2017 was a very mixed year for box office returns. On the one hand there were two films making over $500 million in the US alone and it was only the third time that total US income was more than $11 billion, but on the other hand, total returns were down 2.8 % on 2016.
It was the year of the usual guaranteed hits (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), The films that were far more successful than people would have reasonably thought (Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, IT) and of course the box office disappointments (Justice League, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales).
2017 started well with both Logan and Beauty and the Beast opening massively in March. Logan, grossed $226 million in the US but this was dwarfed by the $390 million it made worldwide. And Beauty really was a Beast, opening with almost $175 million, it eventually brought in $504 million in the US, topping a colossal $1.26 billion worldwide and holding on to the title of highest grossing movie of the year right up until the very last day of 2017.
For both movies the international grosses were huge but the record at the international box office in 2017 went to The Fate of the Furious which made over one billion dollars internationally (81% of its box office total).
May saw the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 which, with a US gross of $389 million beat its predecessor by $55 million. So far, the two films have a combined worldwide gross of $1.6 billion. Once again, 2017 belonged to Marvel Studios and Disney. With the wonderfully off-beat Thor: Ragnarok ($311 million), Spider-Man: Homecoming ($334 million) and the aforementioned Guardians Vol.2, Marvel Studios international box office was a whopping $2.6 billion. Another brilliant year, and with the upcoming Black Panther and the hotly anticipated Avengers: Infinity Wars coming soon, it doesn’t look like this is going to change.
The same couldn’t be said of DC who had slightly more mixed results. They started on a massive high with the release of Wonder Woman, a film which proved that there was plenty of call for a female superhero film when it’s done right. It finished 2017 with a huge $412 million US/$821 million worldwide taking and firmly planted its feet as the third highest grossing film at the US box office for the year.
DC’s other flagpole release was Justice League which combined the talents of Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, The Flash and Superman. Although it grossed $225 million at the US and $652 million in total, it was still seen by many as a disappointment as it was at last expected to match the takings of Marvel Studio’s equivalent superhero team-up films. So far DC has had more difficulty trying to define themselves than Marvel Studios has and this is being reflected at the box office.
Another disappointment in the US was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (or Salazar’s Revenge as it was known in some parts of the world). It grossed a mere $172 million in the US but, as with previous instalments, was saved by the rest of the world and ended up with a total of almost $800 million. Still, for a film that cost $230 million, this has to be a disappointment and it will be interesting to see if Disney will want to roll the dice and gamble on another instalment in the future, especially as they have Marvel and Lucasfilm properties to keep them going.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year came in September with the release of Warner Bros’ IT. Based on the novel by Stephen King and following the flop that was The Dark Tower only a few weeks earlier, IT caught everyone unawares and scared up a very healthy $123 million opening weekend. It finished the year with $327 million and sits at number 6 in the top 10. Not bad for a film with a budget of only $35 million!
Another huge horror hit was Jordan Peele’s Get Out which finished the year with $175 million gross and the possibility of a lot of awards in the coming months.
The year ended with the release of the year’s now obligatory Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. The film was the subject of a great deal of chatter on social media with many fans not happy with the story, tone and general quality of the writing. There was a lot of talk about whether the film’s box office would be affected by this but it doesn’t seem to have been the case. As always seems to be the case with Star Wars, the box office takings are invariably always huge irrespective of the quality of the final film.
Yes, the second weekend drop was a massive 62% but this was explained by the fact that the Sunday was on Christmas Eve (always a slow day at the US Box Office). The film then recovered on Christmas Day (a busy day at the US Box Office) and as of December 31st it became the highest grossing film of the year in the US. It’s expected to finish with a $1.4 billion worldwide gross which will be broadly in line with pre-release estimates. This will be about a 30% drop on The Force Awakens which will fit the established patterns of the middle films in the two previous trilogies – The Empire Strikes Back finished 32% lower than Star Wars and Attack of the Clones finished 30% down on The Phantom Menace.
Also of note is Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle which has really given The Last Jedi a run for its money and has so far made $170 million in the US and is tracking to pull in some big money internationally. Coupled with the huge success of Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s not been a bad year at all for Sony.
Animation proved as popular as ever with Despicable Me 3 taking the crown for the highest grosser with $264 million followed by Pixar’s Coco, The LEGO Batman Movie and The Boss Baby all taking big money.
There were a number of high profile and expensive disappointments this last year including the Matt Damon led The Great Wall, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Dark Tower, Alien: Covenant and the film that Universal hoped would kick-start a new franchise, The Mummy.
There were two types of winners at the 2017 US box office. The first were films which had prominent female leads. The top three films at the US box office had female leads.
Then there are the films under the Disney umbrella with approximately $2.3 billion at the US box office and $6 billion worldwide, the House of Mouse was the highest grossing studio for the second year in a row. This shows no signs of slowing with more from Marvel and Lucasfilm (both now owned by Disney) coming in the new year. So far it’s estimated that Star Wars alone has earned Disney $4 billion, almost the same amount that Disney paid for the entirety of Lucasfilm.
The final Top Ten US Box Office for 2017 is as follows:
|1||Star Wars: The Last Jedi||Disney||$517,144,228|
|2||Beauty and the Beast (2017)||Disney||$504,014,165|
|4||Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2||Disney||$389,813,101|
|8||Despicable Me 3||Uni.||$264,624,300|
|10||The Fate of the Furious||Uni.||$225,764,765|
Source: Box Office Mojo.