Wednesday, 19 August 2015

2015 Blockbusters: Winners and Losers


With August soon about to wrap up, so does the 2015 'blockbuster season'. Across the last four months, we've seen some heavy-hitters hit cinema screens with varying degree of success, so I thought now would be a good time to sit back and assess the inner and losers from what has been a thoroughly captivating year thus far.

What films, studios, stars and trends saw their stock rise over the last few months? And who had a nightmare 2015? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below!


Winners


Universal


Hard to believe I know, but prior to 2015 Universal Studios had never birthed a movie that grossed over a billion dollars (if you discount the original Jurassic Park, which passed that milestone during its limited 2013 3D rerelease).

Across just three months this year the studio has notched up two mega barnstormers that both bypassed a billion bucks at the box-office - Fast and Furious 7 and Jurassic World.

Both were genuinely good movies as well; Fast and Furious 7 proved to be both a fitting send off for Paul Walker, and a no-holds barred thrill ride pitting Vin Diesel and co. against Jason Statham. Meanwhile, Jurassic World blew everyone away with a record-breaking opening weekend that saw it gross over $500 million worldwide in just three days, a figure that not even The Avengers, Harry Potter or Transformers have reached. It went on to race past $500 million domestically a few weeks later. At the time of writing, Jurassic World's worldwide gross rests at a mammoth $1.6 billion, a figure that is sure to skyrocket once more when it hits DVD and Blu-ray in a month or two. Not too shabby for a series that is over 20 years old...

Oh, and let's not forget Universal's two other big hits this year - Pitch Perfect 2 ($284 million from a $28 million budget), and Fifty Shades of Grey ($569 million from a $40 million budget).

Leading Ladies


From Pitch Perfect 2 and Terminator to Spy and George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, leading ladies that kick-ass, take no prisoners and do their own thing have been everywhere this summer.

Whether it was Melissa McCarthy subverting spy cliches or Emilia Clarke reimagining a cinema icon, it's been a wholly positive year for engaging and interesting female characters. The baddest of the bunch was without a doubt Charlize Theron's uncompromising Furiosa, but I'd also throw Rebecca Ferguson's badass character from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation into that list as well.

Better still, we've got Jennifer Lawrence's excellent portrayal of Katniss Everdeen to look forward to in the final Hunger Games film, as well as a wholly new lead female character in the form of Daisy Ridley's Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Pixar


After giving 2014 a miss, Pixar are back in full force after a summer to remember this year. Inside Out, their first original film since Brave in 2012 (and their first great film since Toy Story 3 in 2010) didn't just woo the critics - audiences ensured that the film notched up the largest opening weekend for an original film at the US box office EVER, surpassing the previous record holder, Avatar, by some way.

Despite the final box office tally ($639 million) having been thoroughly put in the shade by a much lesser film (see below), Pixar can be satisfied that Inside Out really resonated with audiences on an emotional level and could (potentially) be in the hunt for a Best Picture nomination this January.

All they have to do now is keep the winning form going - they have a second film, The Good Dinosaur, scheduled for release this November. 

Minions


Love them or loathe them (I'm definitely the latter, hence my insistence on not reviewing the film), Minions have been fucking everywhere this year. From backpacks to Tic-Tacs, the little yellow bastards have been riding a wave of success following the huge crowds their spin-off movie attracted to cinemas this June.

To give you an indication of just how popular this film has been, it's been over two months and the film is still going strong at my local theatre. Worldwide, the film has grossed $962 million, far eclipsing the original Despicable Me movies and outdoing almost anything Pixar has put out; a thought which is super depressing if you think about it. Honestly, if I had a time machine I'd make a beeline straight for the twat who originally pitched the idea of the gibberish-speaking buggers and kill him.

Sorry, I think I need to grab a cup of tea and calm down.

Nostalgia


Hollywood has always had an obsession with exploiting our sense of nostalgia, and this has never been more apparent than during the 2015 blockbuster season. Jurassic World has dominated the box office, but other returning franchises such as Mad Max, Terminator, Mission Impossible, Vacation and Poltergeist give further strength to this trend. Oh, and let's not forget to mention adaptations like The Man From UNCLE making a grab for our cash via fond memories from yesteryear.  And, for the most part, these films have been popular and successful. Mad Max was fucking awesome, as was Mission Impossible. The only blot on the score sheet is Vacation, but I've actually yet to see it; I'm just going off Rotten Tomatoes score here. 

With reboots and returns to Rocky and Star Wars (amongst others) in the near future, we have to ask, is no series safe from the sweaty palms of studios? At least we can rest safe that classics like Ghostbusters will go untarnished.

Wait.

Middle Ground


Marvel


Avengers: Age of Ultron might've dominated ticket sales throughout April and May, but the critical reception was nowhere near as warm for Earth's Mightiest Heroes the second time around. Don't get me wrong, $1.3 billion in the bank is nothing but a win; but Marvel relies heavily on its infallible reputation as the studio who you can depend on, and the reviews for Age of Ultron weren't exactly glowing. Plus, the movie actually made considerably less than the original Avengers movie did in 2012.

Ant-Man fared a little better; the reviews told us that Peyton Reed's molecular adventure was a riot and the film drew a fairly decent audience. However, it didn't meet the high expectations Marvel set themselves, and has the dubious honour and being the Marvel film with the smallest opening weekend since 2008.

Naysayers will say that this slight dip in form spells the end for Marvel and their complicated intertwined universe; I disagree. With Civil War and Doctor Strange on the horizon, things will almost certainly get back on track next year. Let's not forget, this is a studio that has time and again turned characters no-one knows or cares about into box-office gold. At the end of the day, their prospects could be worse; they could be in DC's shoes...

Spy


I may have disliked Spy, but the for once I was swimming against the tide - for whatever reason, the bulk of critics loved it. R-rated comedies aren't usually graced with a 95% score of Rotten Tomatoes, but Spy was the exception to the rule.

The only problem is, Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy's latest comedy really struggled at the box office. It still managed to notch up around $234 million from a budget of $65 million, but it started very slowly and, when compared to the rip-roaring success of something like 2014's Bad Neighbours ($268 million from an $18 million budget), Spy can hardly be considered a total success. After the deluge of spy films we've seen this year, can anyone honestly say they liked Spy best? Better than Kingsman, or Rogue Nation? It did decent business, but I doubt anyone will remember Spy in 12 months in the same way that they do for the other two aforementioned super sleuth movies.

John Green Adaptations


12 months ago, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars had blown everyone away; not only was it a genuinely great movie, it had also edged out Tom Cruise's sci-fi action/adventure Edge of Tomorrow on the same opening weekend. Not too bad for a drippy YA adaptation.

In contrast, his second adapted novel in as many years, Paper Towns, did considerably worse. With an identical budget to its predecessor ($12 million), Paper Towns only managed to scrape together a box office gross of over $60 million, a large downturn from the $302 million that The Fault in Our Stars made in 2014. To compound matters, the critical reception was less favourable. Not a total disaster, but also not a runaway hit to write home about...

Cheap Horror


Horror movies are popular with studios because they require a low investment, and promise a proportionally large return - for example, Unfriended made $44 million from a budget of just $1 million. Likewise, Insidious Chapter 3 grossed over $100 million from a meagre budget of just $10 million. However, this plan doesn't always play out - the 2015 remake of Poltergeist which, from a budget of $35 million, only brought in just over $95 million. Not the kind of megabucks 20th Century Fox and MGM would've been looking for.

Losers


Tomorrowland


It might've been original and shrouded in mystery, but Brad Bird's foray into the world of tomorrow simply didn't pay off. A shining lead performance from Britt Robertson couldn't disguise that Tomorrowland was kinda stale, and the film was met with a tepid reception at the box office.

With a lofty budget of $190 million, Disney would've been aiming for a stratospheric return on this film; after all, numbers like that are comparable to films like Jurassic World. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. The film barely scraped together enough to cover the initial cost, finally accruing something in the region of $205 million. It's the latest in a long line of high-profile flops for Disney following on from The Lone Ranger in 2013 and John Carter in 2012. 

Fantastic Four


Toxic reviews and some decidedly negative buzz left 20th Century Fox's reboot of Fantastic Four dead on arrival earlier this month. Even before the film had opened in the US, disgraced director Josh Trank was pointing fingers at who was to blame (the studio), and distancing himself from the final cut of the movie. A disappointing opening weekend followed (only $25 million), with plans for a sequel in 2017 looking shaky at best. The film didn't fare much better outside of the US either; to date, the film has yet to even make back its budget of $120 million.

To say that this film has been a catastrophic disaster would be the understatement of the century. For me, it's scarcely believable that a superhero film could even be this bad in this day and age. I thought we'd moved past crap like Green Hornet? As it stands, Fantastic Four is possibly the worst superhero film I've ever seen. It's so bad that it's not even funny. You just feel bad for everyone and everything involved. 

Adam Sandler and Kevin James


Retro video games, an alien invasion and a quartet of colourful Mini Coopers that look like a cross between The Italian Job and Ghostbusters. Pixels looked like a surefire smash hit. What could go wrong? Well, if you add Adam Sandler and Kevin James to the mix, apparently quite a lot.

Reviews for Christopher Columbus' Pixels have been pretty dismal, with one YouTube review describing it as "cinematic chlamydia". Yeesh. The movie hasn't even opened in Australia yet; maybe Sony thought the stink surrounding this film would evaporate in the intervening six weeks. Not likely; much like Fantastic Four, Pixels is one of the higher-profile flops of the 2015 blockbuster season, and I don't expect a delayed Aussie opening to change much.

The film continues a series of dismal bombs for Sander; The Cobbler, Blended, Men Women and Children, Grown Ups 2, That's My Boy...the list just goes on and on and on.

Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara


We all knew Hot Pursuit was going to be shite. But 7% on Rotten Tomatoes? Yeesh, rush everyone involved to the burns unit, because this film got absolutely roasted by critics. As a result, this film enjoyed a dismal return of just $45 million from a budget of $35 million.

As I haven't actually seen Hot Pursuit (I think I was washing my hair that day), I'll include a quote from my good buddy Zach from The Critical Reel for his verdict on the film; "[Hot Pursuit] repeats many of the standard tropes that made old screwball comedies so hearty and loveable, but without any conviction, intellect, or thirst for genuine quality." I think that pretty much sums it up, and saves me 90 minutes of my life!


What films rocked your world this blockbuster season? And which big-budget bombs stank up one of your trips to the cinema? Let me know your thoughts on my picks in the comments down below! Thanks for reading. 

6 comments:

  1. "Minions have been fucking everywhere this year. From backpacks to Tic-Tacs, the little yellow bastards have been riding a wave of success following the huge crowds their spin-off movie attracted to cinemas this June" - LOL. It's true though, I've pulled four of those things out of cereal boxes recently.

    This is an excellent post. It's a shame Age of Ultron made some big mistakes in their story, still, they should be proud of their total. I wonder how Civil War will stack up to it?

    I still can't believe Fantastic Four failed as hard as it did. That movie was supposed to make us forget how bad the original ones were.

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    1. Minions started off as annoying and they've just gotten worse, and worse. Can't stand them.

      Thanks for the great feedback though! :) It certainly took me a while to compile together all my thoughts this year - there was a lot of ground to cover.

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  2. LOL, I only saw three of these movies...

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    1. Ha, now I want to know which three! :) It's okay, that's what this recap is for - now you know what to avoid! ;)

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  3. I saw a few of these movies, and, honestly, Mad Max was the only one worth my time. Sure, Inside Out was sweet, but I'm not going to remember it in a decade from now (the way I remember Up). Unfortunately, shitty movies like Jurassic World are high on the totem pole because of the dollar signs :(

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    1. Jurassic World certainly has divided people; personally I loved it, but I can see why it might annoy some. It's a shame you didn't like Inside Out more though, I thought it was something really special. Thanks for commenting!

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