Now we’re in September. Summer Movie Season is definitely over and now we’re headed into Oscar Movie Season, which really began with the release of Clint Eastwood’s Sully. But before you get too deep into the fall schedule we need to continue our look back at this disastrous summer movie season we just experienced.
If you haven’t read part one don’t read any further. You can find it here. But if you have, let’s proceed.
Independence Day: Resurgence – No Will Smith, No Audience
Oh Jeff Goldblum. I’m so disappointed in you. I thought you could carry this movie by yourself but its poor reviews indicate otherwise. The lack of star power combined with the fact the movie was no good made for one of the summer’s biggest failures.
The BFG – A BFB(omb)
The BFG, short for the big fucking guy I think, made almost no money. That was a bad thing considering it cost well over $100 million to make it. Did you know that Steven Spielberg directed this? Really, a guy who almost never misses. Was this his biggest misstep in his legendary career?
The Legend of Tarzan – A Forgotten Legend
Who asked for this? When the trailer for this was first released in 2015, we asked this. Our take back then was that the movie might not be terrible but it’s definitely not going to be a financial success. This was pretty spot on analysis as The Legend of Tarzan failed to crack the top ten in domestic gross even though it had a huge budget.
The Secret Life of Pets – Not So Secret Success
An animated movie about talking pets. Even this summer couldn’t bring down a family movie with that premise. This movie could have been absolutely terrible and it still would have made money. But it didn’t suck which led to its current 4th place position in domestic gross. Considering it cost half of what it took to make Zootopia and Finding Dory, I declare this the biggest animated hit of the year.
Ghostbusters – Series Busted
The Ghostbusters reboot had such negative buzz going into it that it’s no surprise it didn’t live up to expectations. The trailer was the most disliked video on youtube ever. That wasn’t a good sign. Now critics didn’t hate it but that didn’t drive people to go see it. Another female led comedy released this summer, Bad Moms, made almost as much money on a lot smaller budget with less star power.
Ice Age: Collision Course – Franchise on Ice
You might ask why this was even made? Isn’t Ice Age kind of a joke of a franchise. Yes, it’s never reviewed that well and it’s only gotten worse reviews as the series has gone on. But every one of the previous four pulled in over$150 million domestically and the last two both made $800 million worldwide.
Parents will take their kids to see movies even if they’re trash. Well, that seems to not hold up any more. Collision Course made about a third of its usual gross. You would think kids would still want to turn out for the voice acting of Ray Romano and Denis Leary but no, they didn’t.
Star Trek Beyond – Star Killed
So the first Star Trek movie after the release of the new Star Wars really underwhelmed. No, not in quality. With Simon Pegg as screenwriter, the movie was still really good. However, it grossed way less than the previous two in the franchise. I’m guessing it has something to do with the new Star Wars (and the fact that it stole Trek’s director). It probably didn’t help that one if its stars died before release either. RIP Anton Yelchin. Sorry one of your last movies was such a flop.
Jason Bourne – Damon Unbourne
After all this disappointment, Matt Damon wouldn’t let us down. The whole team was back together too; Damon, Julia Stiles, and director Paul Greengrass. Even though it wasn’t bad, it was clearly the worst in the series (Damon only). For a series with such high regards, merely OK is kind of a disappointment. That’s just how it went this summer.
Suicide Squad – Mixed Results
After Batman Vs. Superman failed to impress audiences, while still making boatloads of cash, everyone wanted to see how Suicide Squad would do. Could DC really put out three movies with lukewarm reception? With the cast they had, Suicide Squad had to be good, right? It wasn’t but did that even matter. Will Smith puts asses in the seats, but was there something more here. This movie didn’t have the greatest opening but it just keeps making money; it was still 7th in this last weekend’s box office results.
Are we just stupid? Are we all impressed by something familiar. I know I’ll still see Justice League even though none of these DC movies have given me a reason to. In a summer where audiences haven’t had patience for bad movies, Suicide Squad is a real anomaly.
Pete’s Dragon – Imaginary Success
Do you remember this old Disney movie. It was live-action with a cartoon Dragon. Yeah, you probably don’t. It came out in the 70’s which was kind of a weird time for Disney. The Disney of 2016 wouldn’t make a movie like that. Except they did. They remade Pete’s Dragon. And maybe they shouldn’t have. Despite great reviews, Pete’s Dragon didn’t even break $100 million.
Sausage Party – Box Office Party
A movie about talking sausages, unlike talking pets, doesn’t sound like a hit. But a movie with talking sausages voiced by Seth Rogen and his friends? Still doesn’t sound like a hit. However, in a summer with plenty of disappointing explosions and not many laughs, Sausage Party stood out as an actual quality comedy. If you were looking to laugh this summer, Sausage Party turned out to be your best bet. On such a small $19 million budget, Sausage Party turned out to be incredibly profitable.
War Dogs – Dogshit
On paper, this appeared to be a solid movie. I really liked the cast; Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, and Bradley Cooper is a nice group of bros. Wrtier/director Todd Phillips has made some great comedies like Road Trip, Old School, and The Hangover. The problem is he’s also the guy who made The Hangover sequels. War Dogs is much more The Hangover Part III than it is Old School.
Ben-Hur – Ben Hurt
I really don’t want to even make fun of Ben-Hur. What else can be said that already hasn’t. Read this account of it. Or this. In a summer of flops, this was the biggest disaster. A disaster of “biblical proportions” as I’m sure many bad reviewers have joked. Really I just feel bad for this movie. It made only $26 million, just behind Florence Foster Jenkins.
So was this really the worst summer movie season ever? Of the 30 movies we discussed in parts 1 and 2, only seven grossed over $100 million domestically and received a rottentomatoes score of 70% or higher. And two of those were Star Trek Beyond and Ghostbusters, which would be considered flops. 2015 saw ten such films, eight of which grossed over $150 million, compared to 2016’s four.
But what makes 2016 so truly awful isn’t it’s lack of quality blockbusters but rather its numerous absolute failures. In 2016 there were 13 movies with $100 million budgets that failed to make back their budgets in domestic box office. In 2015, there were only two (Tomorrowland and Terminator: Genisys). And it’s not like these were misunderstood gems. Only three of these thirteen even got decent reviews. Nine of the thirteen scored below 40%. That really confirms it, this summer had a lot of high priced trash.
As audiences got smarter, the movies got worse. Everyone know what rottentomatoes is now, it isn’t hard to be more discerning when it comes to movies. It’s no coincidence that 9 of those 13 flops got really poor reviews. More people would have went to see Warcraft or Independence Day: Resurgence if they were better movies.
The good news is that Hollywood can reverse this in 2017 and beyond. The solution is simple. Make better movies. If that means nine Marvel movies a year, so be it.