The Year Ahead in Movies: 2016

The Year Ahead in Movies: 2016

There is a lot to happen yet for movies released in 2015.

Some movies will still make significant money…there are some which will make more than half of their box office in 2016. That’s why we keep tracking them in

at least until no 2015 release is in the top 10…which last year was months into 2015. This year, it wouldn’t surprise me if The Force Awakens is still a domestic box office force (so to speak) into the summer blockbuster release period. Daddy’s Home and Sisters are strong rolling into the new year, and the Revenant and The Hateful Eight have just gotten started.

Oscar nominations (and to a lesser degree, other awards) can also affect it.

With the first releases coming this Friday, though, it’s a good time to look ahead.

2015 was the biggest USA box office year to date…and it’s quite likely it will be bested in 2016.

That’s not to say that any movie will have the excitement and cultural impact of The Force Awakens…I don’t see that happening.

However, when they figure the box office for the year, it’s not based on movies just released that year…it’s movies in the theatre that year.

Last year, American Sniper, released in 2014, contributed significantly to the 2015 box office.

This year, the same thing will happen with The Force Awakens…but even more so.

I expect The Force Awakens to make more than half of its domestic box office in 2016…which would make it one of the biggest movies of both years. One reason for that? I think Disney will keep it in theatres, and even “re-release” it maybe twice (it will really be resurges). I could see them running it as a midnight show all year. Then, resurging it (maybe with the first Star Wars movie from 1977) on May 4th (Star Wars Day “May the 4th be with you”) and as a boost for Rogue One, the first Star Wars “anthology” movie in December. Rogue One is very important to Disney’s strategy of releasing a main story movie in odd numbered years, and an anthology movie in even numbered years. If R1 flopped (it won’t) that would be a strategic challenge.

I’m confident that January 2016 will be a record January, and I think that winning streak will likely extend into February.

What about other movies?

One interesting lesson from 2015 was that delayed sequels can work very well…better, arguably, than reboots or immediate sequels (although some of the latter were very profitable). With a delayed sequel, you can still respect the movies people remember, while introducing new elements. The Force Awakens did that very well, but so did 2015’s second most profitable movie, Jurassic World

2015 The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies

Based on that, we might expect big things out of delayed sequels, notably Independence Day: Resurgent and Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo).

However, I think there may be more to it than simply being a delayed sequel. I suspect that having less-well received sequels (or prequels) may also be part of it…a good delayed sequel can be seen as a redemption. I’m guessing people might be looking at a sequel to Jaws…

What about the new Ghostbusters? Well, it’s not really clear yet if that is a reboot, or a delayed sequel…some of the original stars are credited for the new one, but we don’t know how significant their roles will be (the original Star Wars cast was very featured in the Force Awakens, and B.D.  Wong significantly returned to the role of Dr. Henry Wu in Jurassic World).

Let’s quickly define some terms the way we use them, then take a look at a selection of other movies which will be released in the USA in 2016. Oh, and let me first explain why we are looking at the USA.

Certainly, the rest of the world is important to the movie box office…in a typical week, the top ten box office  movies worldwide include some which are not having an impact in the USA, and may not even have been released into theatres there.

Some American movies do better around  the world than others. Typically, less dialog is a good thing: action movies do better globally than comedies do. Humor, in particular, can be culture dependent, since it tends to refer to shared pop culture and experiences.

It’s simply that it is easier to focus on one country, and I can give you a more complete picture. I am in the USA, and even though it is definitely not the whole of what happens in the world with moviegoers, it does tend to have the biggest slice of the top movies.

Looking at the top ten right now, based on the

Rentrak numbers

seven of the top ten worldwide releases right now are American movies.

So, if you have to cover one country, the USA is the most representative.

Okay, those quick definitions:

  • Sequel: continues a story chronologically
  • Prequel: part of the same story, but happens prior to what we’ve seen before
  • Sidequel: in the same “universe” as what we know, but focusing on different characters or events…not part of the same through story
  • Delayed sequel: a sequel released after a significant gap of time (let’s call it at least five years)…this is a new definition for us this year
  • Remake: retelling a story, using the same characters and basic plot
  • Reboot: new actors, and may not follow the same rules as the previous work
  • Pedigeeked originals: original stories with filmmakers who have significant geek-friendly credits, or based on geek-friendly works (books, TV shows, toys, and so on)

Here we go!

Happy New Fear!

January has been a good month in recent years for one horror movie to make our list with at least $40m dogro…so that suggests that The Forest should do fairly well…although it could be The Boy later this month (or both).

Superhero round-up

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice can’t help but open big on March 26th…but I have to say, the trailers have not convinced me. Is this a $200m dogro movie? Sure. Is it a $500m movie? I wouldn’t bet on it.

The other big DC movie is Suicide Squad. While we can say this is a supervillain rather than a superhero movie, it feels a lot buzzier and original to me…this could be one of the top ten movies this year.

Over on the Marvel side, there are five (!) based on the comic books pictures:

  • Captain America: Civil War…expensive to make and an all-star movie, as well as introducing Black Panther. This is going to dogro a lot of money (as well as succeeding internationally)…but may not be the most profitable movie (Age of Ultron was number four on our 2015 The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies, behind The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Minions)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: directed by series auteur Bryan Singer, starring Jennifer Lawrence and The Force Awakens Oscar Isaac, this may do better than some might guess
  • Gambit: Channing Tatum
  • Doctor Strange: not your typical Marvel superhero, and with a different tone, this one does star Benedict Cumberbatch. Guardians of the Galaxy were less well-known, but that movie did very well. It’s not as big a question mark as…
  • Deadpool: an R-rated movie, starring someone whose last superhero movie did not win the hearts and dollars of the public, this one is clearly a risk. It’s unlikely that anyone else has promoted a movie as much as Ryan Reynolds has promoted this one, and it is going to have some X-Men crossover…but we just have to hope it doesn’t do to Marvel movies what Abbott & Costello did to the Universal Horror movies. I think that’s unlikely, but I could see this ending up with under $120m dogro

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are neither Marvel nor DC, but are comic book superheroes. This sequel to 2014’s reboot should break $100m, even if it doesn’t match the $190m of its predecessor.


  • Star Trek Beyond: to quote the classic “other”, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” I want it to do well, I really do, but I’m unconvinced by the trailers or by the choice of someone perceived as an action movie director (Justin Lin of several Fast & Furious movies, but not the emotional most recent one). Star Trek has action, but is not an action franchise
  • Kung Fu Panda 3: it will clearly be popular
  • Ice Age: Collision Course
  • Now You See Me 2: is this going to capture the success of the first one? That would be pulling a rabbit out of a hat…part of the success of the first movie was due to the novelty and surprise, and that’s hard to replicate
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant…YA adaptations have entered that awkward stage, but this series has done acceptably well
  • The Huntsman Winter’s War: an odd duck sequel without its top-billed star, but with a geek-friendly cast…this one risks being an underachiever in the USA, but should do well internationally and in secondary distribution (especially streaming services)
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass: Johnny Depp got respect for Black Mass in 2015, but has been a risk at the box office in the past few years (see Will Into the Woods reverse the Depp Dip? for details,  including a graph). Again, this can rely on international box office and streaming, but could be between $100m and $200m in dogro
  • Finding Dory: the sequel to Finding Nemo isn’t a guaranteed superhit, but should do quite well, especially with the promotional push from Ellen DeGeneres. This may look like a rebound from The Good Dinosaur, which still did fine. $300m? Yes, quite possible. $500m? Feels unlikely
  • Ride Along 2: this isn’t going for a homerun, and should hit its goals
  • Inferno: this fits our definition of a delayed sequel…it’s been five years since Angels & Demons, the last time Ron Howard directed Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. Angels & Demons was not as well received as The Da Vinci Code…hm, I don’t feel the buzz, but this may outperform expectation
  • Matt Damon as Jason Bourne: it doesn’t have a title at time of writing, but does have Damon working with director Paul Greengrass again…it’s only been four years since The Bourne Legacy, but feels like a delayed sequel
  • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising: it should meet its expectations…not beating its ancestor, but making a profit
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Don’t look at dogro on this, look at worldwide
  • Other sequels include: The Conjuring 2; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny; Barbershop: the Next Cut; The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun; The Purge 3; God’s Not Dead 2; Underworld 5; Bad Santa 2; Zoolander 2; My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Perhaps more to come in a part 2. I want to at least address January releases before they hit the theatres, and this is long enough for now. 🙂

January wide releases:

  • The Forest: January horror, maybe $40m to $80m
  • The Revenant released in 2015, should get boosted by Oscar noms and other awards…likely to go over $100m dogro
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: directed by Michael Bay, no box office stars (but not unknowns), tied up in politics, rated R…I could see this not doing well
  • Norm of the North: the first kids’ animated movie of the year, should do respectably, but I don’t expect a big hit
  • Ride Along 2: will hit its goals
  • The 5th Wave: YA adaptation…I think Chloe Grace Moretz is terrific, but I have my doubts on this one
  • The Boy: January horror, I like the commercials…maybe $80m to $100m?
  • Dirty Grandpa: Robert DeNiro and Zac Efron in an R-rated comedy…I’m iffy on this. Efron hasn’t been box office gold, and DeNiro is everything…great box office, and lesser performers (but that doesn’t mean lesser performances as an actor). I think this may be more of a secondary market movie
  • Fifty Shades of Black: parody comedy with Marlon Wayons…this one is very likely to be golden (dogro three time production budget)
  • The Finest Hours…feels like a serious movie for a January about an historical rescue. I’m thinking it’s not getting to my $80m slot, and could maybe get to the $40m
  • Jane Got a Gun: Natalie Portman is a star and producer of this Weinstein Company Western…I’d put it the dogro around $60m, although it could go considerably higher or lower
  • Kung Fu Panda 3: should be solid…I’d see it as $150m plus, but not $300m

I don’t usually make specific predictions like this, and it will be interesting to see how I do. 🙂

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

3 Responses to “The Year Ahead in Movies: 2016”

  1. Harold Delk Says:

    Not related to post: I just made my first phone call via Alexa. Activate the Ooma Skill and it works. “Alexa, ask ooma to call 555-123-3456 and it works. At end of call is option to name the number so next call you can ask Alexa to have ooma call Bufo without giving the number. Fairly good voice quality.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      Unfortunately, that Skill isn’t working for me…and Amazon confirms that I’m not the only one. I’m going to write about it shortly…

      • Harold Delk Says:

        Amazon must be working on the app/skill because today when I placed a call it prompted me to add a nickname prior to dialing out. A glitch (mine, not theirs) I discovered is that if the outbound number (the one you entered when setting up the skill) is attached to a Google Voice number and you dial to a phone number attached to the same GV number the call will fail because it rings both phones. I reported this to CS so they could pass the info on. My purpose was to try to setup Alexa as an intercom system. Guess I didn’t think that one through the logic machine very well as I setup a loop.

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