Back in April last year, I speculated that 2015 could be the year of the billion dollar blockbuster. At the time Fast & Furious 7 had just become the 20th film to top a billion dollars. I suggested that there would be four or five (more) billion dollar movies by the end of the year. How did they do?
At the time or writing Fast & Furious 7 had passed $1.2 billion, it ended up over $1.5 Billion.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was my nailed on billion dollar film, it is over $1.5billion and counting, and is yet to open in China could top $2billion.
I predicted Jurassic World would make a billion, made over $1.6billion and will be the years second highest grossing movie after Star Wars.
I thought Avengers: Age of Ultron would surpass the first Avengers movie, it came up about $100million short but still had a healthy $1.4billion.
I said of Minions that it would smash the half billion Despicable Me took and was spot on, but thought it would fall a little short of a billion, at £1.15billion, I was wrong.
After the success of Skyfall, I tipped SPECTRE for a billion, still on general releases it will increase on its current $865million but won’t make the magic billion dollars.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 took $637million, this is short of the £800million I predicted but is still a healthy return for what is essentially half a film, especially when you add it to Mockingjay – Part 1’s (2014) $755million. It also fared better than the other two big YA franchises: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials took $312million and The Divergent Series: Insurgent, $297million.
The big budget flop of the year was Fantastic Four. Not the worst “underperformance” of the year but the most publicised. I estimated the studio would be looking for north $750million. It took just $168million. I did say it would need good reviews and strong word of mouth, it got neither. Compare this to Fantastic Four (2005) that took $330million. The gap is made worse if you adjust for inflation, the 2005 movie took around $400million in today’s money (just accounting for the value of the US dollar), or closer to $500million if you adjust for ticket prices that have risen above inflation.
Based on return on investment, the most successful film of the year is Fifty Shades of Grey, its $570million box-office represents around a 1425% return on investment, beating even Star Wars: The Force Awakens that sits at around 850% (1000% if it reaches $1billion).
So what are the billion dollar contenders for 2016?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in March. The Dark Knight topped a Billion dollars back in 2008, 2013′s Man of Steel underperformed at $668 million. DC need to be approaching $1.5billion if they are going to compete with Marvel Studios but will probably grateful as long as the number has three commas!
Captain America: Civil War opens a month later in April. Captain America: The First Avenger took $370million. Its sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier smashed this with $714million. This time around they must be looking for the magic billion, especially when you consider, it isn’t just Captain America, its Captain America v Iron Man, and Iron Man has real box office pedigree.
X-Men: Apocalypse is next up in May. 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past is the highest grossing movie in the franchise at just shy of $748 million. The trailer looks good, with good reviews and word of mouth it should beet Days of Future Past, I’m not totally sure X-Men has the fan-base to top a billion dollars but it could!
Finding Dory comes out in July just in time for the school holidays. Finding Nemo made $895million in 2003. When you consider ticket prices are now 40% higher even before you add 3D premiums, that is well over a billion in today’s money. Finding Dory should easily top the billion dollar mark joining other animated movies Minions and Frozen.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in November. As a new franchise it is an unknown quantity, but it is part of the Harry Potter universe, and the last of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding movies topped $1.3billion (for half a film). It could just make a billion.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in December in the same slot The Force Awakens took in 2015. This is a real unknown. As a spinoff rather than “an episode”, part of a trilogy, it isn’t clear how people will react. However given the good will The Force Awakens has earned I suspect it will do well, especially among fans of the original film; it is after all the story of “our most desperate hour” as described by Princess Leia in her message to Obi-Wan. With a strong cast and an up and coming director it promises a lot. The $773million that Guardians of the Galaxy took should be its minimum expectation.
Check back in a years time to see who did make a billion dollars!