Looking at the totals for 2015, it’s been a good year for movie studios at the box office. We’ve had a couple of record-breaking opening weekends, and a certain movie from a galaxy far, far away smashed the December opening weekend record. Last year, the biggest opening weekend was $121 million, and this year is was $247.9 million. That’s quite a leap.
There was a fierce battle for the number one spot as the year came to a close. It looked for sure that sleeper hit Jurassic World was going to retain its title as the biggest opening, but it will just have to settle for total domestic and worldwide takings as Star Wars: The Force Awakens slipped in there and stole it in the closing weekends. Furious 7 also got off to a storming start to the year, but like its box office total one has to wonder whether the death of Paul Walker had a positive effect on its takings.
Universal won’t be too down about not getting the number one spot, however, as it has five movies in the Top 10 as well as Straight Outta Compton in the Top 20.
Marvel didn’t have the biggest opening weekend last year (it managed third and fourth with Captain America: The Winter Solider and Guardians of the Galaxy), but they could very well be disappointed not to get the title this year. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens being released, it was unlikely to have the biggest opening of 2015, but they managed it with The Avengers in 2012 against stiff competition The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games and the culminating chapter in the Twilight Saga, and Iron Man 3 beat The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Man of Steel in 2013. With that said, none of those films as Star Wars. However they’ve built such a strong brand and The Avengers did so well, one would assume that the studio was hoping to equal – if not better – its predecessor. On top of that, their only solo-movie released this year, Ant-Man, didn’t manage to crack the Top 10 with the second lowest opening in the studio’s history. Perhaps the very public story of Edgar Wright leaving the project over-shadowed the film, or the theorised ‘superhero fatigue’ is more real than we think.
And speaking of last year’s winner, Lionsgate will be very disappointed not to have topped the list again this year – or at the very least done better – with the final chapter in the Hunger Games franchise. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 opened to $121 million last year, beating out Transformers: Age of Extinction, Captain America: The Winter Solider and Guardians of the Galaxy, but The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (which in theory should have made more money) managed just $102.6 million, which was $10 million better off than Pixar’s Inside Out, but $5 million less than Despicable Me spin-off Minions. Lionsgate must have been happy enough, however, as they’ve announced more films in the series.
The other stories worthy of note here is the surprise hit of Fifty Shades of Grey and the disappointing opening for Spectre. Many experts theorised that Universal had missed the boat with their cinematic adaptation of the much-maligned erotic novel, but Fifty Shades of Grey opened remarkably well. The budget was rumoured to be around $40 million, so an $85.1 million opening was a huge win for the studio. The sequels may be in trouble, but Universal will want to captalise on this as quickly as possible. It’s also the only R-rated movie on the list, which in itself adds an extra level of success.
As for Spectre, the film was highly publicised and one would think it would storm the box office following the mega-success of Skyfall, but the film fell below certain expectations. Skyfall opened to $88 million in 2012 (though it didn’t face much in the way of competition) and would go on to gross $1.1 billion, while Spectre opened on the same weekend three years later and managed $70.4 million ($850 million in total). It did had The Peanuts Movie to compete with which, but that was catering to a totally different market. We’ll have to see what happens with the next Bond film to see if this downward trend continues.
And who would have thought that Pitch Perfect 2 would make it into the Top 10?
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $247.9 million
2. Jurassic World – $208.8 million
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $191.2 million
4. Furious 7 – $147.1 million
5. Minions– $115.7 million
6. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – $102.6 million
7. Inside Out – $90.4 million
8. Fifty Shades of Grey – $85.1 million
9. Spectre – $70.4 million
10. Pitch Perfect 2 – $69.2 million
And here’s the ones that just missed out:
11. Cinderella – $67.8 million
12. Straight Outta Compton – $60.2 million
13. Ant-Man – $57.2 million
14. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – $55.5 million
15. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water – $55.3 million
16. San Andreas – $54.5 million
17. The Martian – $54.3 million
18. The Divergent Series: Insurgent – $52.2 million
19. Home – $52.1 million
20. Hotel Transylvania 2 – $48.4 million
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and a contributor on The Flickering Myth Movie Show. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen.