This summer’s hits and misses can seem like surprises if you go by things like reviews, muted fan buzz pre-release, limited feedback on reviews and stories about the films on blogs and the like.
But Hollywood creative accounting can balance those books, and that all-important international marketplace has saved many a dog this popcorn picture season.
Let’s start with Steven Spielberg’s biggest flop this millennium, his doddering, dainty CGI adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The B.F.G.” It cost over $140 million, made about $50 in the US, and $60 overseas. As a film typically needs to pull in three times its budget for the studio to earn back its investment when they take their cut, this is a big money loser. Huge.
How Disney managed to spend $170 million for an “Alice in Wonderland” sequel with no Tim Burton is a mystery. The film earned $76 million in north America by rolling out before summer had really gotten going. Poor reviews didn’t help. It made over $210 million overseas. Still, nowhere near breaking even.
“Ice Age: Collision Course” tanked in the U.S. — $53-60 million will be all it finishes up earning, against a $105 million budget. Overseas, however, Fox earned $235 million and counting, putting this one into profit.
“Warcraft,” budgeted at $160 million, earned a fraction of that domestically. Under $50. But a staggering showing for this hashjob of a video game adaptation overseas comes close to putting it in the black — $380 million in less discerning parts of the world.
“Independence Day” was way past the point where a sequel should have been attempted, but Fox spent $165 million to prove that wrong, and has earned about $390 million worldwide for its troubles. Not in the black, and it won’t end up there. But
A lot of people seemed to be rooting for the “Ghostbusters” reboot to fail. It’s earned over $116 million and counting, domestically, against a $144 million or so budget. Overseas isn’t rescuing this one, as this cast and this brand have little value in other markets. A $60-70 million take abroad added to its US total means this one’s a big money loser. How much depends on how creative the accounting will be. de
“Suicide Squad” did $135 US and $132 foreign on its opening weekend against a $175 million budget. Figure $225-300 US and smaller numbers overseas and this one seems sure to take a bath. It probably doesn’t need to earn the $750 million bandied about, but it needs to clear $500 and that doesn’t seem a sure thing, not by a long shot. “Batman v. Superman” cleared $800 million worldwide, by comparison.
“Star Trek Beyond” will be the third film in Paramount’s latest revival of the franchise. So they said pre-release. The latest film cost $185 million, has earned just over that, U.S. and foreign markets. It will not stay in theaters in this country long enough to put a dent in the $550 million or so it should need to turn a profit. Overseas, it is tanking. We may never see a fourth outing by this crew.
The best bets this summer were kids’ cartoons (“Finding Dory,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and even the cheaply made “Angry Birds” were fairly safe), with the live action half of “The B.F.G.” costing it dearly with that audience. Comedies and horror made on the cheap — another “Purge,” “Nerve,” “Bad Moms,” “Lights Out!” — did well, generally.
If two Marvel movies were to underperform in a row, the massive comic book movie bubble would pop. Because DC isn’t cashing the same consistent checks. But who knows when that will happen? Not in Stan Lee’s lifetime, I’d wager.