2017 was something of a mixed bag for Hollywood at the box office. After last year’s record domestic receipts, $11.37 billion, it was likely that there would be a decrease in revenues and tickets sold overall. But by the end of the year, returns should come close to 2015’s $11.12 billion take. Sure, the tickets sold won’t crack 1.3 billion and we’ll admit that’s slightly concerning. However, many people forget that that was the norm in the ‘80s and early ‘90s – and it has already happened twice in this decade.
It’s also worth taking into account that there were 720 releases this year, down from a 30-year high of 736 in 2016. There were also only seven films to cross the $300 million mark compared to nine in 2016 and six in 2015. 31 films have already earned over $100 million compared to 30 in 2016 and 29 in 2015. Frankly, it’s all pretty consistent and theater owners aren’t really complaining (although they tend to believe the sky is falling on a daily basis).
Needless to say, the death of the moviegoing experience has also been highly exaggerated. Keeping that in mind, we’ve reviewed the last 12 months to highlight the best and worst at the box office from individual titles, fragile studios and telling trends.
Please note: Any box office figure with an asterisk (*) indicates a title that was still in release at the time of publication.
Click here for our full coverage of the best of 2017, including The Worst Films Of The Year, Best TV, Best Scores & Soundtracks, Best Cinematography, Posters, Trailers, Horror, Action Sequences, our Best Films Of The Year, Underrated and Overrated Films of the Year, Breakout Talents, Best Animation, Biggest New Stories Of The Year and the 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2018.
Best: “Wonder Woman”
You’ve heard a ton about the success of Patty Jenkin’s “Wonder Woman,” but it’s so incredible let’s revisit it, shall we? The WB release made $412.5 million domestic, which helped push it to $812.8 million worldwide. The only DC Comics movies to make more? “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” It’s currently the no. 21 highest-grossing movie all-time in the U.S. ahead of “Iron Man 3,” “The Hunger Games” and “Spider-Man.” The only movies with female leads to earn more? “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (and soon “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”). That’s pretty fantastic for a movie many industry pundits thought would be a modest hit at best.
Best: Ladies leading the way at the art house
What do “Lady Bird” ($29.1 million*), “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” ($23.1 million*), “Victoria & Abdul” ($22.2 million U.S., $64.8 million worldwide), “The Zookeeper’s Wife” ($17.4 million U.S., $23.1 million worldwide), “The Beguiled” ($10.5 million U.S., $27.2 million worldwide) and “Beatriz at Dinner” ($7 million) have in common? They were all limited releases with female leads (three directed by women) that were hits at the box office based on their cost. There were some disappointments in this regard, Fox Searchlight’s “Battle of the Sexes” and “My Cousin Rachel” being two of them, but overall it was a huge reminder to the studios that female-led films can be super profitable.
Best: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is another Lucasfilm winner
Yes, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is trailing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the box office, currently behind by 29% 14 days into release as of this writing. But comparing ‘Last Jedi’ to ‘The Force Awakens’ is asinine frankly. ‘Force Awakens’ was the first “Star Wars” film with the original cast reprising their iconic roles in 32 years and the first new “Star Wars” film in a decade. It was the beginning of a new era, so of course ‘The Force Awakens’ was a phenomenon which will likely never repeat itself. And while ‘The Last Jedi’ suffered a very steep 68% drop in its second week of release, the Rian Johnson-directed movie is just days away from hitting $1 billion. A better comparison? “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” That movie crossed $1 billion in six weeks and ‘Last Jedi’ will basically have passed the same threshold in three. By today it’ll be expected to have surpassed “Beauty And The Beast” as the highest grossing film of 2017 domestically. Say what you will about ‘The Last Jedi,’ but Episode 8 will likely crack the top 10 for the highest grossing movies of all time worldwide and you know Lucasfilm and Disney will be more than happy with the result.
“Worst: “Justice League” fails the DCEU
Imagine you put a five-year movie plan in place, all leading up to your version of Marvel’s “The Avengers,” and you have what many consider the greatest, most well-known intellectual properties on the planet — DC Comics’ Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Now imagine your version of “The Avengers” fails with critics, doesn’t come close to cracking $1 billion at the box office and instead of becoming your crowning achievement, actually becomes your worst effort and lowest grossing film of your entire cinematic universe. It’s not fair to call “Justice League” a flop or a bomb, it will have made around $655 million worldwide by the time it ends its run, but the fact that it may not outgross “Man Of Steel,” and wind up as the lowest grossing film of the DCEU so far is embarrassing. Don’t listen to anyone trying to grasp at silver linings — given these numbers, the film is a flat-out failure. Don’t call it franchise fatigue, either. Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” the 17th(!!!) film of the MCU, outgrossed “Justice League” by nearly $200 million at the worldwide box office. This is just a bad film that audiences saw right through. Domestically and internationally, “Justice League” won’t even crack the top 10 of the highest grossing films of 2017. This is a calamitous event for Warner Bros. who should have had a $1 billion-plus movie on their hands. Frankly, with these dismal numbers, it’s a wonder everyone at the DCEU hasn’t been fired yet (though there has been plenty of boardroom shuffling). But make no mistake, “Justice League” is a colossal disaster for the DCEU. Some perspective? Sony thought “ The Amazing Spider-Man 2” was such a failure at $702 million worldwide, they shitcanned the entire series and started over….