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2015: Year of the Bomb?

4 min read


The year of 2015 is the worst performer in recent memory for box office releases – and we’re only in JUNE. Or we are ONLY in June. This is a strange business…

Earnings for the year appear to be down. Box Office Mojo’s year-on-year charts show some big gaps between this year and the previous two. Avengers: Age of Ultron and Fast & Furious 7 came out swinging for 2015 like a pro-wrestling tag team. But trailing at third is Cinderella with a US domestic gross of $198 million. Last year 22 Jump Street made about the same money, ranking it 12th – and in 2013 you’d have to visit The Croods at 14th for the same figures. Ouch.


2015 is also the biggest crater for collapsing tent poles. According to Pajiba, if you take the top five flops of this year and add the losses based on US earnings, it comes to $362 million. In 2014 the top five flops (a list that includes Robocop, Pompeii and I, Frankenstein) totalled $265 million. 2013’s losses were roughly half of that. Again, Ouch.

The top five flops of the year are Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son, Blackhat, Mortdecai and Strange Magic. Other big flops so far include Aloha, Entourage, Unfinished Business and Chappie, a movie apparently so bad that Cliffcentral host Ben Karpinski simply called it ‘kak’ and needed Fast & Furious 7 to recover from it. The most recent inductee is Tomorrowland, which may end up as a $140 million write-off.

Jupiter Ascending made less than $48 million from $176 million. Globally it earned $188 million.

Sadly the storm is not over for executives. 2015 has several more opportunities to deliver on hits and failures. Jurassic World seems like it may be a big hit, but is Terminator Genisys as assured of box office domination? Ant Man, Pan, the new Fantastic Four and Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak are also all potential candidates for catastrophic failures. Not because they are likely to be bad – there is no way of predicting that. Whoever thought Guardians of the Galaxy would be such a resounding hit? Even Marvel blue bloods had their doubts.

The troubled Seventh Son cost $95 million, but earned only $17 million ($110 million globally).

This is not to say 2015 can’t recover. If all of the above turn big profits, things will look rosier. And there have been bigger flops, especially in 2013 – that honour goes to 47 Ronin. But it is ranked 78th for 2013 in earnings. Jupiter Ascending is still in the Top 20. So to match 2013 in some way, 2015 needs over fifty movies that can earn above $50 million. There will need to be eleven movies that surpass $200 million before Cinderella sits next to 2013’s The Croods.

Cyberthriller Blackhat cost $70 million, but scraped a catastrophic $8 million in the US and $19 million globally.

That’s not impossible and we can anticipate ticking off two if Jurassic World and Spy clean up. Also, the top 5 flops of the year weren’t all heavy spenders. Only Jupiter Ascending cost north of $100 million and the rest fall between that and Mortdecai‘s $60 million.

Despite a lower-end $60 million budget, Mortdecai still failed to make $8 million in the US and only earned $30 million globally.

Still, you can blame higher production values. The original Indiana Jones would have cost $40 million today. Crystal Skull had a cheque for a gut-busting $185 million (on the other hand, it made over $300 million, so it wasn’t a bad investment). The top earning movies of 2013 and 2014 have some ridiculous budget numbers too.

It cost a rumoured $70 million, but the animation Strange Magic earned $12 million before bowing out and didn’t see much foreign action.

The gamble can be worth it: if you ignore Jurassic Park, Titanic and Star Wars Episode 1, all the global $1 billion earners (and there are 21) were released post-2000. Big money leads to big wins, but also big losses. The real question here is if 2015 can recover? The odds are a bit steep: eight of 2013’s top 20 hits were in the last half and 2014 had nine in the same time period.

Tomorrowland fell short by $100 million of its $170 million budget in the US, though foreign earnings has helped it squeeze past the budget. But count in marketing and it cost a rumoured $250 million…

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: June 12, 2015


  1. Sadly, this is one of those things that you can point to when people ask why we are just getting another brainless franchise sequel. The truth of the matter is that you release some big, loud sequel with captain abs and Mrs Hotbody, you get some famous band to do the trailer song and then you market the crap out of it and voila, tons of easy, safe profits.


  2. Blood Emperor Trevor

    June 12, 2015 at 13:29

    I think streaming services like Netflix are cutting into the box office big time. Plus it’s expensive to go to the movies if you’re a couple of people, with the obligatory popcorn & cool drink. Unless you’re a big cinema-going movie junkie you’re not going to go regularly, and you’ll wait for something you really want to see.

    I think to get people going to the movies they need to make people WANT to go to the cinema, to make them feel like they’re missing out by not seeing it there first. Otherwise I’m quite happy to wait for it to be released online or on DVD & enjoy it in the comfort of my own home. What do I really lose by watching a movie 3/4 months after release? Nothing, and I have everything to gain by waiting.

    Long story short I think the way we consume movies has changed and that’s what’s really hitting the box office more than anything else.


  3. HvR

    June 12, 2015 at 16:26

    My analysis is that Hollywood writers are doing to much cocaine.

    You get movies that is a great idea and the looks great but then the story is either blander than a McDonalds bun or they are trying to to be super clever than it comes over as ridiculous or full of plot holes.


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