In many ways this was always going to be a ‘Marking Time’ summer. The hoopla of debuting blockbusters was constantly being eclipsed by breaking news about the big summer movies of 2015/16. With photos and plot details being drip-fed all summer from the sets of Star Wars: Episode VII, Avengers: Age of Ulton and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, it took a bit of effort to get genuinely excited about the upcoming fourth Transformers movie.
There was an orderly, uncontroversial tone to the summer line-up this year; everybody behaved as predicted. There were no Lone Rangers or John Carters; no Battleship-level disasters. The biggest disappointments of the season were probably Seth MacFarlane’s Ted follow-up, A Million Ways to Die in The West and the entirely unwanted Expendables 3 (which scraped back $27m; barely enough to cover the cod liver oil and Sanatogen allowance for the cast).
Instead, the malaise was spread across the entire summer schedule. For the first time in 13 years, no summer movie breached the $300m mark (last year’s Iron Man Three made $409) and all told, the box office tally was 15% down on last year – July’s comparative drop off was a terrifying 30%! Even in victory, battles were lost and with budgets spiralling towards the £200m mark in some cases, many of the big-hitters in this list weren’t hitting quite as big as they thought they were.
20. Jersey Boys
The movie adaptation of the Broadway and West End phenomenon was poised to become this year’s Mama Mia! but instead, the musical biography of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons turned out to be 2014’s Rock of Ages. A collective critical yawn and a baffling absence of fun resulted in an unimpressive $46m haul, and a broad consensus that after Invictus, Hereafter and J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s astonishing, late-period purple-patch has run its course…at least for now.
19. Planes: Fire & Rescue
A Pixar-less summer, the first since 2005, was the likely excuse for this unwanted sequel to a knock-off that nobody cared for making an appearance in the Top 20. With only $56m in the bank, perhaps SOMEONE at Disney will realise that there is nothing remotely appealing about anthropomorphic vehicles (unless of course you’re a toy manufacturer).