Unwanted remakes and disastrous big-budget sequels will mark the summer of 2016, now officially in the books.
While high-profile do-overs such as the all-female “Ghostbusters” and the new “Ben-Hur” brought their share of summer blues, “we’ll remember 2016 as the summer of the sequel slump,” says Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations.
Only three of 14 summer sequels outperformed their predecessors, according to comScore, with “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” among the most prominent victims of sequel-itis.
There were shining lights in the summer box office, including the steady performance of animated films — most notably, summer’s box-office champ “Finding Dory” ($482.5 million) and “The Secret Life of Pets” ($359.6 million).
Superhero movies held their traditional blockbuster position, with “Captain America: Civil War” kicking off the season in true tentpole style ($408 million) and the much-maligned “Suicide Squad: still generating massive money ($300.2 million). Horror shockingly propelled the summer with hits such as “The Conjuring 2” ($102.5 million).
“Comic-book movies are supposed to do well, but PG-rated family films and horror surprisingly provided the main bright spots and the profit machines,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore.
The tracking company puts the summer box office at $4.48 billion, almost dead even with 2015’s summer tally (Box Office Mojo cites a lower $4.26 billion for the summer of 2016).
Five of summer’s most-telling bombs — and unexpected fireworks.
BOMB: ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’The follow-up to 2010’s Tim Burton hit “Alice in Wonderland” ($1 billion worldwide) opened in second place with a disappointing $33.5 million for Memorial Day weekend, making it the poster child for summer’s sequel problems.
BOMB: ‘Ben-Hur’“The Bible” producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey couldn’t lead the faith-based audience — or anyone, really — to this action-marketed remake of the classic 1959 “Ben-Hur.” With Jack Huston taking the race reins from Charlton Heston, “Ben-Hur” crashed with a disastrous $11.2 million opening in August, creaking to an irredeemable $24.3 million to date.
FIREWORK: ‘Bad Moms’
The low-budget, R-rated comedy from upstart STX Entertainment opened a respectable third with $23.8 million in late July. But Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn’s drinking and cussing moms struck a chord with women, who pushed it to “Bridemaids”-like numbers — $103.8 million and counting.
FIREWORK: ‘The Shallows’Moviegoers didn’t seem to bite on the Blake Lively vs. shark match-up, which opened in fourth place in late June. But with a $17 million budget as skimpy as Lively’s bikini, the thriller has swum as tirelessly as a great white, qualifying as a coveted summer hit with $54.8 million.
FIREWORK: ‘Sausage Party’Sony gambled on bringing Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s R-rated animated food world to life. Made for just $19 million, “Sausage Party” was a big weiner. Predominantly young males have pushed the movie to $89.6 million since it opened in August.
Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY