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Summer 2015's Box-Office Hits, Sleepers and Flops

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | September 8, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | September 8, 2015 |

Most of us know what worked at the box-office this summer because we have eyes and ears, and when something works, Hollywood lets us know. Jurassic World was the biggest movie of the summer, both domestically and internationally, while Avengers: Age of Ultron made $943 million worldwide and is considered by some as a disappointment (it did, in fact, earn $600 million less than the first Avengers film). We know that Inside/Out ($735 million and counting) was a huge hit because it opened in June, and you can still find it in some theaters. Worldwide, The Minions ($1 billion) was even bigger, because the Minions speak internationally. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation ($511 million) solidified — again — Tom Cruise’s place among the top of the heap of action stars, though you may not realize that Pitch Perfect 2 outgrossed it domestically over the summer by $1 million (Rogue Nation will undoubtedly pass it this week), but obviously didn’t have the international appeal (it topped out at $283 million).

Ant-Man’s $384 million worldwide was enough to assure a sequel, and though the $450 million of The Rock’s San Andreas outgrossed it, let us hope that Dwayne Johnson doesn’t have to rescue his family from yet another earthquake anytime soon.

That Mad Max: Fury Road ($374 million) was a hit this summer should come as no surprise, although many of us may be disappointed that the summer’s best action film didn’t outgross the competition.

Meanwhile, comedy was dominated by women: Pitch Perfect 2, Melissa McCarthy’s Spy and Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck were the most popular funny movies of the summer with domestic audiences, while the more male-oriented comedies Ted 2 ($201 million internationally) and Pixels ($194 million worldwide) failed to live up to expectations (the Adam Sandler film, alas, will make a profit thanks to international audiences).

The surprise hit of the summer? Straight Outta Compton and it’s $150 million gross, and Terminator:Genisys which has managed $435 million so far, despite failing in America ($89 million).

There were a few sleeper hits, as well. Magic Mike XXL mustered $117 million on an $18 million budget, the Vacation reboot tripled its budget with $91 million; Southpaw quietly made $70 million on a $30 million budget; and the $110 million made by Insidious Chapter 3 (on a $10 million budget) is probably enough to ensure another chapter. My favorite little movie that could? Paper Towns, which made $81 million on a $12 million budget.

Believe it or not, there were even a few small-budget hits, too. The Gallows (a terrible movie) made $22 million on a meager $100,000 budget. Dope ($17 million on a $700,000 budget) is a cult hit; and though we don’t know the budget on Carey Mulligan’s Far from a Maddening Crowd, it’s safe to assume it’s significantly less than the $30 million it made internationally.

And then there were the bombs. Tomorrowland’s $200 million on a $190 million budget kicked off the summer, but it was Fantastic Four ($155 million on a $122 million budget) that will probably cause the most devastation to its studio. Man from UNCLE ($86 million on a $75 million budget) failed to muster much enthusiasm; Entourage ($43 million internationally on a $30 million budget) failed to repeat the success of Sex and the City; Cameron Crowe’s Aloha ($26 million on a $37 million budget) does not bode well for the future of Cameron Crowe’s film career; and Zac Efron’s low budget We Are Your Friends ($3.3 million) couldn’t even make back its marketing budget. Plus, the expected indie hit of the summer, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, didn’t earn back its $8 million production budget, either, tapping out at a little more than $6 million.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.