2016 has not been the best year for big summer movies. Many of the movies we were waiting for all year disappointed greatly in terms of quality, and audiences weren't having it. While much of the time poorly made and reviewed movies will still manage to clean up at the box office, that really wasn't the case this year. Just because a studio spends $100 million to make a blockbuster movie, doesn't automatically mean people are going to see it and that is a lesson studios may be forced to learn after a rough summer movie season.
Just to give an idea of just how bad the 2016 summer movie season was, here is a very overstated example. According to Box Office Mojo, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice finished up its cinematic run with $872 million worldwide on a staggering $250 million budget. Perplexingly enough, that makes Batman V Superman both one of the year's biggest hits, and biggest disasters all at the same time. On paper, the movie made a ton of money, and there is no denying that. On the other hand, after marketing and a massive budget, that really isn't the turn around that Warner Bros. wanted. In truth, this was the first movie to ever feature Batman and Superman together. It should have been a license for the studio to print money. Instead, they made a (by most accounts) bad movie and lost a big opportunity.
If the summer of 2016 proved anything, it is not that people have "superhero fatigue," it is that they just want good superhero movies. Deadpool became the biggest superhero movie fox ever made, grossing $782 million on a $58 million budget and with an R-rating. On the flipside, X-Men: Apocalypse, while still successful, only made $542 million, failing to match Days of Future Past and not managing to capitalize on a cast full of big names. The primary thing to note is that Deadpool was received very well, it made good money. Apocalypse was met with lukewarm response, and it made okay money. Captain America: Civil War was one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, and it is the highest grossing movie of the year, with $1.15 billion. It is a pretty simple trend to trace.
But not everything is superheroes. We were coming off of the summer of 2015, which had a very mixed bag of very satisfying and very successful blockbusters. Jurassic World made $1.6 billion worldwide and rejuvenated the Jurassic Park franchise. People love dinosaurs, apparently. The fifth movie in the Mission Impossible franchise, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, made nearly $700 million worldwide and is widely considered to be the best in the franchise to date. We also had Inside Out, San Andreas, Pitch Perfect 2, and a couple of massive superhero movies with Avengers: Age of Ultron and the surprise hit Ant-Man. Point being, it was a good summer with a wide range of hits.
While a handful of movies did well this summer, there were simply far more that disappointed on all fronts. This summer's' biggest bombs didn't discriminate. They ranged from failed, long-delayed sequels, to massive comic book adaptations and even well-liked movies that simply couldn't find an audience. No matter how or why they failed, here are the nine biggest bombs of the summer box office for 2016.
The Legend of Tarzan
Legend of Tarzan
Until the trailer dropped for The Legend of Tarzan, a David Yates movie that reportedly cost $180 million to make, it seemed like nobody even knew that this movie was happening. Perhaps more importantly, did that many people even want to see a new Tarzan movie? Let alone one that flashy and expensive? The answer was, not really. While it would be hard to call this movie a total bomb, its massive budget and marketing campaign are what really sunk the ship. The movie grossed $354 million worldwide. With a more modest budget, that would have been a success, but $180 million is a massive price tag, and that is not what the studio was hoping for in return.
In this particular case, Warner Bros. simply seemed to have a lot of faith in David Yates. He directed the last four Harry Potter movies, all of which raked it in at the box office and were very well liked. He also directed the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, also expected to be a massive hit. So, why not let him do a Tarzan movie? It really didn't help anything that critics weren't having it, as the movie currently sits at a very poor 36 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. All told, The Legend of Tarzan certainly wasn't the biggest bomb of the summer, but it really is a seemingly avoidable one.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The 2014 Michael Bay produced reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may not have been what anyone wanted it to be, but it made a lot of money. The movie grossed just shy of $500 million worldwide on a $125 million budget. So, a sequel seemed like a pretty good idea. The problem seemed to be that nobody had faith in the sequel being any good. By most accounts, it wasn't, as the movie currently sits at 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
As a result, Paramount took a pretty big hit on this one. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows cost more to make (an estimated $135 million) and brought in a lot less money. The movie finished its box office run just shy of $245 million worldwide. After the marketing costs are factored in, the movie very likely won't break even, at least until Blu-ray and VOD sales are factored in down the road. Paramount really needs a franchise to cling to, but it looks like the turtle power wore off pretty quickly. With Out of the Shadows bombing, we will likely either be looking at a reboot or a very modestly budgeted third entry in the future.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Independence Day 2
While it may not be the most outrageous box office bomb of the summer, Independence Day: Resurgence very well could be the single most disappointing movie of the season. It wasn't that the long-awaited sequel to Roland Emmerich's alien blockbuster came too late, it was simply that it wasn't very good. In fact, by many accounts, it is downright atrocious. Nobody would accuse the original Independence Day of being a brilliant movie, but it sure is a lot of fun, and it is a major shame Resurgence couldn't even capture a fraction of that magic.
The movie got trashed by critics on arrival. The movie currently sits at a very poor 32 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and only as a 33 percent approval rating from audiences. As a result, Resurgence has failed to make anywhere near what the original made back in 1996, only grossing $383 million from a $165 million budget. The original made $817 million worldwide from a $75 million budget, and that isn't even adjusted for inflation. It seems unlikely we will be getting a third entry, and after how bad Resurgence was, nobody is likely to shed any tears over it.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Back in 2010, Tim Burton managed to deliver a truly massive hit for Disney with his live-action remake of Alice In Wonderland. That movie went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide, which in 2010 was an even more tremendous accomplishment than it is in the modern landscape. So, a sequel was bound to happen, but it took a while to get made. That sequel finally arrived this summer in the form of Alice Through the Looking Glass, and it is not the repeat success that Disney was hoping for.
Alice Through the Looking Glass had a similarly huge budget to its predecessor, a reported $170 million, but it barely made a fraction of what the original did. All told, Alice Through the Looking Glass has only managed to make $295 million worldwide. The original made more than that domestically. It is hard to know who or what to blame. Burton didn't return to direct, but he did produce. James Bobin (The Muppets) did direct, with most of the original cast returning. Maybe it was just too late, or maybe it was just a bad movie (it currently sits at 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). Either way, this is a rare flub for Disney, who these days generally rakes it in at the box office.
Star Trek Beyond
Star Trek Beyond
Another crushing blow for Paramount. However, this one is much more perplexing and serves as something of an outlier as far as blockbusters are concerned this summer. Star Trek Beyond is one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, currently sitting at an all-around 83 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Plus, it is riding the wave of good-faith the previous two entries built up with audiences. For whatever reason, it just simply isn't making the money it seems like it should be. In a year where a lot of bad movies made an awful lot of money, it is a shame to see Star Trek Beyond not making what it probably should.
As of this writing, Star Trek Beyond has only made $285 million worldwide from a very high $185 million reported production budget. With a very massive marketing campaign factored in, Paramount will be lucky to break even on this entry in the franchise. J.J. Abrams did not return to direct Beyond, with Fast and Furious director Justin Lin taking over. Paramount had high hopes, as they already announced a fourth installment, but with the poor performance of Beyond, we will have to wait and see if that happens. The difference here being that most of us would actually like to see another Star Trek movie in this current iteration. Let's just hope it does very well on Blu-ray and VOD.
The all-female Paul Feig directed reboot of Ghostbusters will go down in history as many things. A box office success is not one of them. The movie managed to get pretty positive reviews (currently 73 percent on Rotten Tomatoes} despite some horrendously negative press leading up to its release. That didn't help, as the movie has only made $218 million worldwide. For a comedy, which is primarily what a Ghostbusters movie should be, that would be a very good number. However, given the very high $144 million reported production budget, that makes Ghostbusters a pretty big bomb for Sony. The studio was really hoping they could turn this new version of Ghostbusters into a big franchise, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Free State of Jones
Free State of Jones
There is probably a decent chunk of people reading this that either didn't know a movie called Free State of Jones was released this summer, or maybe just straight-up forgot about it. Matthew McConaughey has enjoyed a very great resurgence in his career in recent years, and a civil war drama starring McConaughey must have seemed like home run on paper. It really wasn't. While the movie was somewhat protected by a somewhat modest budget of $50 million, at least when compared to the rest of these flops, it was still a very big bomb in its own right. Free State of Jones only made $20 million worldwide, which is a pretty abysmal take for a movie with that kind of star power. This was very likely a movie STX Entertainment had originally hoped would come with Oscar buzz. Instead, they are probably just going to hope the movie can make its money back once it gets a Blu-ray and DVD release.
Disney is currently the single most dominant movie studio on the planet. They are having unprecedented levels of success at the box office, but even they are not bulletproof. One would think that the first ever collaboration between legendary director Steven Spielberg and Disney would have resulted in one of the biggest movies of the year. Instead, The BFG has resulted in one of the biggest bombs of the summer, and very likely the entire year when all is said and done.
Despite positive reviews and a cast that included recent Oscar winner Mark Rylance, The BFG only made $160 million worldwide. That is a modest number for any Spielberg movie, but it is extra painful when the $140 million production budget is factored in. The silver lining is that both Steven Spielberg and Disney are going to be just fine in the long run, but this is definitely a disappointment on a lot of levels for everyone involved.
Hollywood is currently a bit obsessed with remakes, if you hadn't noticed. But some things just simply shouldn't be touched, and the all-time cinematic classic Ben-Hur is evidently one of those things. Though the Paramount Pictures remake has yet to finish its box office run, it is very safe to call it a full-blown disaster. Ben-Hur has only made $53 million worldwide on a reported $100 million budget. The movie will be very lucky to make back its budget, but that won't get it anywhere near breaking even.
This epic flop is the last thing that Paramount needed, as they are losing money left and right. The original Ben-Hur is largely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made, and while these remake hasn't been lamented by audiences, it has been trashed by critics and there simply just wasn't an appetite for it. The studio's and creatives behind Ben-Hur must have thought they had a new Gladiator on their hands. Instead, they wound up with one of the truly tremendously awful box office flops of 2016.
While many of the summer tentpoles we were looking forward to this year failed to impress, there is hope on the horizon. The fall and winter movie seasons have a lot of promise this year, and 2017 has even more blockbusters and massive movies on the way that have a lot of potential to turn things around. If nothing else, we all have a Star Wars movie to look forward to in a few months, which should help to wash away the sins of a pretty rough summer.