As 2016 winds down, I thought I’d take the opportunity to examine not just the hits, but the unexpected hits of the year. It’s easy to just repost the top 10 biggest films of the year, but these are my top 10 picks for “biggest surprise” of the year. Some of these might still be in the top 10, but they were there by overperforming.
This was a really hard list to make. A lot of films did really well, but these were the biggest surprises, at least in my book.
Honorable Mention: Finding Dory
I don’t think people thought our #1 film of the year would be Finding Dory, or that there would be this much love for this sequel. Even if you thought it would be a hit, you probably didn’t expect almost 500M domestically, and a billion worldwide. It was always expected to be a hit, just not this big.
I’m sure people thought Sully would do well, maybe 60-80M? But it exceeded even the highest expectations. It also did well worldwide, with 233M total off a 60M budget.
9) The Shallows
Who knew a film with Blake Lively sitting on a rock for 90 minutes would make 119.1M worldwide? I sure didn’t. It was also a 17M budgeted film, so it’s super profitable.
8) 10 Cloverfield Lane
I’m not sure we even saw a Cloverfield movie coming, let alone a good one, and one that would do well at the box office. It ended up with 72M Domestic and 108.2M Worldwide, and there’s now a third Cloverfield film in play. Extra points for successfully resurrecting a franchise, in a year where so many others couldn’t.
7) Lights Out
Based on a horror short, this low budget horror hit did really well. A 4.9M budget helped the profit line when it managed 67.2M Domestic and 148M Worldwide.
6) Sausage Party
Who thought a crude R rated comedy about food would make almost 100M domestically. I certainly didn’t expect it to do this well, especially after the flops of Neighbors 2 and Mike and Dave. 97.6M Domestic, 140.5M Worldwide, and on a 19M budget. That’s a hit.
5) Bad Moms
It’s not Bridesmaids, but it did launch a sequel, and it did it all off a 20M budget, ending up with 113.2M Domestic and 179.3M Worldwide.
I think even people who thought Zootopia would do well still didn’t expect it to make a billion worldwide. That’s why its here. Its 341M Domestic is definitely impressive, but with a billion worldwide, that’s the surprising part.
3) The Witch
An indie horror film with no stars made 40M Worldwide off a fractional budget. It was also a critical darling.
No one knew what to make of Deadpool. The last time Ryan Reynolds donned the suit, it wasn’t exactly great. Deadpool ended up blowing away expectations, on a relatively cheap budget (58M). With 363M Domestic and 783.1M Worldwide, FOX’s new baby is definitely Deadpool.
1) Don’t Breathe
This horror flick no one saw coming. It did way better than it should have, off a 9.9M budget. With 89.2M Domestic and 153.2M Worldwide, this is definitely one that no one saw coming.
And now for the 10 biggest disappointments of the year. Not just slight disappointments, like Jason Bourne, Star Trek Beyond, or Ghostbusters, but these were megaflops. MEGA flops.
First, let me address the elephant in the room. I didn’t include Warcraft. Was it a flop at the US box office? Yes, but a case can actually be made, possibly for the first time ever, to make a sequel to a film that flopped domestically because of how well it did overseas. Warcraft made 433.5M worldwide. If a well-budgeted sequel could happen, it just might. But for the 10 films that made my list, no sequels will be made.
10) Assassins Creed
Yes, this just opened. However, I can promise you this film won’t go green domestically. It cost 125M to make, and has only made 45.2M worldwide so far. I couldn’t rank it higher, because I don’t know exactly how high it will go, but I’m betting not much more than its budget (if that).
When there’s only one film left to make, and the studio won’t send it to theatres because it would rather anger the few remaining fans then spend more money on a dead series, you know the third film flopped really hard. With only 179.2M Worldwide, Allegiant was a huge disappointment.
8) TMNT 2
Down a lot from the original, this killed the franchise. With only 82M Domestic and 245.6M Worldwide, I’m betting its still in the red on its 135M budget after the ad budget is taken into account.
7) Independence Day: Resurgence
I think we expected more, but I also think everyone honestly wasn’t expecting it to surpass the original. So, that’s why I didn’t rank it higher. Yes, 389.6M worldwide is very disappointing on a 165M budget, and moreso considering the sequel. But in the back of my mind, I think we all expected it to disappoint, just not on the level it actually did.
Compared to the grosses of The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, this third entry fell completely off the charts. Yes, it made 219.3M worldwide, and the 75M budget isn’t so bad. If it was a standalone effort, it wouldn’t be on this list, but considering how far it fell, it has to be on the list.
5) Max Steel
While no one had high expectations for Max Steel, I promise you that a worldwide gross of 6.2M is below all low expectations. Abysmal.
4) The BFG
It barely made back its budget worldwide. This massive failure cost 140M, but made 178M Worldwide. So it is still definitely in the red.
3)Alice Through The Looking Glass
Putting Johnny Depp’s star power into question, this film was a huge flop in comparison to the original. Sure, it made 299.4M Worldwide, but that’s not nearly what the first made. It also was hugely expensive, at 170M. Dismal.
2) The Huntsman
Despite grossing way less than the original, it also had the dishonor of costing 115M and only making 48M domestic. Worldwide didn’t save it, making only 164.6M worldwide.
1) Gods Of Egypt
After all is said and done, Gods Of Egypt is the biggest flop of the year. Making only 31.1M domestic o a 140M budget, it’s the kind of career killing flop for Alex Proyas. Sure, it ended up with 150.6M worldwide, but that 10M isn’t enough to recoup the marketing budget on this film or other ancillaries. This film is deep in the red.