[UPDATED] The Summer Box Office: Which Movies Made Money & Which Movies Flopped? We Break It Down!

– by Joseph Medina

UPDATE: This post has been updated to contain numbers from the weekend ending August 13, 2017.

This summer has been a big one for Hollywood. Over the course of the past few months, we’ve seen around 19 big films hit theaters. And these weren’t just normal low or mid-budget releases. No, these were big, $150 million-plus budget releases. Every single weekend, it seemed, contained a big film. Heck, I’d say this triage of big blockbusters began well before summer did, with films like Kong: Skull Island hitting in March.

But how has this summer fared? With so many big movies hitting, how many were audiences actually able to go out and see, and is it enough films that studios will continue churning these bad boys out in massive quantities for the foreseeable future? We were curious about this ourselves, and set out to see how the box office fared over the past few months.



Rather than start out at the summer proper, which began literally a month ago, we figured early March was around when Hollywood was trying to convince us summer had already arrived. As such, we plucked out some of the biggest films from then to now, saw how their performance was at the box office, and compared it to the estimated total costs of the film.

How We Calculated The Profit

So how did we go about doing this? We started with looking at the costs of the film.

Total Costs

Admittedly, there is no surefire way to figure this out, but total costs generally consist of three aspects: budget, print and advertising, and theater cut.

The budget is the easiest to find. For 90 percent of these films, they have announced budgets on sites like Box Office Mojo. For the other 10 percent, we pulled from sites like THR, which had records of “claimed” budgets for these films. It’s not always exact, but it’s a start.

For print and advertising, we mostly relied on our guts. Generally speaking, advertising can range from around half the amount of the budget, to around twice the budget of the film, depending on how big the movie is. For these movies, we selected print and advertising based around the budget of the film, and brand recognition. Again, it’s impossible to tell the actual cost, but we figured it’d be interesting to try.

The theater cut (or percentage of the grosses that the theater takes) is also not so cut-and-dry. Generally, this is done on a film-by-film basis, and on a week-by-week basis. For example, for, say Transformers, perhaps Paramount takes 90 percent of the money from first week screenings. In successive weeks, it may take 80 percent, then 70 percent, then 50 percent, and so on. With each week, their cut goes down, and the theater cut goes up. It’s different for each movie and each week, so rather than try and dig into that for each film, we figured we’d go with a rough estimate. The one we’ll go with comes courtesy of John Campea in a recent video he posted — 33 percent of the overall grosses.

Calculating Profit

So we took those costs, and subtracted them from the worldwide gross, and threw together a rough estimate of what has succeeded and what’s flopped at the box office. Keep in mind, that some movies, like Dunkirk and Valerian have yet to complete their theater run, so these numbers won’t be accurate for long (films that still have meaningful runs in theaters are noted by an asterisk). However, for a good number of these, they are accurate representations of their performance.

The Data

First, have a look at the raw data:

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Then, take a look at the worldwide grosses alongside the total costs:

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Finally, let’s take a look at the straight profit for these movies, based on the raw data above:

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So what does this mean? Admittedly, it’s difficult to tell at this stage. As mentioned above, a good number of these movies are still technically in theaters, so their final box offices have yet to be tallied. That being said, for many of them, like Valerian, War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Wonder Woman, it’s very clear that they’re either flops or successes.

Now let's take a look at the flops, the profitable films, and the big successes. Flops are the ones that lost the studio substantial money -- especially with respect to its budget. Profitable films made some money, but are likely viewed by the studios as failures, since they were likely expecting more profit. Huge successes speak for themselves -- they made some good money for the studios.

Flops:

  • Power Rangers - Lost ~ $54.8 million
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - Lost ~ $178.9 million
  • The Mummy - Lost ~ $68.4 million
  • Cars 3* - Lost ~ $74.5 million
  • War for the Planet of the Apes* - Lost ~ $39.7 million
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets* - Lost ~ $234.7 million
  • The Dark Tower* - Lost ~ $84.1 million

Films With Minor Losses:

  • Baywatch - Lost ~ $1.5 million
  • Atomic Blonde* - Lost ~$8.7 million
  • The Emoji Movie* - Lost ~ $5.0 million

Profitable Films:

  • Alien: Covenant - Made ~ $8.8 million
  • Transformers: The Last Knight* - Made ~ $31.0 million

Huge Successes:

  • Kong: Skull Island - Made ~ $44.6 million
  • Beauty and the Beast - Made ~ $585.8 million
  • The Fast and the Furious - Made ~ $429.9 million
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Made ~ $277.1 million
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - Made ~ $143.4million
  • Wonder Woman - Made ~ $285.2 million
  • Despicable Me 3 - Made ~ $497.1 million
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming - Made ~ $195.3 million
  • Dunkirk* - Made ~ $93.7 million

The big success stories here seem to be Beauty and the Beast and Fate of the Furious, which made a hefty, $585 million and $429 million-plus profit, respectively.

For films like The Dark TowerThe Emoji Movie, and Atomic Blonde, it's still a bit too early to call it yet as to whether or not they were actually successes or failures.

All in all, I have to say, this is a much better summer than I assumed. Constantly, it seemed like many movies were getting buried under the rubble, but out of 19 films, only 6 have lost money, it seems. That’s not half bad, and while I’m starting to see a bit of a tipping point, I don’t think we’re quite there yet. If you’ll notice, with the exception of War for the Planet of the Apes, none of the “flops” were incredibly well received. As such, I think that an audience’s willingness to go out to a theater may very well be directly proportional to the quality of the actual movie (or at least its critical and fan reception).

What do you think of these numbers? Is this what you expected to see out of the summer? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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SOURCE: Box Office Mojo, John Campea

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