Harvey Weinstein overshadows the 2017 box office results

Cairns on Cinema

John Cairns

Welcome to my annual look at box office results for the year just ended in Hollywood.

Box office results really did take a back seat to a lot of other things that were happening this year.

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In particular, the scandal of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein put a microscope on the whole treatment of women by those holding positions of power in the entertainment industry.

The scandal saw Weinstein booted out of his position atop the Weinstein Company. He basically became a pariah as far as the industry is concerned. Moreover, the fallout extended well beyond Hollywood.

Other Hollywood players as well as those in the media and politics were toppled, including TV news personalities Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose as well as the Senator from Minnesota Al Franken – who, I feel compelled to point out, used to work in the entertainment industry himself.

As I write this the Golden Globe awards were set to go on the weekend, with several actresses planning to wear black to the awards show as their way to draw attention to the issues and to call for changes to be made.

Already, the way things are done in the entertainment industry is changing, with new rules and procedures ushered in to try and stop exactly the sort of “casting couch” activities that Weinstein and others have been accused of.

But you have to ask why it had to take this long for people to finally put their foot down and put a stop to this activity? Weinstein’s general behavior towards people was no state secret. Seth MacFarlane even publicly called Weinstein out for his antics when hosting the Oscars years ago.

I believe I have said enough about Weinstein and this scandal. I have the entire box office report for 2017 to get through. Suffice it to say it was a bad year for Hollywood there, too.

The summer box office, in particular, was the worst in over a decade, helping drive the overall domestic 2017 box office into the red. The domestic gross for 2017 was $11.066 billion, a decline from last year of 2.7 percent. Ouch!

As for the major studios, it was a big year for two in particular. I mentioned in a previous column that this is a Disney world and we are simply living in it. However, I should point out that Disney has to share the world with Warner Bros., because they had a good year, too.

In particular, it was a decent year for the WB’s DC characters, helped by the success of Wonder Woman during the summer. But it wasn’t as good as it could have been, because their November blockbuster Justice League fell flat with audiences. According to the numbers it has only made $226 million domestic, which is far short of what was expected.

In any event, here is the rundown of the numbers from the top 12 releases from 2017 at the domestic box office as of Jan. 4. Keep in mind these numbers continue to change as several of the recent releases are still hauling in lots of money at the cinemas.  

1 Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney), released Dec 15: $539,388,403.

2 Beauty and the Beast (2017) (Disney), rel. March 17: $504,014,165

3 Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.), June 2: $412,563,408

4 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Disney), rel. May 5: $389,813,101

5 Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony), rel. July 7: $334,201,140

6 It (Warner Bros.), rel. Sept. 8: $327,481,748

7 Thor: Ragnarok (Disney), rel. Nov. 3: $311,682,332

8 Despicable Me 3 (Universal), rel. June 30: $264,624,300

9 Logan (Fox), rel. March 3: $226,277,068

10 Justice League            (Warner Bros.), rel. Nov. 17: $226,160,932

11 The Fate of the Furious (Universal), rel. April 14: $225,764,765

12 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony), rel. Dec. 20: $195,431,898.

I should point out that at the rate this latest Jumanji movie is going, it probably should settle somewhere over the $300-million mark by the time its run is done, so it will surely push that hapless Justice League movie out of the Top 10.

What struck me about this list of movies is how many Disney or Warner Bros. movies made up the top grossing movies of the year. It’s six out of the top seven movies for 2017.

Oh, and by the way, Disney is also taking over Fox, which has a movie in the top 10 (Logan). Counting them, it’ll be seven out of the top 10 movies for 2017 dominated by two companies.

And of course, all the usual suspects are up there in terms of franchises: Star Wars, Marvel, DC, you name it. As usual, Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Thor, and the Guardians continue to top DC in overall ticket sales, even with Wonder Woman doing so well for DC during the summer. The one real surprise is It; you don’t usually see movies from the horror genre doing as well as this did.

Of course, I called Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s victory as box office champion for 2017 long before it was released. Really, even those chimpanzees in the cast of Planet of the Apes could have predicted this outcome.

There really are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Star Wars domination of the box office. Worldwide, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has made $1.1 billion so far, which is still behind the $1.26 billion of Beauty and the Beast and the $1.23 billion of Fate of the Furious, but it won’t be long before it surpasses those numbers to win the worldwide box office, too.

That is about all I want to say about the box office of 2017. Needless to say, it was not the most important story to come out of Hollywood during the year. Hopefully, 2018 will be better.  

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