TWELVE DAYS OF CINE-MAS
A traditional festive countdown, reflecting upon my 2016 movie-watching moments...
SIX STUDIO SCORECARDS
They are the big six; the studios that have shaped Hollywood history. Today, the red-&-black ink ledgers that only the likes of Louis B Mayer, the Warner brothers or Lew Wasserman were privy to are open books for all to see. And the marketplace is filled with mini-majors (like Lionsgate) and small, savvy operators (like Megan Ellison’s A24). So, in 2016, which studio heads slept easy at night and who woke every day feeling the burning glare of the stockholders…
1. DISNEY: 2016 Worldwide Gross - $6.426billion; Market Share – 24.2%
HITS: Captain America: Civil War (#1; $1.153b; pictured, below); Finding Dory (#2; $1.027b); Zootopia (#3; $1.24b); The Jungle Book (#4; $966m); Doctor Strange (#10; $667m); Rogue One A Star Wars Story* (#11; $576m); Moana* (#25; $308m)
MISSES: Alice Through the Looking Glass (#26; $229m); The BFG (#39; $178m); The Finest Hours (#80; $52m) The Light Between Oceans (#102; $23m).
ANALYSIS: The studio’s red inkers (the expensive underperformance of Alice Through the Looking Glass; the non-starters like The BFG and The Finest Hours) have faded from memory in the wake of the combined box office might of the Marvel line-up, a resurgent in-house animation division (Zootopia; Moana) and smart property relaunches (The Jungle Book; Pete’s Dragon, which hit $144m). And there are still the first two weeks of Rogue One grosses to round out the year! The undisputed box office champ of 2016.
2. WARNER BROTHERS: 2016 Worldwide Gross - $4.499billion; Market Share – 17.8%
HITS: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (#6; 873m); Suicide Squad (#7; $746m); Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them* (#9; $740m); The Legend of Tarzan (#19; $357m); The Conjuring 2 (#24; $320m); Sully (#30; $228m); Central Intelligence (#31; $217m); Lights Out (#47; $149m)
MISSES: Collateral Beauty* (#109; $20m; pictured, right); Keanu (#108; $20m); The Nice Guys (#89; $36m**); Barbershop The Next Cut (#79; $54m); War Dogs (#65; $86m)
ANALYSIS: The WB fought off a savaging by critics and fanboy backlash to post big numbers on their DC blockbusters and successfully recaptured that Potter magic to find fantastic returns on JK Rowling’s return. The big profits stemmed from mid-budget horror hits The Conjuring 2 and Lights Out; did well to position the upmarket Eastwood/Hanks pic Sully as both a prestige title and box office performer. Dropped the ball on The Nice Guys (which seemed a pre-elease sure thing); counter-programming the underwhelming (and terribly titled) Collateral Beauty against Rogue One hasn’t work.
3. 20TH CENTURY FOX: 2016 Worldwide Gross - $3.963billion; Market Share – 13.4%
HITS: Deadpool (#7; $783m; pictured, below); X-Men Apocalypse (#12; $544m); The Revenant (#13; $533m); Kung Fu Panda 3 (#14; $520m); Ice Age Collision Course (#17; $407m); Independence Day Resurgence (#18; $390m); Trolls* (#23; $328m)
MISSES: Rules Don’t Apply* (#134; $4m); Morgan (#126; $8m); The Birth of A Nation* (#117; $16m); Keeping Up with The Jones (#94; $29m); Eddie the Eagle (#81; $46m); Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (#70; $77m).
ANALYSIS: The infectious sense of fun that the marketing team clearly had with the release of Deadpool caught on with audiences. Stood by Leo with an all-or-nothing Oscar campaign for The Revenant, though Best Picture loss must have lead to head-scratching. Worked hard to counter negative buzz, pre- and post-release, on X-Men Apocalypse (“Memo from head office: Don’t choke women in your key-art”). Delivered good returns on ready-made family hits (Ice Age and Kung-Fu Panda sequels; Trolls), but couldn’t find mid-level performers. Felt like Beatty’s bomb, Rules Don’t Apply, was marked ‘ Too Hard Basket’ from early in the campaign.
4. UNIVERSAL: 2016 Worldwide Gross - $3.011billion; Market Share – 12%
HITS: The Secret Life of Pets (#5; $875m); Warcraft (#15; $433m); Jason Bourne (#16; $415m); Bridget Jones Baby (#34; $212m); The Girl on The Train (#40; $175m; pictured, below).
MISSES: Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping (#123; $9m); Kevin Hart What Now? (#104; $23m); Hail, Caesar! (#77; $63m); The Boss (#69; $79m); My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (#64; $89m); Neighbours 2 Sorority Rising (#60; $108m)
ANALYSIS: Universal’s one big, ambitious role of the dice, Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, was butchered domestically yet rose to the challenge globally; kudos to the international marketing teams, who did what their bosses couldn’t, silencing the critics and convincing the fans. Otherwise, it was a play-it-safe, steady-as-she goes slate – an animated hit, a slew of ok sequels, one surprise hit in lit-adaptation The Girl on The Train (again, despite the baying of critics). Proved with their mirthless raft of ‘funny’ films that, apparently, both dying and comedy can be easy.
5. SONY PICTURES: 2016 Worldwide Gross - $1.789billion; Market Share – 8.2%
HITS: The Angry Birds Movie (#20; $350m); Ghostbusters (#29; $229m); Inferno* (#32; $217m); The Magnificent Seven (#42; $161m); Don’t Breathe (#44; $153m); Sausage Party (#50; $140m); The Shallows (#54; $119m)
MISSES: Pride and Prejudices and Zombies (#115; $16m); The Brothers Grimsby (#97; $25m); Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk* (#96; $26m; pictured, right); Risen (#82; $46m); Money Monster (#63; $93m); The 5th Wave (#57; $110m).
ANALYSIS: It was Angry Birds then daylight for the SPE crowd. Their phone-app property made the leap to bigscreen glory (financially, at least), but the rest of the bunch proved frustratingly blah (Inferno; The Magnificent Seven) or bound by genre (Don’t Breathe; Sausage Party). Must be still shaking their collective head at what they had to overcome to give Ghostbusters a fair go; all things considered, a global gross of $229m was not too shabby. The Shallows seemed primed for bigger things, but couldn’t quite break out. Of the duds, Money Monster must’ve been the biggest letdown, with a Cannes world premiere and old-school star power (Clooney, Roberts, Foster) failing to ignite interest.
6. PARAMOUNT: 2016 Worldwide Gross - $1.338billion; Market Share – 7.7%
HITS: Star Trek Beyond (#21; $343m); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of The Shadows (#28; $246m); Jack Reacher Never Look Back (#43; $160m); Arrival* (#48; $144m); 10 Cloverfield Lane (#59; $108m)
MISSES: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot** (#102; $23m; pictured, right); Florence Foster Jenkins** (#95; $27m); Zoolander 2 (#78; $56m); 13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (#75; $69m)
ANALYSIS: Arrival is making a late run for box office glory, but in every other respect it was a year to forget for Paramount. Was relieved when the choice to let Fast & Furious guru Justin Lin liven up the Star Trek franchise worked out, but other prime properties (TMNT; Cruise’s Jack Reacher) left critics and audiences soured. Like Sony and Fox, the art of pumping up mid-level entrants into box office leaders seems to be a lost one; 10 Cloverfield Lane had buzz and opened big, but fell short of its promise. Terribly missed opportunity with Tina Fey’s terrific Whiskey Tango Foxtrot; coulda been this generation’s M*A*S*H, but turned to mush. Downbeat year had far-reaching consequences; amongst a raft of layoffs by Viacom overlords, long time Australian boss Mike Selwyn and marketing head Kate Smith were walked.
*Still in general release
**Domestic only; International release via distribution partners.