Which summer movies were box office winners and losers?

Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in "Captain America: Civil War." (Photo courtesy Marvel Studios/TNS)
“Captain America: Civil War” dominated the global summer box office. (Contributed by Marvel Studios)

This isn’t news, but it bears repeating: If there is one thing we can learn from looking at summer movies, it’s that absolutely nobody cares what critics have to say about summer movies.

Critics hated some summer movies that did really well and loved others that bombed.

Who had a good summer at the box office? Who wishes that 2016 had never happened? Let’s look at some numbers. All grosses are drawn from the almighty boxofficemojo.com.

This summer’s biggest winner was Disney, by far. Great merciful crap, did Disney have an insane year. The top four movies on the planet were Disney films.

“Captain America: Civil War, the most recent entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, grossed $1.152 billion worldwide. “Zootopia” was a sleeper smash with a $1.02 billion gross. “The Jungle Book,” an entirely CGI-affair (save for the lead actor), grossed $961 million. And Pixar’s most recent entry, “Finding Dory,” picked up $930 million worldwide (with $479 million of that in the States; domestically, it’s the year’s most successful picture).

Even with a few flops —The BFG,” directed by Steven Spielberg, earned only $54 million domestically and $160.3 million worldwide against a $140 million budget; “Alice Through the Looking Glass” took $77 million domestically but finished with a decent $295 million worldwide gross; and “Pete’s Dragon” has only made $55 million in about three weeks of release — Disney pretty well owned 2016. Until everyone gets sick of Marvel and Star Wars, this trend may continue. Then again, nothing lasts forever.

That said, superheroes in general had a good year. The critically excoriated “Batman v Superman” grossed $872 million worldwide (though only $330 million of that at home). The critically rebuked “Suicide Squad” made $637.8 million worldwide.

“Deadpool” was the real superhero surprise, grossing $782 million worldwide against a budget of $58 million. Considered a low-budget also-ran, it radically outperformed “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which took in $544 million worldwide but only $155 million domestically, less than half of the $363 million domestic “Deadpool” made. The moral of this story is that absolutely nobody cares what critics have to say about superhero movies, especially audiences in other countries.

You know who also had a good year? People complaining on the internet. Take, for example, “Ghostbusters,” rebooted by Paul Feig with a gender-swapped cast. A certain segment of the internet almost instantly started complaining about the ladies wielding proton packs, keeping up a drumbeat of bafflingly bad buzz that resulted, most recently, in actress Leslie Jones’ website getting hacked. The movie earned a $121.7 million domestic box office (and only a $217.7 million international total), and plans for a sequel seem to have been scrapped. This is very literally why we can’t have nice things.

Then again, sometimes the market and critics march hand in hand. “Free State of Jones,” starring Austin spirit animal Matthew McConaughey, just did not work and made only $20 million, less than half its $50 million budget.

I was one of the very few critics who didn’t absolutely love Austin film godfather Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some,” but it never completely found an audience, grossing only $3 million, making for Linklater’s worst outing since “Me and Orson Welles” in 2009 and doing far, far worse than 2014’s still-incredible “Boyhood.”

But I really enjoyed “Midnight Special,” by Austin director Jeff Nichols, a movie that couldn’t quite find its audience, either — it made only $6 million worldwide. (And also got its tribute-to-’80s-sci-fi-and-fantasy lunch eaten by Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”)

Ultimately, critics enjoyed “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone’s comedic ode to the Biebers of the world.  But it made a dismal $9 million (no budget was released) domestically and has not been released overseas. And the genuinely terrific “Green Room,” a much better horror movie than, say, “Don’t Breathe” or last year’s “It Follows,” has made only $3 million. I suspect both will have a decent life on various streaming services.

 

 

 

Get ready for more of the DC Comics movies people love (and critics hate)

The dark and dreary "Suicide Squad." Contributed by Clay Enos
The dark and dreary “Suicide Squad.”
Contributed by Clay Enos

This past weekend, a woman who called herself “Gracie Law” published an essay called “An Open Letter To Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara About Layoffs, Zack Snyder, and Donuts.”

The writer, who identifies herself as “former employee of Warner Bros,” rails at Tsujihara for the general crappiness of “Suicide Squad” and the Warner Bros. 2014 slate of movies and a mess of layoffs that happened about that time.

“Zack Snyder is not delivering,” writes Law about the “Batman v Superman” director who “is a producer on every DC movie,” including “Suicide Squad” and the upcoming “Wonder Woman,” the latter for which he also has a “story by” credit. Snyder is also directing the upcoming “Justice League” movie, which is essentially the sequel to “Batman v Superman.”

Is Snyder delivering aesthetically? Absolutely not.

I did not like “Suicide Squad.” I did not like “Batman v Superman.” I did not like “Man of Steel.” And man alive, I usually love Superman and Batman to pieces.

But financially? As the ol’ Magic Eight Ball says, signs point to yes.

Let’s look at some numbers.

According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, “Batman v Superman” has grossed $872.7 million worldwide, $330.4 domestically (37.9% of its gross) and a whopping $542.3 million (62.1%) overseas.

According to this excellent story by Forbes, “Batman v Superman” was budgeted at about $250 million in production costs and about $150 million in marketing. That’s about $400 million. So it HAD to make $800 million at LEAST. Which it did. (Seriously, read the Forbes piece — the gent who wrote it projected $895 million back in April and explains what that number means for Warners.)

Did the terrible reviews hurt it? Maybe, maybe not. According to this Hollywood Reporter piece, Warners was “blindsided and deeply rattled by the tepid response to ‘Batman v Superman,'” which led to a lot of second-guessing during the production of “Suicide Squad.”

Except here is the thing: Ultimately, “Batman” made the studio money. Was it “Captain America: Civil War” successful? No; that movie has made $1.15 billion worldwide and is the year’s No. 1 film.

But, interestingly, “Batman” actually made a slightly higher percentage of its money domestically than “Captain America” did (37.9% vs. 35.4%).  And “Captain America” had a far better Rotten Tomatoes score, at 90%, than “Batman v Superman,” which had 27%.

Which is to say, the student who got an F from critics made almost as much money as the A student.

Not the C student, not the B student, but the F student.

Let’s look at “Suicide Squad.”

Rotten Tomatoes score? 27%.  It made $133,682,248 its first weekend, which is an August record. It dropped 67.3%  on its second weekend, which is big but not a disaster. (“Batman v Superman” dropped 69% on its second week.) “Suicide Squad” has been open for about 12 days and has made $466 million worldwide, $222.6 million domestically (47.8%) and $243.4 (52.2% overseas). These seem to be perfectly reasonable numbers for a movie with $175 million production budget (no idea about the marketing).

All of which indicates that DC Comics movies are pretty well critic-proof and poor-buzz-proof.

Look, I would love it if people stopped going to see these movies. But there is zero evidence that they will. “Wonder Woman” is looking at a June 2, 2017, release date. “Justice League” is slated for Nov. 17, 2017.  If “Suicide Squad” breaks, say, $600 million, some sort of sequel seems in the offing.

Unless costs just spiral out of control on the next round of movies, there is no financial reason for Warners to get rid of Snyder. Get used to him.