“Hidden Figures”

With 2016 now officially behind us, as a new year of movies begins, all the box office numbers for last year have been added up, poked and prodded, and the results say that 2016 was the biggest year ever domestically in total box office numbers.

In 2016 the total box office in the U.S. hit $11.4 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) which is an increase from 2015 which had box office totals of $11.3 billion. A lot of people went to the movies last year which poses an interesting dilemma and a question or two.

Without question, the overall consensus is that 2016 was simply one truly lousy year for movies. There were a lot of expensive flops and major box office disappointments; so there’s no question that audiences were voicing their opinions about the quality of films that were released by not showing up to see them, hurting box office.

In 2015, total domestic box office was up over 7% from 2014 in which box office totals actually went down from the previous year, 2013, by over 5%. However in 2016, box office totals went up a measly 2% over 2015. So yes, even though last year was a record breaking year, it was only just barely.

And keep in mind that 2016 was a record breaking year in large part due to just nine movies that each grossed over $300 million domestically, which was a record. But what if those films hadn’t done so well? One could argue then that the box office totals would have actually gone down instead of up. And with 2017 looking to be another lackluster year in terms of Hollywood studio releases, with yet another year of endless sequels, remakes and reboots, the question is whether audiences will show up after being burned so many times with similar kinds of movies last year? Will films such as “The Fate of the Furious”, “Despicable Me 3”, and “Justice League” also pull in huge numbers in 2017, or will audiences finally say with their dollars that they have had their fill?

As for this weekend, I’ll give you just one guess which film was number one… Of course it was yet again “Rogue One”. Though the film’s box office fell almost 56% from last weekend, it did well enough to stay on top for another week with $21.9 million, for almost half-a-billion-dollars domestically to date, aiming for a billion worldwide with $914.4 million so far.

But in a very close second was “Hidden Figures” which earned a solid $21.8 million. In fact, the film actually beat “Rogue One” on Friday out-grossing it by $1.5 million. But those “Star Wars” geeks had their say and “Rogue One” beat “Hidden Figures” on Saturday and won the weekend, but just by a whisker. Although “Figures” had the highest per-screen average for any film in the top 20 this weekend, and was made on a very modest production budget of $25 million (though it looks like it cost twice that amount on the screen); the extremely positive word of mouth that it’s getting should help it become a very successful and profitable film for Fox.

Meanwhile “Fences” dropped from last week’s 6th place to 9th with $4.7 million, and $40.6 million so far to date. Not bad for the also very modestly budgeted film; and it looks like it will top out around the $55 million mark.

One question this weekend that remains unanswered is, who exactly was asking for yet another “Underworld” movie? The 5th film in the franchise, “Underworld: Blood Wars,” opened this weekend in the USA, and I’ll bet no one can tell the difference between this one and all the others that came before it. With the exception of the 3rd film (“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”), they all starred Kate Beckinsale who you would think would have given up the lead role a long time ago, unless her phone stopped ringing.

The first “Underworld” movie, which came out 14 years ago in 2003, was a very modestly made film that became a surprise box office sleeper hit. And since then, for more than a decade, they studio (Screen Gems) has cranked one out about every 3 years, typically releasing them in January when they seem to think no one is looking I suppose. However, the films average out around $55-60 million domestically in box office, and perform well overseas, proving what we have already suspected – that the French have no taste.

And for this cold weekend in January, we are treated to another “Underworld” movie, which came in fourth place with $13.1 million, which is the lowest opening to date for films in the franchise, by $10-12 million less, meaning that this could finally bring an end to the series. That is unless those French filmgoers go crazy for it like that did the other films.

The top 12 grossing movies for the weekend follow below:

1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story BV $21,972,000 Total: $477,273,354
2) Hidden Figures Fox $21,800,000 Total: $24,754,178
3) Sing Uni. $19,573,670 Total: $213,373,315
4) Underworld: Blood Wars SGem $13,100,000 Total: $13,100,000
5) La La Land LG/S $10,000,000 Total: $51,656,587
6) Passengers Sony $8,800,000 Total: $80,893,043
7) Why Him? Fox $6,500,000 Total: $48,559,553
8) Moana BV $6,413,000 Total: $225,394,182
9) Fences Par. $4,700,000 Total: $40,663,264
10) Assassin’s Creed Fox $3,800,000 Total: $49,505,783
11) Manchester by the Sea RAtt. $2,473,985 Total: $33,814,342
12) Lion Wein. $2,021,000 -11.1% 600 +75 $3,368 Total: $9,813,719