After a disastrous 2014 box office season, most especially last summer, there is no question that 2015 is an improvement. Currently, this year’s box office is running almost +7% ahead of last year. That is all well and good, but it is not all good. In 2014, there were only a few legitimate blockbusters that crossed the magic $300 million mark. Nevertheless, there were a lot of doubles and triples; movies that still made money. This year, there is a growing list of money-losers and unexpected disappointments.
When the box office story of 2015 is written, “Jurassic World,” “Furious 7,” and “Inside Out” will be remembered as over-performers vital to breaking the 2014 slump. “Jurassic World” is almost certain to cross $600 million domestic.
“Inside Out” leapt over “Jurassic World,” “Terminator: Genisys,” and “Magic Mike XXL,” and into first place in its third week. That makes the Pixar original an anything-can-happen title, totally unpredictable but in a good way, with nearly $250 million already banked.
“Furious 7” crossed $350 domestic and grossed another astonishing $1.16 billion overseas.
Other box office bright spots include “Pitch Perfect 2,” “San Andreas,” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
There have been casualties this year, many of them unexpected, and a number of disappointments. “San Andreas” is a bright spot, no question, but it still stalled at $146 million after a $55 million opening. “Fifty Shades” opened to a spectacular $85 million and then quickly died before even doubling that.
Quick flameouts were a big problem last year, which is exactly what happened here.
Then you have the outright flops: George Clooney’s “Tomorrowland” ($91M), “Insidious Chapter 3” ($51M), “Entourage” ($32M), “Hot Pursuit” ($34M), and “Jupiter Ascending” ($47M).
All of this adds up to a usual-usual box office year — hits, misses, disappointments… The last few weeks, though, have seen a flood of under-performers, including such sure-fire titles as “Ted 2” (won’t cross $100M), “Terminator: Genisys” (probably won’t cross $100M), Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy” (flamed out at $97M), “Magic Mike XXL” (might gross $70M), and Will Ferrell’s “Get Hard” (failed to hit $100M). Even with its worldwide take of $360 million, “Mad Max Fury Road” is almost certain to be in the red.
Even “Avengers: Age of Ultron” under-performed. The sequel grossed a sweet $454 million domestic, but that is still almost $180 million below its predecessor.
What this all comes down to is a dark cloud in the silver lining of 2015’s box office comeback. Boom. Bust. Bust. Bust. Bust. Boom.
If Hollywood can no longer count on a Ted, or a Terminator, or Will Ferrell or Melissa McCarthy… The 2015 box office has improved but it appears as though serious problem with attracting movie-goers remains.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC