25 August 2016

Summer 2016 in Review Part II: LOSERS and Bad Burritos

Earlier this week we discussed all the Winners of Summer 2016, which can be easily summed up as Animated Films, Horror Films, and Captain America: CIVIL WAR (2016). Now for the much more fun part - the losers. And there are quite a few of them. This summer seemed notable for its continuous string of failures. Most of these had a smaller net gross than those on the Winning List, but there's quite a bit of difference when you're budget is $17 million vs. $175 million. Now, many of these films made their budget back, but that's not really the only way we can judge cinematic failure. Some of these just didn't reach the heights of their predecessors (since 9/14 are sequels), or perhaps did well overseas, but just didn't get the spark going domestically. In fact, almost all of these elicit that reaction of "Oh yeah, that came out this year, didn't it?" Well, not only this year, but like three months ago. That's rough.


X-Men: Apocalypse

Budget: $178 Million
Domestic Gross: $155 million
Worldwide Gross: $541 million

Now, it's odd to call $541 million a failure the same way that people weirdly piled on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) for grossing $200 million more than Man of Steel (2013). But the real stinger here is how relatively weak this flick was compared to the other X-men films. This was supposed to be the culmination of that universe - finally the biggest of all bads, Apocalypse on the big screen. The issue, of course, is that Thanos (and even Darkseid at this point), has had more of a build-up, Days of Future Past (2014) already felt like both the culmination and a nice bow to the universe, and generally the film sucked. While it's the #3 X-movie worldwide, it came about $200 million short of Days of Future Past, and more importantly, $240 million short of Deadpool (2016). Deadpool! How did this happen.


Budget: $144 million
Domestic Gross: $124 million
Worldwide Gross: $208 million

I think I've finally come around to stop defending this film. I wanted it to be good so bad to shut up the anti-women haters out there, but we need to face facts - this was a monumental bungling. To be fair, it's about right where a Paul Feig film should be, except a budget double that of its most comparable analogue, SPY (2015) is problematic. I might say it's at least made a significant cultural impact, at least due to its completely unwarranted controversy, although it ultimately can't stand on any sort of critical level with the original. Then again, nothing can. Despite what SONY says, its cinematic failure can't be doubted and despite one of the more talented comedic casts in recent memory, it totally comes up short.

Independence Day: Resurgence

Budget: $165 million
Domestic Gross: $102 million
Worldwide Gross: $382 million

I'm not sure I'd even call this a really awful film necessarily, but it is certainly more of the same old shit and considering the original Independence Day has become a cultural landmark, regardless of arguments over its actual quality, and grossed triple what this thing did twenty years ago (and over double worldwide before that was really a thing that people cared about), there's no question that it came up drastically short of expectations. In 1996 this was THE movie to see. In 2016 it felt like just another whatever, crap, explosions, crap at the movie theater. That's less of an issue than people might think, because the marketing made it look cool. It just really was never something people wanted.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Budget: $135 million
Domestic Gross: $81 million
Worldwide Gross: $240 million

Speaking of films nobody wanted...here you go! I'll actually respect Out of the Shadows for doubling down on ridiculousness and embracing its inner camp and appeal to weird little boys. I probably would have loved this if it came out 25 years ago. It never caught on, possibly because although the first of these new reinstallments did pretty well financially, no one seems to have swell memories of that abomination. I wouldn't even mind more of the campy side of things, but the once nice thing about all these bombs is that all these franchises may finally be dead. Probably. Probably not, to be honest.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Budget: $170 million
Domestic Gross: $77 million
Worldwide Gross: $294 million

Here's where we start getting into the "unbelievably bad" section of films. How did Through the Looking Glass gross less than a third of its predecessor? Well, a disinterest in the novelty of 3D is a huge reason. Also, Alice in Wonderland (2010) was a clear aberration, even if its production design is pretty cool. No one has been waiting with baited breath on this one. There is no "Oh, I wonder where that story goes!?" or "I can't wait to see another wacky Johnny Depp whiteface character!" Through the Looking Glass was domestically outgrossed by The Purge: Election Year (2016). Let that settle in you for a bit.

Now You See Me 2

Budget: $85 million
Domestic Gross: $65 million
Worldwide Gross: $320 million

If only this was named Now You Don't. Does anyone remember Now You See Me (2013)? Do you remember how good that cast was? I always remember thinking, why are all these great actors in such a terrible movie. There are like two Academy Award winners and three additional nominees in that cast. What the hell is that? The movie didn't make any sense, though, and adding Harry Potter in a non-flatulence based role doesn't help anything. It actually came close to its predecessor's worldwide total, but the better question might be why a sequel existed for a film that only made $117 million domestically.

Ice Age: Collision Course

Budget: $105 million
Domestic Gross: $61 million
Worldwide Gross: $315 million

Has the Ice Age series finally run its (collision) course? The unbelievably grossed $100 million less than the previous worst-grossing film in the franchise, Continental Drift (2012). At least that one had awkward singing pirates. Usually these shitty films at least do well worldwide, although this was outgrossed by even the original Ice Age (2002), which somehow came out 14 fucking years ago. I've generally been amazed that this franchise has somehow made it to five movies, which is far more than any other major animated theatrical franchise. Is it finally dead? I'd be pretty content with a series of Scrat shorts.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Budget: $35 million
Domestic Gross: $55 million
Worldwide Gross: $107 million

Alright, so this flick definitely outscored its budget and did pretty well worldwide for a comedy, but for a heavily marketed Seth Rogen comedy that came off the heals of his most successful live action comedy, this didn't do so well. Neighbors (2014) out-grossed this by $100 million domestically, and felt like way more of a thing than this one did. It might be slightly funnier, but Sorority Rising really delivered a pretty good sequel. For whatever reason it didn't connect as well, which is weird, because even though I'm sure no one was super-into a sequel, does it matter for a comedy? It's all about what can make you laugh, right? I think the novelty was diminished here, and even looking back on it, it's not like this was an immortal comedy that changed anyone's life. 22 Jump Street (2014) still holds that distinction.


Budget: $140 million
Domestic Gross: $53 million
Worldwide Gross: $153 million

So now we're getting into really really rough and sad territory. On paper partnering Spielberg and Roald Dahl seems like a great idea. It's a really genuine family film full of whimsy and spectacle that got decent reviews and could have been a great time. Still, doesn't this feel like a November film rather than a July film? I don't think it could get past its CGI creepy uncanny valley awkwardness, as much as it tried, and no matter how good of an actor he is, Mark Rylance just doesn't put butts in seats. It's also not like we're in a Dahl-mania or anything. Outside of Chocolate Factory movies, I think we're over-appraising how popular he is, or at least how much book readers want to see movies, because its gross was actually right in line with other adaptations. This might have done better, at least in the long-term (and for the budget) with a Wes Anderson-style Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) which married the material with the director really well, and while it also didn't really make its budget back, at least people are still into it seven years later. Maybe it's speaking too soon for The BFG, but how many CGI characters still look good seven years later?


Budget: $160 million
Domestic Gross: $47 million
Worldwide Gross: $433 million

Oh, China. You may have saved Pacific Rim (2013), and the $220 million you gave Warcraft may have saved this franchise, too. Can you really greenlight a sequel to a film that grossed a quarter of its budget in the States, though? It's a tough call for sure. They might do better to produce another film and then just focus on Chinese and worldwide marketing, with a limited US release. In many ways, Warcraft could signal an entirely new era in international filmmaking, one that pushes the International gross even farther than it does now. Or they could say "fuck it" because holy shit what a terrible movie.

Pete's Dragon

Budget: $65 million
Domestic Gross: $45 million
Worldwide Gross: $60 million

Who at Disney biffed this flick's worldwide release? By all accounts Pete's Dragon was actually a pretty great family film, and legions ahead of the atrocious 1977 version, but that never really caught on with audiences. Disney mis-read our love for the old one a bit and probably could have used some more context, or even a flashier title, because no one really remembers what the hell that old crap was. This isn't The Jungle Book (1967), which is pretty adored and well-known. Where is my all-CGI animal Robin Hood (1973) live action reboot?

Free State of Jones

Budget: $50 million
Domestic Gross: $20 million
Worldwide Gross: $20 million

I have a lot of questions about this. Why is Matthew McConaughey in this? Why did it come out in the middle of June against Independence Day and The Shallows (in fact, its stiffer competition was Finding Dory, Central Intelligence, and The Conjuring 2, all of which and the above beat it)? How did it cost $50 million to make? Wait, was it seriously in theaters for only a month? Are we overloading on slavery narratives? What does that mean for Birth of a Nation (2016)? Is that even a thing that can happen?


Budget; $100 million
Domestic Gross: $13 million
Worldwide Gross:$26 million

Now, to be fair, Ben-Hur only came out six days ago, and it'll surely make more money than this. Still, even with a really good hold it's probably looking at that $30-$35 million range domestically, and it's tough to say worldwide, but it's a real possibility it doesn't make back its absurd $100 million budget, without even taking in account marketing and theater costs. Did they really think this could make the $250 mill or so worldwide it would take to clear all its ancillary costs? That's crazy. That's so damn insane. Ben-Hur is probably THE flop of 2016, made even more painful by the fact the truly truly no one gives a shit at all. There's some sting with Independence Day and Ghostbusters tripping. There's really nothing but apathy here.

POPSTAR: Never Stop Never Stopping

Budget: Unknown
Domestic Gross: $9 million
Worldwide Gross: $9 million

So this one isn't making any more money. It did outgross MacGruber (2010)! This is that one that stings. It currently ranks as the 4,458th highest grossing film of all time and the single worst wide opening film of the Summer. Hell, seven films beat it that maxed out in less theaters, some significantly less, like a thousand theaters less. It's really proven how unviable Andy Samberg is at the Box Office, along with his Lonely Island partners and directors Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. They've had tremendous success on SNL and...their comedy albums I guess, but that's never really translated. I'm not sure how many more chances these idiots will get, and that's a shame, because I, for one, am a huge stupid fan. At least Samberg has Brooklyn Nine-Nine to crawl back to. POPSTAR was bad in a not okay way though. It's amazing to me that he was arguably one of the bigger modern SNL stars to break out, but has tripped so much when given his chance to shine in movies.

Well, folks, we've covered the Winners and Losers. What's that you say? Your favourite summer film wasn't in either of these lists?! Well, stay tuned because there are a ton of films yet to go which aren't really...good or bad. That mystical meh zone where they did kind of okay - that's the most thrilling list of all! Return, loyal readers and behold, our majesty!


  1. I think "Now You See Me 2" got a green light because the first one did really well in China. Kind of like a prototype for "Warcraft" in that regard.

    No mention of "Star Trek Beyond"?

  2. There's one more post to go. I didn't think Beyond was a total failure - it grossed less than its predecessors but not an AWFUL amount, and was generally accepted by the fanbase, even if it seemed to kind of come and go in a splash


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