May 2017 Box Office Recap
By Steven Slater
June 6, 2017
The month with the shortest name has typically been synonymous with the biggest movies ever since Star Wars opened on May 25th, 1977. May also has some of the biggest box office totals, and often the opening weekend record holder has debuted in May. On the one hand, this streak technically continued with a huge movie coming out again this month. On the other hand, everything else sucked. By itself, the number one movie made almost half of the money earned in theaters this month. Its opening weekend is almost equal to the combined opening weekends of the rest of the top ten. Maybe it’s Netflix. Maybe it’s the quality of the films. Maybe it’s the repetitive nature of most blockbusters these days. But the bottom line is the box office did not do very well in May, with one exception.
1) Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
Opening Weekend: $146.5 million
May Total: $344.3 million
The number one movie of (insert month) is (insert title) released by Disney. Copy, paste. Copy, paste. This month it is Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Believe it or not, this was just the third movie released by Disney this year, and the fourth to really chart for 2017. This has easily put the Mouse House above all other studios, while having the fewest releases. In other words, their batting average is ridiculously high. Guardians was easily the dominant release of a lackluster month. What is most surprising about this is how quickly Guardians went from an obscure property to one of the biggest titles in the MCU, even without the benefit of crossing over with other Marvel properties (yet). Not only that, but it received reviews almost as good as the first film, so it continues Marvel’s eerily consistent trend with regards to box office and critical reception. Maybe they should make an Oscar for Best Franchise Film to keep the industry relevant.
Disney has had an unbelievable track record that simply becomes more and more unbelievable as time goes on. The first Guardians movie earned $773 million worldwide, which means Vol. 2 will definitely reach the billion dollar mark (it’s already at $800 million), becoming the second Disney property this year to do so, and making half of all movies that have crossed that line Disney-released titles. Considering they just opened the Avatar theme park, I think they are the Standard Oil of movies at this point.
2) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Opening Weekend: $63 million
May Total: $89.6 million
Follow me down the rabbit hole to second place...let’s see, it’s around here somewhere, aha! There it is. Let me dust it off. You probably already forgot it was here. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (aka Vol. 5) is not too surprisingly the second-biggest film of the month, even though it just came out over Memorial Day weekend, even though it had a disappointing opening weekend, and even though it had the worst reviews of any Pirates film so far...by 1%.
I suppose one could not have expected Disney to release yet another $100 million opener, although this definitely continues their overall winning streak, as there is an outside chance of this hitting $1 billion at the global box office. Pirates opened to $63 million over the holiday weekend, which is way off from the series’ high of $135 million for Dead Man’s Chest 11 years ago (once the all-time opening weekend champ). In May it has earned $89.6 million, and might struggle to reach $200 million domestic. Look, I love the first movie, but Depp and Co. are burning through the franchise’s goodwill faster than a White House communications team. I say either end the series, or, in 2010s fashion, reboot it with another actor. We have exhausted 1980s properties (what about E.T.!?), might as well move on to the 90s and 2000s.