In a summer where the box office took a steep18.5% dive in receipts most of the focus will be on the flops or losers if you will. And while there were some disappointments for sure, this summer saw some Wonder-ful surprises, individual box office records and a refreshing revival of indie films as well.
While franchise fatigue kept some from buying a ticket, there were a few movies from this past summer season that had people excited to go to the movies again.
Here are the winners…
A clear winner (figuratively and vehemently) this summer was WB’s Wonder Woman. Not only did the Patty Jenkins directed film finish the summer #1 at the box office it’s message of hope and love swept over the world like a storm. Early tracking had this film finishing in the $625 million worldwide range, as of this writing, it is now over $800 million with roughly half of that total coming from North America, and counting. I won’t get into why it’s performed well over expectations, that’s a whole other article, but it has to do in large part with timing. An increase in a female dominated audience, better than average repeat viewership (thanks to high RT score) and a theme which runs counter to the current cynicism and ugliness of the world all combined to make this a phenomenon.
It stayed in the top 10 for nine weeks and made over $1 million per day for 45 straight days which puts it in very good company all time.
Finishing 10th this summer at the domestic box office with $100 million and counting is the Edgar Wright indie hit Baby Driver. On only a $34 million budget this car heist music infused action comedy is far and away Writght’s biggest hit likely upping his stock in a major way. This likely means, should he choose that path, that he won’t be considered “indie” any longer and will get a shot at a big budget big studio release. It doubled its opening weekend predictions and showed good legs earning minimal weekly drops (in the 30 percentile) and staying the top 10 for five weeks. The much hyped soundtrack, unique narrative and impressive stunt driving wowed audiences to an A- CinemaScore and is one of the best reviewed movies of the year.
Audiences appreciated the earnestness and vibrancy of an original film, something of a rarity during the summer season. Here’s hoping that Wright’s career continues on an upwards trajectory and keeps giving us fun original films for those of us looking for alternatives to the conventional summer fare.
The Big Sick
The Big Sick is not only one of the best reviewed films of the year (98% on RT) but also earned the highest per screen average of the year with an $84,000 average in limited release. The Kumail Nanjiani biopic was a hit when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in the year and word of mouth spread fast. When it was officially released in June people were already on board praising its honest approach to family, relationships and inclusivity. It slowed a bit when into wide release but it has made household names of Nanjiani and co-star Zoe Kazan. To date the film has earned $43 million (86% of that domestically) and on a trim budget of $5 million it’s turning a profit for Amazon, who also paid $12 million for the distribution rights.
While other indie dramas such as The Beguiled, Ghost Story and Detroit failed to grab an audience, this heartwarming “rom-com” with its simple clear message did. Nanjiani in particular will most likely be able to pick his next project and Judd Aapatow producing will likely be the resurgence of his return to comedy features.
Director Malcom D. Lee’s all female R-rated comedy Girls Trip starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Queen Latifah finished just outside of the top 10 and managed $100 million and counting in North America. For a film that cost $19 million to make this is one of rare summer return to forms when comedy used to rule the roost. Favorable reviews (A+ CinemaScore) kept this thing alive when most would’ve died long before. The film is still in the weekly top ten as of this writing so it still has legs and should be around for a few more weeks with great word of mouth. There’s really nothing to point to other than it’s a breath of fresh air after the similar yet disappointing Rough Night and in a summer of mostly dour cinema, laughing is indeed the best medicine. With an audience comprised of nearly 80% female, it seems this was the Wonder Woman alternative for those not interested in high drama/action genre.
It seems most of the credit is going to superstar producer Will Packer who seems to have a magic touch with previous releases such as Straight Outta Compton and the Ride Along films and his future is secure with Universal. In fact, Packer has had eight #1 opening weekends and over $1 billion collectively in box office returns.
What may have seemed like a sure thing on the surface, Spider-Man: Homecoming had some people a little uneasy. After all this is the 6th Spider-Man movie overall and the third version of Peter Parker following what many considered an abysmal failure with the Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man movies a few years ago. Thanks to Marvel’s involvement and a brief but successful debut for Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War, Homecoming opened to a very good $117 million opening weekend and a very strong critical embrace (92% on RT). Most place it above Sam Rami’s Spider-Man 2 and Tom Holland for many is now the definitive Peter Parker.
It is currently well over $700 million worldwide and remained in the top 10 for eight weeks. And while the box office gross may fall short of projections, the real victory is that Spidey’s future is secure with 2 more standalone sequels and Spidey’s inclusion into the Avengers: Infinity War films.
So that’s the winners, but what about the losers? That’s up next!
Till next time…