How Hollywood scored a near-record box office this summer

Finding doryPixar‘Finding Dory.’

With Labour Day upon us, it’s time to shut the door on the 2016 summer movie season.

Though there were some major hits that helped the North American box office rake in $4.5 billion (according to comScore, via The Hollywood Reporter), it will be best remembered for the bombs that were scattered throughout the season.

That’s the second-best earning for a summer movie season ever, just behind 2013’s $4.8 billion (and 1 per cent over last year’s), but looking back, the summer had the potential to be an all-time high.

Sadly, Hollywood gave audiences flat sequels and reboots that seemed out of date or just uninspired. Among the high-budget duds: “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” and the epic fail “Ben-Hur.”

Bad mums STX Entertainment finalSTX Entertainment‘Bad Mums.’

Yet the summer was saved by Disney. The studio had the top two domestic earners of the summer — ironically, sequels: “Finding Dory” ($479.6 million) and “Captain America: Civil War” ($407.8 million). That’s a big reason why you won’t see Hollywood studios reversing their addiction to sequels during the summer season in years to come.

A pleasant surprise amid all this was how well certain mid-budget titles performed this summer.

From thrillers like “The Conjuring 2,” “Lights Out,” and last weekend’s No. 1 movie “Don’t Breathe,” to the comedy “Bad Mums” (which has made over $100 million worldwide on a $20 million budget, to date), audiences sought out and kept coming back to movies that had more of a draw because of their genre, stars, and old-fashioned entertainment value rather than major CGI effects and superheroes.

So Disney was certainly the foundation that supported the summer’s near-record revenue, but it was the success of smaller titles that got those hot months across the finish line.

Hollywood, take note. Please.

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