "not full losers" (see below) since no one was expecting anything from this other than Lionsgate. Still, the budget was ridiculously high and this movie was ridiculously laughable. When your action-adventure is taken as a comedy, and when you spend $140 million on something that looks like it cost $60 million, well, you have to take a tub full of L's. So many L's, you could drown in them. More like "L-ionsgate."

Alice Through the Looking Glass. I know I already mentioned this, but I just had to highlight the fact that this movie dropped a whopping 77% from Wonderland. So for every 10 people that went to go see Wonderland, 7.7 of them didn't come back. That turnover rate is higher than Walmart's. And that's not sarcasm, I actually looked that up.

Sure Wonderland was 6 years old, was aided by 3D at its apex, and starred Johnny Depp before he went deep, but lord, 77% and a $257 domestic drop (we won't even mention worldwide)? That has to be a record. I'm calling it a record.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Ah Billy Lynn, you thought you were gonna escape this. Nope. Billy Lynn was looking to be a major awards player, but that quickly faded during the festival circuit. Hype for Billy Lynn and the 120FPS format died, and a movie that was supposed to play out strong through the holidays, ended up with a botched released, the 25th worst opening for a film on over 1,000 screens, and a 76% second weekend drop. Billy Lynn has only grossed $1.7 million domestic. Maybe it should've been Billy Lynn's Standing National Anthem. Get it?...

Wide Release FlopsRules Don't Apply (6th), Morgan (8th), and Max Steele (14th) were pretty terrible all time openers for a movie in at least 2,000 theaters. Hardcore Henry had the 5th worst opening of all time for a movie in 3,000+ and probably did more harm than good in trying to start the "VR" genre. And The Bounce Back, whatever that is, had the 3rd worst ever opening in wide release aka 600 theaters. And while Green Room is supposedly good, we have to mention it, at number 16 and The Bronze at 13. So, yeah.

Birth of a Nation. I'm not going to dive into this one much other than it had potential, but that potential was pretty much squandered. It couldn't even beat a movie called Middle School that wasn't even appealing to current middle schoolers. Netflix dodged the biggest L of the year after they offered $20 million for it, but lost out.

Inferno. Inferno lost 74% of Angels and Demons' audinece, which had already lost 38% of Da Vinci Code's audience. Do the math and Inferno lost 84% of Da Vinci Code's audience in 10 years. And that's just unadjusted gross, not ticket sales. That's a capital L.

Mixed:

Ghostbusters. Let's be real, this movie was never given a fair chance. This movie was so alt-righted that we broke control Q. Did having an all female cast really hurt the gross? Probably not, but I don't think it helped either. Either way, the whole hoopla that this movie had to endure was ridiculous. In terms of success, I think we expected too much. Expectations were lofty because it had "Ghostbusters" in the name, but we forget the last Ghostbusters movie came out back in the 80's, which is a lot longer ago than it sounds like. Ghostbusters' $128 million pull is respectable, but the $229 worldwide pull is not. Ghostbusters came and went, and the feminists and meninists have finally stopped bludgeoning each other. Now this movie can finally rest in peace, until it's time for FX to exhume it out of the grave.

Passengers. Predictions were wayyy too lofty with this one, but even with Jennifer Lawrence's waning it-girl status, the combination of JLaw and Pratt, the release date, and the track record of recent sci-fi space movies, this movie could have cleared $150 million. I'm saying mixed because it's obvious reviews hurt it, plus Rogue One stole much of the sci-fi crowd. Passengers is still shaping up to have a decent run when it's all said and done, all things considered. And besides, this movie will definitely be overplayed on FX by 2019.

Faith based adaptions. While Miracles From Heaven was able to keep the Christian-targeted film train running with $61 million domestic, God's Not Dead 2 fell flat, only able to get $20 million in the collection plate - a 67% drop from God's Not Dead's $60 million haul in 2014. Risen also wasn't the next Passion, but to be fair, it was never in position to be.

Not full winners, but on the winning side:

Legend of Tarzan. Many movie buffs were rooting for this to fail, for whatever reason. Well, Tarzan stuck it to them. While still not a "box office success" thanks to its high budget, Tarzan played well throughout the summer with a surprising $126 million finish. Nothing earth shattering, but that's much more than the $40-70 million many were expecting this to leap into.

Sully. Hanks still has it. You'd think Sully was automatic to be successful with Hanks and Eastwood, but the Hudson River miracle didn't look that dramatic on paper, and Hanks didn't have any handicap he had to battle throughout the movie, unlike Denzel battling alcoholism, drug abuse, dead passengers, too many side characters, and lawsuits in Flight. Didn't matter. Sully had an impressive Fall run, and impressed audiences and critics alike.

The Angry Birds Movie. This movie was incredibly boring, incredibly stupid, and had pretty terrible legs for an animated kids movie, but!...it was still based on a smartphone app, and managed to pull in $350 million worldwide on a modest budget. There aren't many apps in the App Store that could do that. Maybe "Goat Simulator" and Tinder. That's about it.

The Shallows. I honestly can't put my finger on exactly why I think this belongs here. Maybe considering this could have easily been a laughable, MTV quality movie. Yet, it wasn't. The last 10 minutes alone were more thrilling than anything you'll ever see on Teen Mom. Okay the whole movie was. Blake Lively staring at sand > Teen Mom. While expectations for Shallows were modest, I think this movie still passed them in reviews, in delivery, and in box office. Plus $119 million worldwide on a $17 million budget. Cash out. 

Not full losers, but on the losing side:

The Girl on the Train. I had to put this here because it was clear this was expected to be the next Gone Girl by most everyone. And it seemed to be heading in that direction too before it derailed (come on, you knew a train pun was coming). Instead, a $75 million finish. Less than half of Gone Girl, but nonetheless, fine on its own.

Assassins Creed. I know you're thinking Assassin's Creed, or Ass Creed as the locals call it, should be in the full loser column, but, it's a video game movie, that directly adapted the video game. Even with that budget, what did we expect? The narrative is still alive and well. It's not a loser to me, because I was never expecting big things to begin with, but it's even farther from a winner because Fox couldn't help but make the same mistake yet again that studios continue to make with video game films. Now do you get why Mario is locked under ten feet of steel and poison gas?

Warcraft. Another movie where much shouldn't have been expected. Yeah the budget was huge and the studio went all out with the marketing, but we see this story every single year. Nothing new. The year before it was Jupiter Ascending. This year it's Valerian. At least Warcraft had China to help stop the bleeding.

Ben-Hur. It feels off to call this one a loser considering Paramount never really tried with it in the first place. Plus, this was so harmless. It was like a lady bug.

Storks. I just can't help but be disappointed at Storks' run. Only $72 million. Considering this was the year of talking animals - Finding Dory ($486 million), Secret Life of Pets ($368 million), Zootopia ($341 million), Sing (will finish over $200 million), Kung Fu Panda 3 ($143 million), and Angry Birds ($107 million), Storks pales in comparison. Plus, those cute babies. Come on, man. Ice Age 5 did worse, but...it's Ice Age 5.

Not a loser, but damn we get it:

Office Christmas Party. For how many times I had to sit through the TV, radio, and Spotify spots for this during the month of December, you would've thought this was going to be the next Force Awakens. Should've been, shouldn't it?.

Some 2017 movies to look out for:

Here are some movies releasing this year that could easily teeter into either column. Power Rangers, Wonder Woman, Kong: Skull Island, Justice League, The Mummy, Jumanji (already losing thanks to people crying over Karen Gillan's outfit), Baywatch, Dreamworks, King Arthur, Alien: Covenant, Saw: Legacy, Marvel, Snatched, and Dunkirk.

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