Summer box office 2023: what were the biggest hits and what failures? (2023)

WWhile Hollywood has had quite a few ups and downs this season, the end result looks like a win. If all goes according to plan by the end of the week, the film will hit theaters this summerreach the magic mark of 4 billion dollarsmaking it the biggest summer since pre-pandemic.

All of this will be dangerous though, and given that some big movies lose large sums of money, we can still draw some important cautionary conclusions.

It's Barbie's world

Summer box office 2023: what were the biggest hits and what failures? (1)

Not evenbarbie fairycould have foreseen the uplifting costuming, record-breaking, billion-dollar success of this summer's live acting summerBarbie dollmovie, not only the biggest movie of the season, but arguably the biggest movie of the year. Mattel's solid sales figures (the company still earned over $1.4 billion on Barbie products last year) and inevitably successful marketing campaign suggested big things, but Greta Gerwig's well-reviewed semi-satire starring Margot Robbie exceeded all expectations and many more: a rare blockbuster that has become a true phenomenon. It's the director's biggest film ever and Warner Bros.'s biggest movie to date, and at $1.2 billion (unlike many summer hits, it has legs) it's on the verge of entering the top 10 list. movies of all time. time. It was the event the industry wanted, pulling millions out of the banks where it felt so comfortable (atestshowed that about a quarter of all Barbie lovers had not been to the cinema before the pandemic) and proved that the theatrical experience can still be big business.

This inevitably led to a doubling of Mattel Studios,confirm plansfor movies based on everything from Polly Pocket (starring Lena Dunham) to Barney the Dinosaur (starring Daniel Kaluuya) to Uno. But while its massive box office success was no doubt tied to its long-running, wide-spread franchise (the only other multi-billion-dollar hit this year is the similarly nostalgic Super Mario Bros.), its degree of popularity stems from something more difficult. to be recreated: the perfect coincidence of director, star, timing and tone. It was also another reminder of the financial strength of female audiences after earlier summer hits such as "Sex and the City", "Mamma Mia!", Girls Trip and "Where the Crawdads Sing" from last year. Success can also be associated with another summer hit…

Oppenheimer was far from a bomb

Summer box office 2023: what were the biggest hits and what failures? (2)

It was the summer of Barbie andOppenheimerabut mostly it was summerBarbenheimera, an improbable dual set of comically opposing films that turned competition into collaboration. Millions of people chose to see them both on their opening weekend and continued to do so in the following weeks, creating a rare global duopoly. While Barbie's box office sales remain an unforgettable achievement, it was the $722 million (and counting) three-hour drama that really rocked the industry - a biopic hailed as a superhero movie. It certainly helped that it was directed by someone with a bit of experience in the field, Christopher Nolan from the Dark Knight trilogy, one of the few directors working today whose name carries as much weight as an A-list actor. While several big names starred in the film (Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh), Nolan was the best seller. His passionate blank check project proved fruitful not only for him, but also for other filmmakers who hoped to realize their own in the future.

But howBarbie doll, perhaps it will not be as significant a change in the industry as some believe. It may not have been followed by many other high-budget historical dramas à la Mattel, but directors will certainly be watching its continued success (it is the fourth-biggest film of the year and will soon be the third to be dethroned by The Guardians). Galaxy 3) and wonders how to force another lightning strike. The smarter ones will wait until the premieres of Martin Scorsese's The Killers of the Flower Moon and Ridley Scott's Napoleon to see if audiences will be equally willing to hurry up and show other authors the bigger picture.

Older statesmen and women of Hollywood struggled

Summer box office 2023: what were the biggest hits and what failures? (3)

Last summer's box office record Top Gun: Maverick,the absolute success of the season, seemed to suggest that Tom Cruise, who had his biggest hit to date, could do no wrong when the dethroned king of Hollywood returned his crown to him. But a year later his star was overshadowed by disappointing box office resultsMission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Part One, the long-awaited sequel to the Impenetrable Mountain. The film has grossed $541 million so far, a figure that cannot be taken out of context, but it is the franchise's worst film since the third installment in 2006, on a budget of over $291 million due to the Covid-19 crisis. 19 crisis, it is an immediate waste of money. It will lose about $ 100 million to Paramount, a similar amount is also eaten by Disney, which even the long-awaitedIndiana Jones and the Shield of Fatefares even worse, with just $378 million on a similarly large budget of $295 million (nearly half of the money earned in 2008 from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). The marketing budget for both films is also believed to be around $100 million each, making them two of the most expensive films ever made.

Perhaps they were big bets that would be too big a year from now, but timing wasn't on either side either, as budgets exploded due to Covid and, in Cruise's case, the runaway Barbenheimer train that arrived just a week later limping on all legs on which the highest-rated movie could ride. he would have acted otherwise (Ford received a more raucous response, and a debut at Cannes, on second thought, looked unwise). They're also older brands that require a bit of pre-work from beginners, at least on the surface, the fifth (Ford) and seventh (Cruise) chapters in the series that didn't necessarily appeal to younger fans. Elsewhere, the situation for actors over 50 was not satisfactoryBook Club: The Next Chaptera summer anti-bombing program that took in a worldwide loss of $28 million (compared to $104 million in the original), and Robert De Niro's comedy About My Father struggles with less than $18 million. Older viewers are still slower to return to cinemas after the height of the Covid epidemic (Oppenheimer's opening weekend was surprisingly led by the 18-34 age group), and after last year's Oscars run didn't grab them, all eyes will be on them. contenders this fall to see if the fortunes turn around.

Conservative public opinion made noise

Summer box office 2023: what were the biggest hits and what failures? (4)

There is a long list of small, underrated films aimed at Christian, conservative audiences that have been shown in US theaters, from 2014's God's Not Dead to 2019's anti-abortion propaganda.Not planned, but these were mostly drops in the ocean compared to what happened this summer, which was the arrival of Sound of Freedom at tsunami level. Originally shot in 2018 but shelved by Disney's original distributor, who then resold it, the film became one of many left-right culture war success stories this summer, alongside Jason Aldean's dark, divisive country songs andOliver Antonius. ZEndorsed by TrumpChild trafficking thriller starring Jim Caviezel was deemed non-QAnon-aligned by film criticsGuardian,JezebelWA rolling stone(Caviezel also appeared at QAnon events and presented some of the main theories) idangerousby some pundits, but became an unlikely summer hit, grossing $178 million to date against a budget of $14.5 million.

Its success was due to the quality of the film's execution (subject aside, it is visually more rigorous than any of the seminal Christian films of the last decade), the debate it sparked, and the arousal of an audience that felt underappreciated to show support and a controversial reward. -it-forward ticketing system that encouraged viewers to buy more tickets en masse after viewingresultedin "sold out" shows that are empty. Of course there will be a sequel (when the issue is over).who has rightscan be fixed) and thanks to margins it is one of the highest-grossing indie films of all time, more right-wing film developments can be expected in the future.

Necessity was the mother of invention

Summer box office 2023: what were the biggest hits and what failures? (5)

There are many factors contributing to Barbie's aforementioned success, from brand awareness to catchy marketing, but much of the attention Barbie has garnered has been the result of Gerwig's desire to subvert expectations. Instead of the Barbie movie you'd expect, it was (within the limits of the system) a thought-provoking and challenging movie, adding to the hype that filmmakers all too often settle for an apartment. One of the season's other successes achieved something similar: a stunningly imaginative animated sequelSpider-Man: O Spider-Versecie, a film full of ideas and a plot that addresses our fatigue not only with the superhero genre, but also with the story of Spider-Man itself. The film was a huge success with critics and audiences ($687 million worldwide, more than its $300 million predecessor) and showed that there is life in the Marvel Universe after all.Guardians of the Galaxy Part 3, this summer's biggest superhero blockbuster, may not have had much to offer, but the series continues to be one of the studio's most popular franchises because its director, James Gunn, has always tried to do something different and prioritize character over cliché. There was also a strong start to the Spider-Verse-inspired re-inventionTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant ChaosFeaturing visually unexpected animations and a screenplay co-written by Seth Rogen with surprising humor, the film slowly surpasses $120 million worldwide after three weeks of release, thanks to glowing reviews.

But elsewhere it was more or less the same.Little Mermaid, another Disney film that sleepily pursues live-action projects, grossed just $567 million worldwide, a significant drop from the over-billion total of Aladdin, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast. After crashing and burning with Black Adam and Shazam 2, DC had another lousy summer because of this hugely popular adventureFlashbecame the biggest flop in superhero history, with Warner Bros. losses estimated at around $200 million, followed by AugustBlue Beetlewe come across DC's worst opening weekend in nearly 20 years. Even the usually reliable Fast and Furious trilogy was showing signs of exhaustionQuick Xwith the worst cumulative U.S. viewers since Tokyo Drift in 2006. With so many viewers still in need of a more substantive reason to switch couches to the cinema, not enough films gave them more than they expected, and this summer was met with immediate critical acclaim. than ever before, correlated with the enthusiasm of the audience. The message for this season was clear: adapt or die.

No funny deals

Summer box office 2023: what were the biggest hits and what failures? (6)

This should be the summer when studio comedy should return (last year's season featured only Bob's Burgers, and Easter Sunday dared to counter a theatrical release with predictably meager audience numbers), and yet viewers mostly stayed away from funny stuff. A raw travel comedyHappy ridecrashed worldwide for $15 million, Sebastian Maniscalco's About My Father vehicle could be the last, $8 million Sundance purchase of SearchlightTheater campBert Kreischer's film barely made more than $3 millionThrough the machinefailed to exceed $11 million, Book Club 2 stuck reading,It turns blacklast weekend he failed to raise $18 million and star in an R-rated dog comedygets lostwas left out of favor with an estimated opening of just $8 million.

The only comedic success of the summer was the sweet and sour return of Jennifer LawrenceNo offense, but even that drew only moderate applause as it grossed just $50 million in the US and $87 million worldwide on a budget of $45 million for its genre. That's a far cry from last summer's big comedy hits like 2009's The Hangover ($468 million worldwide), 2011's Bridesmaids ($306 million worldwide) and 2015's Spy ($235 million worldwide). . Affordable comedy frontrunners are in short supply, and the general public is interested in watching comedies on the big screen, with most going straight to streaming (historically hitmakers Adam Sandler and Melissa McCarthy opted to partner with Netflix for ever smaller returns at the box office instead of taking any chances). The success of Barbie showed that people were eager to play comedy with viewers, even if it was hidden in a different package. So the laughter is there, it just takes a more vigorous search to find it.


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