As this summer’s movie season ends, we take a look back at the hits, misses, rising stars and the downright disastrous.
Winner: “Finding Dory”
Disney’s long-awaited “Finding Nemo” sequel cashed in on 13 years of anticipation, as it became the number one movie of the year with $480 million at the domestic box office. And with the movie still yet to open in several major foreign markets, it could clear $1 billion worldwide.
Loser: Jared Leto
While audiences and critics largely approved of the actor’s take on The Joker in “Suicide Squad,” his part was heavily cut when the studio made major changes to the movie to make it lighter in tone. A bad move on both parts.
Winner: Spider-Man in “Civil War”
An epic win for both Marvel Studios and Sony as audiences roared at the arrival of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The web slinger left quite an impression, became meme fabulous, and launched his own trilogy with the first film arriving next summer.
Even with fabulously funny ladies in Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy, the franchise reboot did not live up to fantastic fan hype. Nor did it sink as far and fast as detractors would have hoped. Sony Pictures is still undecided on a possible sequel, so there still might be some fight left in “Ghostbusters.”
Winner: Kevin Hart
The comedian starred in two of the top 10 summer movies, “Central Intelligence” alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and “The Secret Life of Pets” — the latter having so much success that it warranted a sequel announcement less than a month after its release and has currently made more than $350 million in North America.
Winner and Loser: “Sausage Party” and its animators
Seth Rogen‘s raunchy R-rated comedy was one of the sleeper hits of the summer, rolling to $80 million at the box office on a $19 million budget. But that windfall didn’t benefit the movie’s animators at Vancouver’s Nitrogen Studios, who are alleging they were shorted on overtime pay and threatened with not receiving credits on the movie if they quit.
Winner: Scary Movies
It started with “The Conjuring 2” as horror movies and scary thrillers alike became the summer’s most consistent money makers. Made on much smaller budgets than studio tentpoles, movies like “The Shallows,” “The Purge: Election Year,” “Lights Out” and “Don’t Breathe” represented the highest profit margins of the season.
Winner and Loser: “Warcraft”
Legendary’s video game fantasy epic made just $47 million in U.S. theaters on a $160 million budget, and scored an abysmal 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. But people are already talking about “Warcraft 2,” as its $386 million in foreign box office revenue — more than half from China — more than made up for its flop at home.
Winner and Loser: Chris Pine
There’s no doubt that the actor got a lot of exposure this summer, appearing in both “Star Trek: Beyond” and indie darling “Hell or High Water.” But while the “Star Trek” sequel is the sixth highest grossing movie of the summer with just more than $151 million, it was made for a whopping $185 million. On the other side of the spectrum, “Hell” is set to be the highest grossing indie of the summer with nearly $9 million and counting.
Loser: “Independence Day: Resurgence”
When it came in $10 million lower than predicted — at an estimated $41.6 million for its opening weekend — this 20-years-later sequel quite literally bombed. “Resurgence” didn’t feature the original’s lead Will Smith, plus the other returning cast members, including Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth, weren’t big enough box office draws.
Winner: “Bad Moms”
This plucky matriarchal comedy came through for young STX when the studio really needed a win. Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Christina Applegate, “Bad Moms” made back its $20 million budget in its first weekend alone, going on to amass $124 million and counting worldwide.
It was never exactly clear where the demand was for a new “Ben-Hur,” and the box office proved that out, as MGM and Paramount’s remake of Charlton Heston‘s 1959 chariot-racing epic ran aground to just $19.6 million to date on an estimated $100 million budget. Heston’s three-and-a-half hour original made $74 million.
Winner: Sigourney Weaver
A healthy mix of the original male “Ghostbusters” popped up in Paul Feig’s all-female reboot, but audiences were truly waiting for the queen of the ’80s classic, Sigourney Weaver. who pops up near the end as mentor to Kate McKinnon’s character. Weaver also got an aural cameo (and onscreen shout-out) in the summer’s biggest hit, “Finding Dory.”
This comedy would have perhaps fared better at the box office if it were rated PG-13 instead of R. There’s also the fact that Andy Samberg can’t open a film as a leading man as titles perform better when he’s lending his voice to an ensemble animated film.
Winner: Mike Birbiglia
The self-deprecating Birbiglia emerged as a considerable directing talent with the funny and tender “Don’t Think Twice,” about an improv group that confronts its future when one member achieves the success they’d all been hoping for. Birbiglia has been a heat-seeker since his debut “Sleepwalk With Me,” but with the helpful hand of his producing partner and NPR personality Ira Glass, he’s finally broken through.
Loser: “Free State of Jones”
One of the more expensive bombs for upstart distributor STX Entertainment starred Matthew McConaughey. It proved that the only type of Civil War film that worked this summer involved Marvel superheroes, not Confederate soldiers.
Winner and Loser: Margot Robbie
The Australian beauty hit the jackpot as Harley Quinn in the comic book movie hit “Suicide Squad.” But she didn’t get good reviews — or box office grosses — for her role as Jane in “The Legend of Tarzan.” Many said Robbie was one of the best parts of the Warner Bros. antihero film, while “Tarzan” made a weak showing stateside, earning only $125.9 million against its hefty $180 million budget.
Winner: “Captain America: Civil War”
This supercharged sequel sped into the billion-dollar club after only two weeks in theaters, also going on to become the highest-grossing film in the “Captain America” series. Great reviews and new characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther helped the Disney-Marvel movie become second highest-grossing movie of the summer, just behind Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Dory.”