Last year was the best ever at the domestic box office, as movies generated over $11.3 billion in ticket sales. Disney, on its own, generated more than $3 billion in U.S. box office, and more than $7 billion worldwide — a first for any studio, topping Universal's record $6.89 billion from last year. So why does it feel as if the movies are riding off into the sunset? Here's a look at a few big box office trends and what they say about where Hollywood is heading.
Biggest Money Losers of 2016: Why Hollywood Loves Sequels
A quick look at this list and you'll understand why Hollywood might fear originality. For all of the critical hand-wringing about the dearth of original content coming out from the major studios, there is abundant evidence that even when studios do make original stories, audiences don't much care. Of the 25 biggest money losers in 2016, none are sequels, reboots or existing franchises (yes, Ben Hur at the bottom of the list is in fact a remake of a remake, but of a film from the 1950s with little name recognition beyond Baby Boomers).
With the increasing cost and inconvenience of attending the cinema, and the ever-increasing narrative complexity of at-home entertainment options, trips to the theater, more and more, are only for the big tent-poles, or as an option to entertain small children.
Box Office Winners: Escapism Takes The Cake
The list of 2016 money-makers is almost entirely comprised of children’s movies, comic book characters and franchises. No. 21, Clint Eastwood’s Sully, is the highest ranked entry that could be called a “serious” film. While the audience for more intellectual fare has always been smaller, the box office numbers suggest that the audience for pure commercial entertainment is the only audience left at the theater.
Most Profitable Movies of 2016: Horror Movies FTW
Since at least the early '80s boom in slasher pics, there has been one truism in Hollywood: Horror movies never lose money, a rule of thumb that remained true last year. Despite original films taking a drubbing in basically every other genre, eight of the 15 most profitable films of the year were horror movies. Despite their usual need for special effects, horror movies — with their love of enclosed spaces, long shadows and young inexperienced actors — can often be made on comparatively small budgets. While theater attendance is down in most other categories, teenagers on dates still love the genre.
Source for all charts: The Numbers