Biggest Box Office Surprises of 2016

Deadpool
20th Century Fox
01
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Biggest Box Office Surprises of 2016

Deadpool
20th Century Fox

The success of a film is mainly based on its box office results, and Hollywood concentrates its efforts on making films that the studios think will pack theaters. But just like in any other business, customers are not always predictable. Movies that seem like can't-miss blockbusters could end up selling much fewer tickets than expected. Also, films that are expected to do moderately well can turn out to far exceed expectations in ticket sales.

The following examples from 2016 show that there's no such thing as a box office "sure thing," and that there are still some surprises left in show business!

(All box office data from Box Office Mojo)

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Sequels to Blockbusters Underperform in the U.S.

Alice Through The Looking Glass
Walt Disney Pictures

It's no secret that Hollywood loves sequels and franchises. After all, they're usually the closest thing to a box office "sure thing." If the last movie did well, shouldn't the sequel find the same audience?

While 2016 had its share of successful sequels (Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory), most of the sequels released this year didn't do as well as their predecessors. In fact, many of them were outright box office bombs.

Though some of these movies ended up making much more money overseas, their domestic box office results range from disappointing to depressing for the studios behind them:

  • Now You See Me 2 ($52 million less than 2013's Now You See Me)
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant ($63 million less than 2015's The Divergent Series: Insurgent)
  • Jason Bourne ($65 million less than 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum)
  • Star Trek Beyond ($70 million less than 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse ($78 million less than 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past)
  • Ice Age: Collision Course ($97 million less than 2012's Ice Age: Continental Drift)
  • Neighbors 2 ($95 million less than 2014's Neighbors)
  • The Huntsman: Winter's War ($107 million less than 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows ($109 million less than 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 ($181 million less than 2002's My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
  • Independence Day: Resurgence ($203 million less than 1996's Independence Day)
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass ($257 million less than 2010's Alice in Wonderland)
03
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'The Mermaid' Becomes the Highest-Grossing Film in Chinese History

The Mermaid
China Film

There's a good chance that you haven't even heard of The Mermaid even though the movie grossed $553.8 million worldwide.

China is the second-biggest market for films, which is why Hollywood always hopes that their big budget movies will play well there. Case in point -- both Furious 7 and Transformers: Age of Extinction each grossed over $300 million in China alone. So, China's box office can be a game changer.

But that's nothing compared to The Mermaid, a quirky comedy written and directed by Stephen Chow, which grossed $527 million at the Chinese box office. Despite the massive success of The Mermaid in its homeland, it grossed just $3.2 million at the U.S. box office.

So while Hollywood is desperate to top the Chinese market, even the biggest blockbusters can't beat something homegrown

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Disney Captures More Than 25% of the U.S. Box Office

Finding Dory
Pixar

Disney grossed over $2.7 billion dollars at the U.S. box office in 2016, meaning the studio accounted for over 25% of the market this year. Disney also became the first studio to ever gross $7 billion at the worldwide box office in a single year.

To put this in perspective, Universal Studios became the studio with the highest market share ever when it had 21% in 2015 (thank to Jurassic World, Furious 7, and Minions). Disney is a whole 4% higher than that mark in 2016. It was a tremendous year for Disney, with films like Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, The Jungle Book, Zootopia, Star Wars: Rogue One, and Doctor Strange all topping the box office.

 

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'Deadpool' Outgrosses 'Batman v Superman' at the U.S. Box Office

Deadpool
20th Century Fox

One would think a movie that stars the two most popular superheroes -- plus Wonder Woman added to the mix! -- would shatter box office records. But Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't win over critics and left some comic book fans cold. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Deadpool -- based on a cult favorite comedic anti-hero who is little known by non-comic book fans -- was a massive success. While Batman v Superman did gross more worldwide ($873 million vs. $782 million), Deadpool made more money at the domestic box office ($363 million vs. $330 million).

Considering the budget for Deadpool was about 1/5 that of Batman v Superman, Deadpool ended up making far more money in theaters than Batman v Superman. That can only be seen as a massive win for Fox's Deadpool and a disappointment for Warner Bros.