The top 10 Hollywood movies at the (lacklustre) US box office this summer

With eight of the top 10 franchise movies serving up more of the same, is it any wonder ticket sales hit an 11-year low – even if the films themselves aren’t bad?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 12:03pm

It’s been a cruel summer at the US box office. Ticket sales rang up US$3.7 billion, down 14.2 per cent from 2016, according to comScore. It’s the first summer since 2006 that total hasn’t cracked US$4 billion. And last weekend was the worst in 16 years.

But the news wasn’t all bad. These 10 movies managed to conquer the rest – and most of them were pretty good, too. Here’s what they had going for them:

1. Wonder Woman (US$406.2 million)

When a superhero film starts a social movement and has people talking about an Oscar run, it’s done something right. Patty Jenkins’ first-world-war-set phenomenon treated the character with grace and respect, and Gal Gadot cemented herself as a comic-book icon.

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2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (US$389.3 million)

Marvel’s cosmic misfits proved they were just as magical a second time. Kurt Russell played a living planet, character actor Michael Rooker stole the show, and a talking raccoon and his alien tree friend continued to win our hearts.

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3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (US$318.8 million)

How do you prevent Spider-fatigue with the sixth movie starring the famous wall crawler? Put Tom Holland in red and blue tights and toss him into high school drama to appeal, in multicultural fashion, to a previously untapped audience for Marvel: young adults.

Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts on his fanboy credentials, and the prospects of Marvel Cinematic Universe

4. Despicable Me 3 (US$254.5 million)

Grus are better than one: Steve Carell’s reformed supervillain got a twin brother, Dru, in the threequel. Adults and children alike had something to watch: the bad guy with a seriously ’80s throwback vibe and the ubiquitous kid-friendly cuteness of the Minions.

5. Dunkirk (US$172.4 million)

Christopher Nolan effectively took audiences to the front line of battle with no easing up on intensity, and his second world war thriller was one of his finest (and shortest) filmmaking achievements. One Direction fans could breathe a sigh of relief, too – that Harry Styles kid can act!

Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan on casting Harry Styles, selling a British story in the US, and the challenges of filming it

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (US$172 million)

This franchise should have sailed by now. Instead, the fifth chapter manages to be the best Pirates since the first one – not a high bar – and Johnny Depp, especially punch-drunk as the boozy Captain Jack Sparrow, still has a little box-office swagger.

7. Cars 3 (US$149 million)

Notoriously the weak link in Pixar’s storied franchises, Cars finally kicked into high gear with the third film in the series. All of the big-eyed anthropomorphic vehicles children love are there, yet it’s also a surprisingly deep exploration of legacy, ageing and female empowerment.

8. War for the Planet of the Apes (US$142.8 million)

Amid a season of superhero blockbusters and lighter fare, what seemed to be the finale to the acclaimed Apes trilogy provided audiences with something more serious to chew on than popcorn. Andy Serkis gives his most Oscar-ready motion-capture performance yet.

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9. Transformers: The Last Knight (US$130.2 million)

Yeah, this one blows our minds, too. It’s the lowest performer of the franchise – by a lot – though the haul’s enough for it to rank decently high. Huge explosions and transforming robots punching other robots have created a devoted following for these excoriated action epics.

10. Girls Trip (US$108 million)

Whereas almost every other R-rated comedy underwhelmed, Queen Latifah and friends unleashed the summer’s biggest surprise, a raucous, female-fronted laugh fest that will go down as the movie that made Tiffany Haddish an insta-star.