With less quality content in cinemas and streaming services stealing away theatrical attendance, 2017 was another down year in terms of box office. While the year had plenty of big hits, there were far more flops that made staying home the more enticing option.
Because it’s always more fun to talk about the trainwrecks first, let’s begin with 2017’s losers.
Highest screen count: 805
Screen Gems (a division of Sony) released something called ‘Keep Watching’ on Halloween. The only notable cast member is Bella Thorne, a young actress known more for tabloid headlines than for acting. As far as I can tell, she’s the most recent former Disney starlet to go way off the rails. ‘Keep Watching’ easily became the lowest-grossing wide release of the year by earning only $94,178 over its entire short-lived theatrical run. Big surprise… it never opened internationally.
Highest screen count: 425
I’ve seen this Charlie Sheen movie on several worst-of lists from various well-known critics, but I still have yet to find someone I know who actually saw it. That shows in the movie’s disastrous box office returns. It debuted on September 8th, only made $170,000 over the course of its run, and was never released overseas.
‘Spark: A Space Tail‘
Highest screen count: 365
Budget: $40 million
Once upon a time, animation cost so much and there were so few kids’ movies that most of them were big hits. Now that CG animation has become cheap, we have tiny studios like Open Road and (ahem) The Weinstein Company attempting to crack the market. Open Road’s ‘Spark’ was one of the biggest flops of 2017. With a $40 million production budget, it opened to a mere $116,873 from 365 locations (an average of $320 per screen) and only grossed an additional $79,585 over the rest of its run. ‘Spark’ never opened internationally.
‘All I See Is You‘
Highest screen count: 283
Budget: $30 million
After the surprise low-budget hit ‘The Shallows’, I expected to see Blake Lively score more credible roles. For now, that’s still not the case, but it may take a little while longer for us to see the ripples from ‘The Shallows’. She played a blind woman who regained her sight in the thriller ‘All I See Is You’, but moviegoers were blind to the movie’s existence. Only playing in North America, it stumbled with just $217,644 over its entire theatrical run.
Highest screen count: 315
Budget: $15 million
The film critics circle that I belong to (the Utah Film Critics Association) named Andy Serkis the best male actor of 2017 for his performance in ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’, so I’m well aware of the love that many people have him. I, however, don’t have that same love. When it comes to his ability to direct, it appears that nobody does. ‘Breathe’ was originally intended to be an awards contender, but following its tepid festival reception and weak box office performance, both its awards push and its wide expansion were ditched. The drama made just $490,131 over the span of its domestic run. International box office details have never been released, which isn’t a good sign.
Highest screen count: 536
Budget: $25 million
Does anyone else think it’s time for Woody Allen to hang up his hat? ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘Match Point’ were the only two good movies of the 15 he released in the last 12 years. His current dud-to-hit ratio is drastically dud-heavy. ‘Wonder Wheel’ cost $25 million to produce and has grossed $3 million worldwide to date.
‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women‘
Highest screen count: 1,229
Following the incredible reception for DC’s ‘Wonder Woman’, Annapurna raced to strike while the iron was hot with a bio-pic about the character’s creator. It turns out that while the world loved seeing Gal Gadot bring the iconic superheroine to life, nobody wanted to learn about her creator’s openly plural relationship. Reviews were great and the festival circuit buzz was grand, but ‘Professor Marston’ choked when it debuted on 1,229 screens with only $736,883, a per-screen average of $600. The film never opened overseas and it bowed at the domestic box office with $1,584,759.
The Biggest Flops
‘Ghost in the Shell‘
Highest screen count: 3,440
Budget: $110 million
People give Marvel hell for not having made a female-centric superhero movie to date despite having set up the badass Black Widow in several other movies. However, now that Scarlett Johansson had this big-budget flop, perhaps Marvel won’t opt to make her character the focus of a standalone adventure at all. Despite being based on an acclaimed and adored property, the ‘Ghost in the Shell’ live-action remake tanked. With a $100 million budget and a pricy marketing campaign, it grossed $40.5 million domestically and $129.2 million overseas, placing its global returns just under $170 million. Bring on ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Wonder Woman 2’!
‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword‘
Highest screen count: 3,702
Budget: $175 million
I’m in the small camp of people who, 1) actually saw Guy Ritchie’s ‘King Arthur’ and, 2) had a great time with it. But like I said, that camp is small. Expected to be a tentpole franchise-starter for Warner Bros., the expensive flop earned just $39.1 million domestically. It played better overseas with $109.5 million, but didn’t drum up enough business to get WB out of the red. Its global returns only resulted in $148.6 million, making the origin tale a legendary franchise-killing flop.
‘The Dark Tower‘
Highest screen count: 3,451
Budget: $60 million
Despite the ‘It’ remake bringing Stephen King’s properties back to life at the box office, ‘The Dark Tower’ damaged the writer’s reputation. Post-production hell and studio interference resulted in a rushed waste of time that no one turned out for. The film bowed with $50.7 million in North America and $61 million internationally. That $111.7 million worldwide gross wasn’t terrible, but Sony overcompensated with a saturated marketing campaign that certainly cost a pretty penny.
‘Blade Runner 2049‘
Highest screen count: 4,058
Budget: $150 million
‘Blade Runner’ fans finally got the sequel they’d been wanting for decades. However, true to the original film, ‘2049’ was also a box office flop. Its $32.7 million domestic debut was brutal, but the film managed to hold over well in the weeks that followed, ultimately earning $91.5 million. It played better internationally, where it made $166.7 million, but the worldwide gross of $258.2 million wasn’t enough to bring the franchise back for a third. Perhaps we’ll have to wait another few decades to see the next chapter.
Highest screen count: 4,051
Budget: $300 million
With DC finally catching up to Marvel with a big superhero team crossover, ‘Justice League’ should have been a massive hit. But when the studio suits got involved and hired a Marvel director to re-shoot and edit the majority of the movie in just a few months, the film got the reception it deserved. Its theatrical run currently sits at $223.9 million domestically and $424 million foreign. The $647.9 million worldwide total is considerably below either ‘Batman v. Superman’ or ‘Wonder Woman’.
The Biggest Hits
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘
Highest screen count: 4,232
Budget: $200 million
Disney killed it this year. Although it’s not currently the highest-grossing movie of 2017, ‘The Last Jedi’ is expected to be there before long. The latest episode of the ‘Star Wars’ saga may not have the staying power of ‘The Force Awakens’, but it’s still a giant success. As I write this, its global total is up to $892.1 million and it has only been playing for 14 days.
‘Beauty and the Beast‘
Highest screen count: 4,210
Budget: $160 million
Disney’s unnecessary remakes are never going to stop as long as audiences keep showing up like they did for the live-action, auto-tuned redux of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. The fat lady finally started singing once it had grossed $1.2 billion at the global box office. That’s right, I said “billion” with a “b.” It’s currently the highest-grossing picture of 2017, but that isn’t expected to hold for much longer.
‘Fate of the Furious‘
Highest screen count: 4,310
Budget: $250 million
It’s embarrassing to me that the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies are still making billions of dollars. The first movie was okay and the franchise became stupid-fun with the fifth and sixth installments, but now they’re just stoopid. (The misspelling of “stupid” is intentional.) The first entirely Paul Walker-less entry made $1.2 billion worldwide and has Universal not only talking about more sequels, but spin-offs too.
‘Despicable Me 3‘
Highest screen count: 4,529
Budget: $80 million
Just like Disney, Universal is having a great year. Barring that the world doesn’t end this weekend and ‘The Last Jedi’ hits the milestone, Universal and Disney have the only releases (two each) to cross the billion-dollar line in 2017. ‘Despicable Me 3’ may have felt like a direct-to-video sequel, but it still made big-time box office bucks. Globally, it scored $1 billion – and that’s not counting the endless Minions merchandise.
Highest screen count: 4,348
Budget: $175 million
In a year full of both bad and good comic book movies, the highest-grossing of those was a Sony-produced Marvel reboot that nobody wanted, but everybody loved. It bested the ridiculously profitable ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ and ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ to become the fifth-highest grossing movie of the year with $880.2 million at the global box office.
- ‘Logan‘ ($616.8 million worldwide) – What a way to end a character’s franchise. Not to mention it did so with a well-deserved R rating!
- ‘It‘ ($698.1 million worldwide) – Again, what box office power for an R-rated horror movie!
- ‘Murder on the Orient Express‘ ($312.1 million worldwide) – Who knew that we needed another reimagining of Agatha Christie?
- ‘Split‘ ($278.3 million worldwide) – What a comeback for M. Night Shyamalan! He produced a micro-budget film with Jason Blum that not only became a smash hit, but earned back the trust of his former fans. Let’s hope he delivers once again in 2019 with ‘Glass’.
- ‘Get Out‘ ($254.3 million worldwide) – Another surprise Blumhouse hit, this one not only delivered the creeps, but it showed the power of Jordan Peele.
- ‘Baby Driver‘ ($226.9 million worldwide) – He paid his dues in the cult arena for far too long, but Edgar Wright now has a box office hit under his belt.