Summer 2017 could be described accurately as a “Tale of Two Cinemas,” as it was a season that told two very different stories about the state of Hollywood’s biggest quarter. For critics and film lovers, this summer was a real treat, delivering a large batch of diverse, filmmaker-driven movies such as Edgar Wright’s blistering Baby Driver, Christopher Nolan’s evocative World War II drama Dunkirk, and Kathryn Bigelow’s harrowing Detroit (and these films had great box office showings to boot). On the flip side, it was a much different situation for the majority of the summer’s blockbuster releases, which Hollywood relies on to drive massive ticket sales each year.
Outside a trio of commercially and critically successful superhero flicks — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming — pretty much every big title failed to meet expectations, including well-established franchise like Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers. All that combined to make summer 2017 the lowest domestic gross since 2006 and the fewest number of tickets sold since 1992. Interestingly, despite the overall crumminess of this summer, there were fewer big box office bombs than usual, instead replaced by frequent under-performers. Here are the most disappointing box office performances of the summer.
Domestic Box Office: $22 million
Foreign Box Office: $24.2 million
Budget: $20 million
This summer was particularly brutal for comedies, which have increasingly become a reliable source of box office success due to their lower production costs and broad appeal. While Girls Trip ended up being one of the summer’s breakout hits, the season’s other raunchy, female ensemble comedy, Rough Night, was a box office misfire.
In spite of its impressive cast, led by Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon, Rough Night barely registered with audiences, earning a worldwide gross of around $46 million. Although it only had a budget of $20 million, Rough Night barely made that money back once you factor in marketing and other other costs, and the film’s mediocre Rotten Tomatoes score (48%) may have played a role in convincing audiences to skip this R-rated comedy.
Domestic Box Office: $45.8 million
Foreign Box Office: $14.6 million
Budget: $42 million
Amy Schumer struck box office gold only two summers ago when she teamed up with director Judd Apatow for Trainwreck, which ended up with an impressive lifetime gross of $140 million. Unfortunately, teaming up with Goldie Hawn for a mother-daughter comedy didn’t pay off in the same way, as Snatched wound up being an even worse comedy flop than Rough Night.
To its credit, Snatched performed much better than Rough Night domestically, earning $45.8 million, but the foreign markets couldn’t pick up the slack for this 20th Century Fox-produced film, which would end its run with a total gross of $60. 5 million. That would have been a decent figure had Snatched shared Rough Night’s modest production budget, but at $42 million, Fox almost certainly lost money on this mediocre comedy.
Domestic Box Office:$22.7 million
Foreign Box Office: $3.1 million
Budget: $29 million
The most recent release on this list, Steven Soderbergh’s heist comedy still has time before it’s theatrical run officially expires, but it’s hard to see the film finding much future success when it’s already struggled so much out of the gate. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Daniel Craig, Logan Lucky currently sits at an incredible 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is easily one of the most critically acclaimed films of the summer.
Unfortunately, favorable reviews have done little to help Logan Lucky find success at the box office, as the film has only managed to gross approximately $25.8 million since its release on August 18. With a production budget of $29 million, distributor Bleeker Street will be hard-pressed to break even with Logan Lucky.
Domestic Box Office: $20.5 million
Foreign Box Office: N/A
Budget: $18 million
You would think that someone would have noticed if a film starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks was released to over 3,000 North American theaters, but The Circle came and went so fast that you’d be forgiven for not knowing it even exists. Released right at the beginning of the summer movie season, The Circle is a thriller that thoroughly wastes the talents of its star-studded cast, which also features Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) and John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). With an embarrassing 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s little surprise that audiences stayed away from The Circle in droves, driving the film to a worldwide gross of $20.5 million on a $18 million budget.
Now let us never speak of it again.
Domestic Box Office: $25.6 million
Foreign Box Office: $7.8 million
Budget: $40 million
As previously mentioned, this summer was not kind to R-rated comedies, but both Rough Night and Snatched look like runaway success stories compared to the poor performance of The House. Starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler as a married couple who start a casino in their basement in order to payback their daughter’s college fund, The House absolutely squanders the talents of its two leads and is aggressively unfunny, which might explain why this is the first time you’ve even heard of its existence.
Somehow, this thing cost $40 million to make and the most embarrassing part is that it wasn’t even able to recoup that cost, achieving a worldwide gross of only $33 million. On the bright side, at least very few people made the decision to waste money on this tedious mess, proving that audiences are much more discerning when it comes to comedy filmmaking than Hollywood gives them credit for.
Transformers: The Last Knight
Domestic Box Office: $130.1 million
Foreign Box Office: $473.9 million
Budget: $217 million
Technically speaking, Transformers: The Last Knight is far from being a box office bomb. The film has earned just over $600 million worldwide on a $217 million budget, which would be considered a success for most movies. However, considering the previous two Transformers films both surpassed the $1 billion mark in box office receipts, The Last Knight’s comparatively anemic gross represents a small disaster for Paramount Pictures.
Combine that with the fact that The Last Knight registered the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score in franchise history (which is really saying something considering every one of Michael Bay’s Transformers films have been panned by critics) and it’s quite possible we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns for this rusted out franchise — though that isn’t stopping Paramount from trying again with the Bumblebee spin-off being released next year. That film’s box office performance should help clarify if The Last Knight was a fluke or if the Transformers have run out of gas.
Domestic Box Office: $58 million
Foreign Box Office: $119.6 million
Budget: $69 million
Dwayne Johnson is typically a sure bet when it comes to box office success, but even The Rock couldn’t keep this sinking ship afloat. Now, Baywatch was by no means a bomb, as it still managed to earn $176 million worldwide but for a comedy that cost a hefty $69 million (was that budget figure intentional?) to produce, it’s fair to say that Baywatch was one of the summer’s biggest under-performers.
The main problem for Baywatch was that its stacked cast of beautiful people couldn’t shake off poor reviews and word-of-mouth, as the film saw its fortunes steadily decline after an already disappointing opening weekend. This represents another misfire for Paramount/Viacom, which had an especially disastrous summer at the box office and had the film cost about $20 million less to make, Baywatch would have been considered a modest hit. As things stand, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a sequel.
Domestic Box Office: $151.4 million
Foreign Box Office: $192.9 million
Budget: $200 million
Disney and Pixar’s Cars movies have practically been a license to print money over the last decade or so, as the first two installments not only earned in the range of half a billion dollars at the box office, but also drove ridiculous merchandise sales. Despite their commercial success, Cars has always been regarded as Pixar’s worst franchise, clearly created to fill the studio’s — and by extension, Disney’s — pockets with cash in-between their more acclaimed films. Naturally, those who would rather see Pixar make another Wall-E or Up were disappointed to see the studio do Cars 3, but it’s unlikely that anyone worried about how it would perform at the box office.
As it turns out, Pixar may have finally hit a roadblock with the franchise, as Cars 3 has proven to be one of their worst films yet from both a commercial and critical standpoint, as the film struggled to make it past the $150 million mark domestically. The only other Pixar film to have performed worse is The Good Dinosaur, which is probably not the kind of film Disney was hoping Cars 3 would be compared to. The film is by no means a bomb, but its poor performance puts the franchise’s future into serious doubt.
Domestic Box Office: $80.1 million
Foreign Box Office: $327.6 million
Budget: $125 million
Positioned as the launching pad for Universal’s “Dark Universe” franchise, The Mummy was a critical flop that still managed to achieve big box office returns … or did it? On paper, The Mummy looks like it performed well — in fact, it’s Tom Cruise’s third-biggest non-Mission: Impossible outing behind War of the Worlds and The Last Samurai — but its worldwide gross of $407 million doesn’t tell the whole story.
While the film was a huge hit overseas, earning over 80% of its total gross in foreign markets, The Mummy was an absolute stinker domestically, with a comparatively meager $80 million. When you factor in bloated production and marketing costs (a whopping $345 million), Universal is expected to lose around $100 million on The Mummy when all is said and done, which doesn’t bode well for future installments in this already struggling franchise.
Domestic Box Office: $74.2 million
Foreign Box Office: $158.8 million
Budget: $97 million
Alien: Covenant is a film emblematic of the narrative surrounding summer 2017 at the box office, in that it disappointed rather than flopped and fell well below the milestone set by the previous installment. Billed as a course-correction for the Alien franchise after Prometheus divided fans and critics alike, Ridley Scott’s follow-up not only failed to live up to the box office returns set by Prometheus five years earlier but ironically, received an even worse critical reception.
With a $97 million budget and global box office receipts totaling $233 million, Alien: Covenant was a modest hit that ended up looking like a flop compared to the $403 million Prometheus earned in 2012. While Ridley Scott is planning to start shooting a sequel next year, it’s doubtful Fox will want to continue pumping out Alien movies if this downward trend continues.
The Dark Tower
Domestic Box Office: $47.8 million
Foreign Box Office: $53.6 million
Budget: $60 million
Sony’s The Dark Tower had a tough job from the outset, in that it had to appeal to both fans of Stephen King’s mammoth fantasy series and filmgoers just looking for an entertaining summer blockbuster. Given how hard a time The Dark Tower had even getting to screen, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that it failed on pretty much every level, including commercially. With negative reviews amounting to a dismal 16% score on Rotten Tomatoes, many Tower fans chose to stay home rather than sit through a poor adaptation of their beloved series.
The same thing seemed to happen with the masses as well, as not even the combined star power of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey could make The Dark Tower a modest August hit. With just over $100 million earned worldwide on a $60 million budget, Sony didn’t lose as much money on The Dark Tower as they could have, but it’s safe to say that those trilogy plans have well and truly been scrapped.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature
Domestic Box Office: $26.7 million
Foreign Box Office: $2.8 million
Budget: $40 million
The original Nut Job was an unremarkable animated film produced on a modest budget and released in the January dumping ground. No doubt thinking the original’s respectable box office take of $120 million would only increase if they released the sequel during the summer, Open Road Films made the decision to put out The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature during a week with little competition.
The plan backfired spectacularly.
Barely scraping together $8 million in its opening weekend, The Nut Job 2 now holds the unfortunate distinction of having the worst performance of a film released on more than 4,000 screens. To date, it has yet to pass the $30 million mark in earnings, which is made all the worse by the fact the film cost $40 million to produce (and that’s not even factoring in marketing costs). If Open Road is to release a third Nut Job, it will probably either be another January release or even direct-to-DVD.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Domestic Box Office: $39.2 million
Foreign Box Office: $107 million
Budget: $175 million
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will go down not only as one of the biggest bombs of 2017 but possibly of all time, as Guy Ritchie’s hyper-stylized take on the Arthurian legend was not only panned by critics but missed its earnings projections by a massive margin. Released in May well before the summer season really kicked off in earnest, Legend of the Sword had an abysmal opening weekend, to the point where Warner Bros. had to scale back its projections by $25 million — and then the film proceeded to fall $10 million short of that mark.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’s total worldwide gross ended up being nearly $30 million less than its whopping $175 million production budget and when you consider that the film likely would have needed to earn double that amount just to break even, it’s safe to assume that WB’s plans for a six-movie franchise have been thoroughly scrapped.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Domestic Box Office: $39.8 million
Foreign Box Office: $171.1 million
Budget: $175 – 200 million
Director Luc Besson is well known for directing the 1997 sci fi classic The Fifth Element, but it still boggles the mind that he was able to convince STX Entertainment to give him anywhere from $175-200 million to make an adaptation of a French comic book he read when he was a kid. Yet somehow, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets got made and was released this summer to mixed reviews and anemic box office returns.
Seemingly destined to become a space opera cult classic, Valerian may have cool visuals and eye-popping special effects, but that still wasn’t enough to convince audiences to check out this confusingly-titled film. While Valerian was able to earn back its production costs with a worldwide gross of $211 million, it’s estimated that the film would need to earn around $500 million just to turn a profit. Ouch.