July 2017 Box Office Recap
By Steven Slater
August 3, 2017
6) Girls Trip
Opening Weekend: $31.2 million
Monthly Total: $67.2 million
Okay, this is getting a bit creepy. This is the fifth movie on this list to have a Rotten Tomatoes score near 90%. Either July was the greatest summer movie month in years, or reviewers are simply overjoyed to have two decent hours away from reality these days. Girls Trip broke out the way many films targeted towards minorities have in recent memory, and as mentioned received some stellar reviews for a comedy. With a $31.2 million opening from just 2,500 venues (Spiderman opened in almost 4,400), this one should have legs even Nolan might envy (just look at that poster). You can bet the Girls are going to have a lot more trips in the coming years.
7) Wonder Woman
Monthly Total: $60.8 million
Wonder Woman played through the entire month of June, and yet it still had enough gas to achieve seventh on the list for July. Just barely charting in the top ten for the ninth weekend, this is the success story of the summer. After another week or so, this should just barely top $400 million, putting one movie in each $100 million bracket until later this year. Beauty and the Beast is over $500 million, Wonder Woman $400, Guardians $300, and then a bunch in the $200s. Wonder Woman is also the rare film where the domestic gross may be higher than international gross, perhaps since this is the first encounter most audiences have with the character. Captain America performed like that initially as well, and then by Winter Soldier, the international grosses were almost double the domestic ones. Although given how strongly this performed right out of the gate, diminishing domestic returns similar to the original Spiderman trilogy might be expected. Look for Wonder Woman to provide a lasting boost to her story and perhaps the larger DC universe.
8) Transformers: The Last Knight
Monthly Total: $38.9 million
After seventh there is a bit of a cliff, where no film earned in July what Spider-Man earned its first day. There is also a reviews cliff, as after this the films are no longer stellar, although Transformers is the only true review bomb on this list. Can we please say goodbye to this franchise, or at least Michael Bay’s handling of it? Maybe I am wrong, and there are lots of people who want Bayhem, the whole Bayhem, and nothing but the Bayhem, so help them God. Yes, the visual effects are astonishing, but what does that really mean anymore? When was the last time a film had atrocious visual effects? I need meat on my bones, not really glittery fancy bones, damn it! Michael Bay, if you are listening, I would love to see you film Waiting for Godot. Please.
9) Valerian: City of a Thousand Planets
Opening Weekend: $17 million
Monthly Total: $31 million
Luc Besson is someone who has put his mark on the film world. I am someone who counts Leon and The Fifth Element among my favorite films, and the glimmers I saw from Valerian gave me hope. Alas, it was not to be, as his spark seems to have faded (Lucy was bonkers in a way but still lifeless), and Valerian is going to be a huge financial failure, in some sense. Even though most costs were apparently covered through foreign pre-sales, no one is coming out of this looking good. I think a movie like this makes the spectacular success of Avatar all the more impressive as time goes on; a bit ironic as I know someone said this was the best use of 3D they had seen since Cameron’s film. This will be in the discount bin at Walmart soon, and will be lucky to match its rumored $200 million budget even with worldwide grosses factored in.
10) Cars 3
Monthly Total: $32.3 million
The tenth highest grosser in July yet again continues the trend of franchises’ diminishing returns, as Cars 3 will be the second lowest domestic film in Pixar history, and even overseas grosses are fairly abysmal. If the movies do not really matter to the bottom line, will Cars transition into something else to keep the franchise fresh in children’s minds? Perhaps it is better suited as a video game franchise, where kids race Lightning McQueen around their living room with augmented reality? Either way, Pixar has been having a hit with every other film recently, so perhaps Coco will strike it big. If not, Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 are on the horizon, so undoubtedly the future looks rosy for them either way. Cars 3 will peter out around $150 million domestic, and perhaps only match that from foreign theaters.
July will go down as the biggest month of 2017 so far, even if nothing about it quite felt spectacular. June had Wonder Woman, February had Get Out, May had Guardians. I think the biggest story this July is simply the quality of most of the releases, as only eight films had wide debuts, and half of those had exceptionally good reviews. Six out of the top seven earning films had Rotten Tomatoes scores around 90% this month! One might even get some Oscar love when all is said and done. Is it a better thing that quality matters more to the slice of pie a film carves out, or worse that the pie itself seems to be shrinking? Given that July was a big month for box office, relatively speaking, and the movies were often original and stellar, please let this send all the right signals to Hollywood. Start a #freshfilms meme, or maybe #ilikeditbetterwhentheywereoriginal. Poop Emoji.