5 Things We Learned From 2016’s Box Office Results

Chris Tilly
Movies Star Wars
Movies Star Wars Marvel

The box office receipts have been counted, the results are in, and Captain America: Civil War has been crowned box office king of 2017, grossing a whopping $1.15bn globally. Although Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – which was released in mid-December – is fast approaching that total.

But what do last year’s stats tell us about what’s happening in cinemas worldwide? Who were the winners and losers? And what are the trends to look out for going forward. The following are five things that we learned from 2016’s box office results…

Disney is Unstoppable

The top five films at the global box office came from Disney, a quite remarkable feat. The aforementioned Civil War came in at number one, followed by Finding Dory, Zootopia, The Jungle Book and Rogue One.

Those five films, as well as the likes of Doctor Strange and Moana, helped Disney become the first studio to make more than $7bn in tickets sales in a calendar year. And the combination of Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and its homegrown animation and live-action efforts suggests that the studio will continue that run.

Indeed, with the likes of Episode VIII, Cars 3, Guardians 2, Beauty and the Beast, and a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie all releasing in 2017, we’re expecting the Mouse House to once again be crowned box office king.

Deadpool is Bigger Than Batman in the U.S.

Expectations weren’t exactly high for Deadpool when it hit screens in February. The character had made a disappointing appearance in a terrible X-Men movie a few years back, while the director of this standalone version was a first-timer.

But the teasers and trailers were good – suggesting a hilariously cynical alternative to the Marvel and DC superhero movies – and the buzz was slowly building. The early reviews were great, with the film scoring 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. And then the opening weekend was MASSIVE, with Deadpool grossing more than $130m to become the biggest R-rated and February opening ever in the States.

Thanks to great word-of-mouth, the film dominated throughout the month, making $363 domestically, which was more than either Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad could muster. The result sent shockwaves though the industry, studios were forced to rethink their superhero strategy, and a lucrative franchise was born.

Bridget Jones is Bigger Than Deadpool in the U.K.

Bridget Jones is a big deal in the U.K., where Diary and Edge of Reason are two of the most successful comedies ever. But it’s been 12 years since the last film hit screens, so no one was quite sure how a belated sequel would fare.

They needn’t have worried, as while Bridget Jones’s Baby made just $24m in the States, it grossed a massive $212m worldwide, which isn’t bad for a film that cost just $35m. And in the U.K. is was a phenomenon, making more than Deadpool, Captain America, and Batman v Superman, and grossing $59m, which made it the fourth most successful film of the year.

With numbers like that, expect a fourth film to be announced sooner rather than later.

Animals Are More Popular Than Humans

In 2016, if you stuck an animated animal in your movie, it was likely to make money. Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory was always going to be a hit, and it was a big one, breaking the $1bn barrier. But Zootopia – aka Zootropolis – doing the same was something of a surprise, the tale of a rookie rabbit cop teaming up with a sneaky con artist fox striking a chord with children and parents alike.

The Jungle Book was a magical live-action adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling stories, featuring songs from the animated version. But while Neel Sethi made a delightful Mowgli, it was the photo-realistic computer-generated animals that got most bums on seats.

And The Secret Life of Pets was one of the big surprises of the year. The film was essentially Toy Story but with animals. However, thanks to a witty script, performed by a stellar voice cast of cutting-edge comedians, the film managed to appeal to all ages, making $368m from a budget of just $75m, making it the sixth biggest film of the year.

The Mermaid is the Most Successful Film You Haven’t Heard Of

Unless you are in China that is. That burgeoning market helped turn Warcraft from a flop into a hit, and made The Mermaid one of the biggest films in 2016, in spite of the fact that it barely made a dent at the U.S. box office.

Directed and co-written by Stephen Chow – the man responsible for the brilliant likes of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu HustleThe Mermaid is the tale of an assassin siren sent to kill a developer whose work poses a threat to all merfolk, but who instead falls in love with him.

The film made just $3m in the States, but grossed an incredible $550m elsewhere – the bulk of that in China. All of which meant The Mermaid pulled off the remarkable feat of being the 12th most successful film of 2016. Aquaman – the ball is now in your court!

So that’s what we learned from 2016’s box office receipts, but how did the year’s many belated sequels fare? We examined the stats in another look back.

Chris Tilly
FANDOM Managing Editor in the UK. At this point my life is a combination of 1980s horror movies, Crystal Palace football matches, and episodes of I'm Alan Partridge. The first series. When he was in the travel tavern. Not the one after.