The Summer 2016 box-office has come to a close with this year’s domestic haul in a dead heat with last year’s at around $4.48 billion, the second best showing behind 2013. Yet the total doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact Summer 2016 is going to be remembered mostly for the increasing gap between films soaring high or flopping badly – less and less seem to do just ‘well enough’.
Part of the issue was also the earlier part of Summer, namely late May & June, the headlines were dominated by a seemingly new flop each week. While the first quarter of the year saw box office up by 12.7%, the second quarter saw it down by 9.25%. However, July and August proved bumper months and have brought things back in line with revenue up by 16.25% so far for the third quarter.
Rising ticket prices though are covering for some of the damage. Admissions have dropped year-over-year from 531 million to approximately 500 million for the season – the second worst result in nearly twenty years. Part of that seems to be a lack of widespread viewing with modest hits giving way to either major successes or dismal failures.
No film ended up on the $200-300 million range domestically. In fact the lead four films – “Finding Dory” ($480m), “Captain America: Civil War” ($407m), “The Secret Life of Pets” ($353 million) and “Suicide Squad” which will pass $300 million by the end of long weekend – have a large margin above fifth place earner “X-Men: Apocalypse” at $155 million.
Disney is by far the dominant player. Even with three flops – “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “The BFG” and “Pete’s Dragon” – its hits were enough to make it the sole superpower with 26.5% of revenue, runner up Warner Bros. Pictures came in behind with 19.5%. Even more impressive? Disney did with over a dozen less films than Warners.
Flops were plenty with plenty of the fourteen sequels released like “Jason Bourne,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Ghostbusters,” “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” and “Ice Age: Collision Course” disappointing – much of that being due to solid revenue not coming close to matching their costly budgets.
What did work? Horror as both “The Purge” and “The Conjuring” scored successful follow-ups while “Don’t Breathe,” “The Shallows” and “Lights Out” all fared very well. Counter-programming comedies like “Central Intelligence,” “Bad Moms” and “Sausage Party” all turned tight budgets into profitable alternatives to big-budget fare.
Year-to-date revenues stand at $7.94 billion, a 4.68% improvement on last year and headed towards potentially the biggest domestic box-office year to date.