This week in The Callow Way, Neil Calloway looks at the box office so far in 2015…
Number one at the global box office so far this year is Furious 7, which has made $1.5 billion dollars so far, the vast majority of it outside the US, and also become the highest grossing film in the franchise so far – out of the seven films, the four most recent films occupy the top four spots in terms of box office, then the first film, then the second, and 2006’s Tokyo Drift coming in last.
It’s impressive that a studio has taken a franchise that had apparently ran out of gas with its third instalment and made it hugely successful, but it also shows that the home video market is playing an increasingly important role in the success of films; people are watching earlier parts of the franchise before catching the latest in the cinema.
The same might be said of the second highest grossing film of the year so far; Age of Ultron is the second highest grossing film in the Marvel Comic Universe, beaten only by the first Avengers film. Looking at the box office for the MCU, more recent films come top; inflation is that big, so it must be people watching newer films in the cinema, then catching up with the rest on blu ray or DVD.
The third most watched film this year is Jurassic World, entering the top three after less than a week on release, and breaking records with the biggest opening weekend ever. I know most films claim to have a record breaking opening weekend – usually the biggest opening weekend of the third week of May following a full moon – but Jurassic World‘s opening weekend is a genuine, bona fide record breaker. Will we see Jurassic World 2: The Lost Park soon?
Film number four in the highest grossing of 2015 is Fifty Shades of Grey. The first film that isn’t part of a franchise. Or rather, isn’t part of a franchise yet. Of the top ten, only San Andreas isn’t a sequel, remake, reboot, or based on other material. When a disaster movie starring a former wrestler is the most original successful film around, you need to start to worry.
Mad Max: Fury Road just sneaks into the top ten at number 9. We are only halfway through the year, though, and I’d bet good money that come the end of 2015 Fury Road isn’t even the highest grossing revival of a film series that started in the 1970s and is set in a desert wasteland. Jurassic World won’t remain the biggest opening weekend either.
Further down the top twenty highest grossing films of the year so far, at 15 and 16, we have Tomorrowland and Jupiter Ascending, both have made almost $200 million each, and both are seen as flops. Though they have made back their production budgets back, neither will have recouped their budgets plus marketing costs. Like The Iron Giant, Brad Bird’s first film as director, which wasn’t a success on its original release, I think Tomorrowland will have an afterlife on DVD. Expect it to gain a cult following among children in the years to come, even if it doesn’t match the heights of The Iron Giant.
The first half of the year also gives a clue to the sort of films that will do well in the second. As I said, The Fast and The Furious films seemed to be dead after Tokyo Drift, and three films from franchises you thought might be finished are set to be released before the end of the year and will surely be in the top ten. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the latest in a franchise you thought should have finished by now, but each instalment is more entertaining than you expected it to be. Terminator Genysis will hopefully revive the films after two less than great outings, and The Force Awakens seems to be doing what George Lucas should have done with the Star Wars prequels; hand them over to people who love the originals and stay well away.
2015 will be a record breaking year at the cinema, largely due to characters and settings we already know, with original movies faring less well. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’d like to see something original blow me away, rather than relying on old friends.
The box office for the year so far can be found here.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.