This week, Neil Calloway asks whether 2015 has been a good year or a bad one at the box office…
2015 is looking to be the best year ever for box office. As things stand, two films released this year – Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron – are in the all time US box office top ten. Is there anyone that doubts that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be joining them by the end of the year?
There are actually three other films from 2015 in the domestic top forty – Furious 7, Inside Out and Minions. Part of this is because it costs more to go to the cinema than ever before, so cinema takings are even higher, but if that were true films from 2014 would also dominate the charts, and they don’t. (the highest grossing film from last year is American Sniper, which is currently sandwiched between Furious 7 and Inside Out at number 31 in the list. It’s a familiar story; Navy SEALs surrounded by childhood emotions and Vin Diesel.
Thanks to some of the above films, Universal Studios has had the best year for any studio, taking in more than $2 billion dollars at the US box office, beating a record previously held by Warner Bros. in 2009.
So, 2015 is a great year for Hollywood. Studio executives should be breaking out the champagne, the cocaine, and the hookers from Ukraine, right? Well, not quite yet.
We Are Your Friends recently had the honour of having the worst opening for a Hollywood studio film appearing in more than 2000 screens, taking in less than $1.8 million on its opening weekend, an average of $758 per screen. Proof that you need more than just Emily Ratajkowski looking hot to succeed with audiences. Despite earning almost $150 million around the globe, the disappointments of Fantastic Four have been well documented.
It feels like in 2015, if you’re a big studio movie, you either break records – Furious 7 is the highest grossing film in the franchise, and in the UK Paddington sold 1 million blu-rays and DVDs in five months, becoming the quickest StudioCanal film to do that, or you grab headlines by crashing and burning like Fantastic Four or We Are Your Friends.
The downside of this is that studios are less likely to take chances on films that aren’t copper bottomed, 100% guaranteed box office successes. Expect more comic book movies, even if Emma Thompson says she’ll kill herself if she sees another Spider-Man movie, as she claimed this week. It means you’ll see more Star Wars spin-off movies, even if that means a Jar Jar Binks origin story film. If that happens, I’ll throw myself into one of the volcanoes on Mustafar (it’s the planet where Obi-Wan and Anakin fight at the end of Revenge of the Sith; I had to look it up).
Sticking with goings on a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the year three Star Wars films – The Phantom Menace, A New Hope and The Force Awakens occupy slots in the all time top ten, and I wouldn’t be surprised if give that its release comes towards the end of the year, The Force Awakens also appears on 2016’s top box office lists.
Like football results, box office results even themselves out over time; Tomorrowland might have disappointed, but Star Wars will absorb that; Fantastic Four didn’t make enough; The Martian will.
Depending on which way you cut it, 2015 can either be the best year for box office, or one of the worst. 2016 will probably be like that too, but the films might just be a bit more homogeneous.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.