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Summer 2016 box office: A comprehensive wrap of all the hits and flops

Summer 2016 is over, and like every year, it was quite the mixed bag. As a final wrap for this year, we’ve put together a box office report – which we’ve divided into the hits and misses.

hollywood Updated: Sep 10, 2016 13:08 IST
Rohan Naahar
Let’s recap all the hits and misses of the crowded summer movie season.
Let’s recap all the hits and misses of the crowded summer movie season.

Summer 2016 is over, and like every year, it was quite the mixed bag. But what made this year unique (and also underwhelming) was the sheer number of reboots, sequels and remakes that flooded our screens.

As a final wrap for summer 2016, we’ve put together a box office report – which we’ve divided into the hits and misses. And as an added bang for your buck, we’re also telling you how the films were received critically.

Before we begin, you should keep in mind a few basic rules. An average Hollywood movie usually needs to make double its budget to break even, taking into account the production costs and exhibitor fee (which is usually divided 50-50, except in China, where the profit sharing ratio is around 25-75). The reported budgets of these films are without taking into account advertising, which can range anywhere from $20-$30 million for the smaller films to $100 million+ for the big tentpoles.

Also, it should be mentioned that it is generally accepted that the summer movie season starts in March and ends in August – so, no Deadpool.

So, in the interest of staying positive, let’s get the major flops out of the way before moving on to the big success stories.

For everyone’s convenience: $100 million = Rs 669 crore.


Clockwise: Ben-Hur, Free State of Jones, The Nice Guys and Pete’s Dragon.

Ben-Hur review: God, they put Morgan Freeman in a Bob Marley wig

The Nice Guys review: Gosling & Crowe present the cult classic of 2016

Pete’s Dragon review: One of the best Disney films in a decade. Don’t miss it

Clearly, the Ben-Hur remake sticks out like Morgan Freeman in a bad wig. The movie is said to have hit MGM and Paramount with a loss of around $120 million. The Matthew McConnaughey-starrer Free State of Jones couldn’t recoup its moderate budget, and both The Nice Guys and Pete’s Dragon couldn’t connect with the wider audience, barely making their budgets back. Incidentally, both were excellent films.


Clockwise: Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The BFG and Independence Day: Resurgence.

Alice Through the Looking Glass review: Where’s Johnny Depp’s muchness?

The Huntsman Winter’s War review: Totally worthless, despite Hemsworth

Independence Day Resurgence review: It makes you pine for Imperial Rule

The BFG review: Shame on you. You don’t deserve Steven Spielberg

Clockwise: The Divergent Series: Allegiant, The Legend of Tarzan, Star Trek Beyond and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

These are the films that made their budget back, but did little else. The problem with most of these films was that their production costs were far too bloated for them to be called a success. Some, like the sequels Alice Through the Looking Glass, which continued Johnny Depp’s bad luck at the box office and Independence Day: Resurgence, failed to attract the audience that turned up in such droves for the originals.

The Legend of Tarzan review: Director Yates retains the Harry Potter magic

Star Trek Beyond review: Bold, beautiful, the best blockbuster of summer 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 review: Have 2 hours? Get a pizza instead

In fact, none of these films are original properties. Even The Legend of Tarzan and The BFG are based on pre-existing books. Allegiant, the third film in the Divergent series bombed so badly that the studio had to scrap plans for the fourth and final film in the series. And you can be sure that the next installments of Star Trek, Warcraft and TMNT (if they happen) will suffer serious budget cuts. You can also be sure of never getting more sequels to any of the other movies.

L-R: Ghostbusters and Warcraft.

Ghostbusters review: Who ya gonna call the worst movie of all time?

Warcraft review: Unabashedly nerdy, visually stunning, joyous fun


Clockwise: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-Men: Apocalypse, Jason Bourne and Now You See Me 2.

Batman v Superman review: Doesn’t come close to The Dark Knight movies

Jason Bourne review: Oh baby, oh baby. Then it fell apart, it fell apart

Now You See Me 2 review: You don’t want to see this magic trick

X-Men Apocalypse review: Where’s Deadpool when you need him?

While Warner Bros would’ve liked to have seen Batman v Superman cross the $1 billion mark, it is still undeniably a success - and this is without taking into account all the money it must’ve made with merchandising. The same goes for X-Men: Apocalypse, which couldn’t come close to X-Men: Days of Future Past’s $700 million+ but still did well enough to become the third-biggest X-Men movie ever. What saved both Jason Bourne (which is making big bucks in China as we speak) and Now You See Me 2 (which exists only because of China) were the relatively smaller budgets. Notice, once again, how all these films are sequels.


Clockwise: Bad Moms, The Conjuring 2, Central Intelligence, Sausage Party, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Me Before You and The Shallows.

Bad Moms review: Beware of mothers breaking bad into gooey marshmallows

The Conjuring 2 review: A louder, overlong carbon copy of the original

10 Cloverfield Lane review: New kind of monster, different kind of beast

Central Intelligence review: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart save it, just about

These are the real success stories of the summer - films with smaller budgets and a big return on investment. You’ll notice how suddenly, aside from The Conjuring 2 and 10 Cloverfield Lane, all of these films are original. Perhaps the studios should take a cue from this. These movies succeeded not because of stars (except maybe Central Intelligence, which featured the super-hot-right-now Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart) but because of their quality. And that is reflected in their reviews.


Clockwise: Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book and Suicide Squad.

Captain America Civil War review: Watch and learn, Batman v Superman

Finding Dory review: A little less crying, a little more laughter

The Jungle Book review: More Mowgli, more special effects, more heart

Suicide Squad review: Ignore all the negativity, Joker and Harley save it

And finally, the unquestionable winners of summer 2016. These are the films that not only had a lot riding on them, but managed to deliver. Some, like The Jungle Book were surprising, while others, like Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War were not as risky. But Suicide Squad, fighting off months of bad press proved to be a real success story for Warner Bros, despite terrible reviews.

So, that’s all for summer 2016. Bring on the awards season.

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The author tweets @NaaharRohan