Sunday 6 August 2017

2017 Blockbusters: Winners and Losers

Amazonian warriors, talking racoons and resurrected Egyptian mummies; 2017 has certainly had plenty for film fans from all walks of life to enjoy. 

From unexpected successes to high-profile bombs, this year  has seen its fair share of ups and downs, and with the curtain closing on another blockbuster season, I thought now would be a good time to sit back and assess the varying winners and losers.

Which films, stars and studios have seen their stocks rise? Who has had a nightmare summer season? Give my conclusions a quick read and let me know what you think in the comments section down below!


Wonder Woman

Hoo boy, who could've predicted that? Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, DC Comics and everyone involved didn't just deliver the goods on Wonder Woman; they blew the doors off and romped home to resounding success.

Gadot has become an household name; Jenkins a standard bearer for female filmmakers looking to break into tentpole franchises; and the character has reached levels of popularity not seen since her inception back in the 1940s.

The numbers have gone above and beyond the wildest of predictions; 92% on Rotten Tomatoes (so much for Marvel bias), nearly $800 million worldwide and counting and $400 million in the United States at the time of writing. Without a doubt the biggest surprise of the northern summer, Wonder Woman is a genuine cultural landmark at this point, and it couldn't have come a moment too soon.

Wonder Woman gets to work on whipping the DC Extended Universe into shape.


Doing whatever a spider can.
Another year, another slew of success for the unstoppable Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time its James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that led the charge, once again wooing critics (although, not as conclusively as the first film) and drawing audiences far and wide. At the time of writing, the film had earned over $860 million worldwide, slotting into third place just behind Beauty and the Beast and The Fate of the Furious overall.

For me, the film was definitely a grower and not a shower. I was initially disappointed that Gunn had scaled back on bigger picture stuff in favour of his core characters, but in hindsight I was wrong. The film benefits from foregrounding more intimate personal stuff, with Thanos and the like thrust firmly into the shadows for the time being at least. Clearly audiences felt the same way; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's staying power at the box office is comparable to only Wonder Woman and Beauty and the Beast so far this summer.

Marvel's coproduction with Sony Pictures on Spider-man: Homecoming has gone down well with audiences too. Even though a lot of the profits go to Sony, Marvel have to be commended for sticking to their end of the bargain and serving up a great relaunch of the character that slotted into the existing framework it had laid out. $643 million worldwide proves audiences still have an appetite for old Spidey.

Director James Gunn proved the original Guardians was no fluke.

Hugh Jackman

Seriously, how good is Hugh Jackman? What an absolutely rippa bloke. Our Hugh bid farewell to his most iconic character – Wolverine – in fine form earlier in the year. Logan, James Mangold's sorrowful post-apocalyptic pseudo-Western, saw Jackman strap on the metal claws for one last triumphant turn at bat, and what a resounding success it was.

Adapted from beloved source material and furnished with a gruesome MA15+ rating, Logan was the Wolverine film many fans had been clamouring for since he first stepped onto screen in 2000. Unburdened and given the freedom to hack, slash and spit curse words as he pleased, Jackman personified the adage of 'going out on top'. Kudos to you Mr Jackman, you've done yourself and Australia proud.

Next up, Jackman has his sights set on another Oscar race with his leading role as PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman. Never has a title been so accurate.

One last snickt.

Jordan Peele

Talk about making a splash. Jordan Peele was already well-known for his sketch comedy show Key and Peele, but few could've predicted just how popular his debut film Get Out would become.

The film – which hit cinemas here in Australia in May – has also stood out as a veritable populist sensation across the blockbuster season, racking up $250 million against a budget of $4.5 million. Not too shabby Mr Peele, not too shabby indeed.

Middle Ground


Guys, remember when they made a fifth Pirates film?
Yeah, me neither.
Make no mistake, Disney has enjoyed a lot of success so far this year; Guardians of the Galaxy we've already covered, Beauty and the Beast has made more money than the GDP of most African nations and the future – which includes a third Thor film, another Star Wars and a second Pixar film for the year – also looks bright.

However, not everything is trending upward at the Mouse House. The latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie has underperformed (you can call $747 million worldwide underperforming when the fourth film, On Stranger Tides, made over a $1 billion) and the third Cars film has also tracked below expectations.

Sure, most studios would kill to make as much money has this year – $3.6 billion worldwide, largely in part to Beauty and the Beast – but it seems as though two of its flagship franchises are on the decline, firmly relegating it to the middle ground.


Caught between a Rock and a hard place.
This blockbuster season has been something of a mixed bag for Universal Pictures thus far  – on the one hand, Despicable Me 3 and The Fate of the Furious have made an absolute killing at the box office, with the Minions and The Rock proving to be a popular draw for the studio once again.

In fact, the latter film was able to score the highest grossing opening weekend ever back in April – yep, that means more than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That's crazy – the series is a bonafide cinematic phenomenon at this point.

Get Out, which I've already touched on, is another feather in Universal's cap from 2017, as is M. Night Shyamalan's surprisingly good horror/thriller Split.

However, on the other hand, its attempt to launch its own cinematic universe – the so called Dark Universe – floundered before it had even begun to find its feet. The Mummy crashed and burned with critics and audiences alike, drawing a positively minuscule $31.7 million at the box office on its opening weekend domestically, losing to Wonder Woman.

It enjoyed better business overseas – $140.8 million outside the US and Canada in its opening weekend – but the critical battering it sustained has dampened expectations that Universal's string of other interconnected monster movies will be going ahead. The Great Wall also landed in cinemas with a thud back in February.

The less said about Universal's Dark Universe the better.

Sony Pictures

Baby Driver is the one shining light in Sony's otherwise
spare summer line-up. 
Sure Sony has struck gold by forging an alliance with Marvel over Spider-man: Homecoming; so what? The rest of their summer films have flunked – Life, Rough Night and that animated Smurfs reboot barely made an impact at the box office at all.

The final Resident Evil film did okay back in January but since then it has been slim pickings for Sony, save for Edgar Wright's fantabulous Baby Driver. Wright's sixth film has thankfully done okay at the box office, with $58.8 domestically at the time of writing, but its hardly the four quadrant blockbuster the studio is searching for, even if its online buzz has been deafening since it premiered at South by Southwest.

That being said, Sony's upcoming slate doesn't look great; The Emoji Movie has already squelched – $24 million on its opening weekend – at the box office in the US and Stephen King's The Dark Tower, which opens this weekend in the US, hasn't exactly gotten glowing reviews. I want to be excited for Idris Elba versus Matthew McConaughey but at this stage its not looking too great.

The Dark Tower opens in Australia in a few weeks, but its initial reception in the US has been negative to say the least.

Emma Watson

Watson learned first-hand just how unforgiving the box office can be during the summer of 2017. Her starring in role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast was widely praised and catapulted her into the top spot on the list highest-grossing female actors in the world, with a career gross of $9.86 billion since 2001.

Conversely, her other film The Circle, tanked hard. It finished in fifth on its first week and only went downhill after that. Its Australian release was bumped from April to God knows when (seriously, we've been seeing this damn trailer for months now) and the critical mauling it received in the States was savage. Needless to say that Watson has enjoyed contrasting fortunes this year.



Wait a second, wait a second – how can a company that didn't even release a film during the summer of 2017 find itself bundled with the losers? Well, a string of bad press shuffles Lucasfilm to the bottom of this deck purely because they've come out of it all looking a bit crap to be honest.

First there was the news that dynamic directorial duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had gotten the boot from the upcoming solo Han Solo film due to unresolvable creative differences with producer Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. The specifics remain shrouded in secrecy at this point but the situation will no doubt be dissected over and over until the film opens in cinemas next May.

And second was Colin Trevorrow's dismal vanity project The Book of Henry. What does this have to do with Lucasfilm I hear you cry? Well, Trevorrow is on writer/director duty for Star Wars Episode IX, and the overwhelmingly negative word of mouth on his small indie project has caused a lot of people to question the logic of his significant role on the former.

I've talked at length about Lucasfilm's ongoing kerfuffles here if you're interested in having a read.


If you thought things were looking sketchy at Sony, just wait until we get to Paramount.

Monster Trucks was a delayed disaster, Rings barely registered in the US and crawled onto DVD here a few weeks back, Ghost in the Shell was decent but overshadowed by controversy, Baywatch was laughably bad (and not in a good way) and Transformers: The Last Knight shows that the series is finally starting to show signs of fatigue.

As far as blockbusters go, that's their lot. Transformers used to be the flagship series on which the studio could depend, but The Last Knight's lower than expected takings in the United States (remember, it will still make a killing in China and other international markets) means that is no longer the case, throwing the whole expanded cinematic universe they have on the slate into question. After this fifth one, are audiences really going to sit through a Bumblebee spin-off? Probably not.


I feel like a parrot spouting the same stuff year after year but seriously - what the fuck is up with American studio comedies? Why aren't they funny? Is it just me? Do I need a sense of humour transplant or something?

Thankfully, the answer isn't something as drastic as that – almost every major Hollywood comedy this year has been a big stinker from a critical standpoint and DOA from an economic one, so I'm definitely not alone in thinking things are pretty dire.

Baywatch, Rough Night, The House, Fist Fight, Snatched and Chips all crashed and burned, with Baywatch unsurprisingly harnessing the power of the Rock and tits to make the most moolah from this pathetic crop at just over $150 million worldwide. However, it did reportedly cost nearly $70 million to produce so that's hardly a win if you ask me.

The only redeeming factor in Chips.

Guy Ritchie

Poor Guy Ritchie can't catch a break. His Sherlock Holmes duology has largely been forgotten about; The Man from UNCLE was sorely unappreciated and unseen; and now his rough and tumble reboot of the classic King Arthur mythos, Legend of the Sword, has choked at the box office. Granted, it wasn't a great film – but it did feel like a singular vision from a name director, which 20 years ago would have been enough to guarantee a sequel. Nowadays, it's not.

Which 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.


  1. I'd say War for the Planet of the Apes is a winner too, even though it's not grossing more than Dawn, it's still got a ton of praise on its side. But at the same time, Fox is kind of a lower because of the months they released Logan and War over in the states. War should've been in August and Logan in the fall or even later August.

  2. I second Brittani's mention of War for the Planet of the Apes. Universal is completely botching this "Dark Universe" thing. They intended to start it with Dracula Untold, but that was so bad they nixed the idea and decided The Mummy would be first. That was better, but isn't making money. I'm okay with them updating their classic cast of monsters, but they should probably focus more on making good movies for them rather than trying to create an extended universe just because that's what's hot right now. Question: Wouldn't the woes of LucasFilm also be a knock on Disney since they own Star Wars?



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...