Expect another summer of surprises — and wipeouts — at the global box office. The big question is whether summer 2016 can match 2015, when revenue during the May-to-Labor Day corridor came in at $9.5 billion, including $4.5 billion in North America, second only to 2013's $4.9 billion. Last year's boon was led by Jurassic World, which stomped to an unexpected $652.3 million domestically and $1.67 billion globally. But there were also high-profile bombs (remember Tomorrowland, Terminator: Genisys and Fantastic Four?).
Captain America: Civil War, kicking off summer in high style May 6, already has grossed $296 million domestically and $943 million globally as of May 16. And Jodie Foster's adult-skewing Money Monster, starring George Clooney, opened to a better-than-expected $14.9 million over the May 13-15 weekend after a splashy debut in Cannes. "In reality, there is no way to know how each movie will perform, and all it takes is one or two overperformers to be the difference between a massive, record-breaking summer and a lackluster one at the box office," says comScore's Paul Dergarabedian.
All told, there will be 55 wide releases, compared with 49 last year, from the six majors, new studio STX Entertainment, Lionsgate and independent distributors (insiders agree Disney will be the big winner with Civil War, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The BFG and Finding Dory). And then there's the healthy menu of indie films that will launch in limited runs including Maggie's Plan, starring Greta Gerwig, Bill Hader and Ethan Hawke (Sony Classics, May 20); Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon (Amazon/Broad Green, June 24); Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (Fox Searchlight, July 22); and exec turned first-time director James Schamus' Indignation (Roadside, July 29). And Focus Features/Laika could whip up strong family business with Kubo and the Two Strings (Aug. 19).
Among tentpoles, box-office analyst Jeff Bock says no film arrives with more baggage than Sony's Ghostbusters (already under scrutiny for its lackluster trailer). "The largest hurdle to overcome with reboots of well-liked films is this: If it's not better than the original, why should audiences bother?"