Despite studios crying that they didn’t make enough money this year (maybe it’d help if they stopped hiring all these abusers and put an end to all their scandals?), 2017 provided a smorgasbord of movies. As usual, we got the big blockbusters, but we also received some surprising box office hits that no one saw coming. To date, 16 films have grossed over $500 million.
Thinking back to January, would you have predicted that the likes of Justice League would be toppled by something such as Wolf Warrior 2? It’s crazy! The question is, did many of the so-called blockbusters underperform, or were the smaller flicks really exceptional this year?
Whichever way you look at it, it’s good to see the status quo ruffled and the audiences taking more risks with lesser-known movies at the cinema. After all, it gets boring if it’s always the usual suspects dominating the charts.
In celebration, we’ve picked out the 10 films with the most surprising box office performances in 2017. We’re certain there are many more that can be added to this list though, so please do let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.
With that said, let’s take a look at 2017’s box office wonders.
After being in development hell for nearly a decade, not many people gave It a hope in hell of ever being released, never mind being a box office success. After losing director after director and countless producers, it looked unlikely that this film could compare to the legendary Stephen King novel and 1990 miniseries starring the dashing Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Yet, Andy Muschietti’s effort knocked it out of the park. Not only was it a critical and fan success, but it also made nearly $700 million worldwide off a $35 million budget. The financial success surprised everyone – including Warner Bros. – as It become the highest-grossing horror film of all-time. Unsurprisingly, the second part of this Derry saga has been fast-tracked into production.
Blending horror with a powerful coming-of-age story that captured the nostalgic charm of Stranger Things (and featuring an equally talented young cast), It refused to adhere to the conventional tropes of horror flicks. The movie paved its own way and it’s stronger because of it.
Wolf Warrior 2
What if we told you the second highest-grossing film of all-time in a single market and 2017’s fifth highest earner was a Chinese action pic called Wolf Warrior 2? Proving that a strong word of mouth can go a long way, this Wu Jing-steered picture broke record after record as it made huge Hollywood productions look like chumps in the process.
Costing only $30.1 million to make, Wolf Warrior 2 raked in $870.3 million worldwide. Tickets sold out in countries like Australia and Malaysia, where its box-office legs seemed to show no end and took the spotlight away from bigger productions.
If Wolf Warrior 2 proves one thing, it’s that no one needs Rotten Tomatoes when you have enough people eager to see a movie. Maybe it’s a wake-up call for everyone that we need to stop fussing about the media’s overbearing narrative about scores and actually go out and support films that pique our interest.
It might not have the big numbers of It, but no one expected Jordan Peele’s $4.5 million Get Out to make over $250 million and receive as many award nominations as it has. Especially considering that this was Peele’s directorial debut.
Coming out of nowhere, Get Out delighted both critics and fans as it provided an original horror experience that simultaneously tackled important social issues. With a terrific cast and a sublime script penned by Peele to boot, it left no one disappointed when the credits finally rolled.
There are talks of Peele helming a sequel in the future, but even if that doesn’t happen, we’ll still have the memories of this incredible film to hold on to. It defied all expectations and can be considered one of the year’s biggest sleeper hits.
If we’re being honest, Thor is probably the blandest Avenger after Hawkeye. His two solo films weren’t exactly riveting and his bro, Loki, is far more popular (and cooler) than him. Did anyone really want a third solo outing for the Asgardian, then?
Well, what Taika Waititi did with Thor: Ragnarok was tap into the mythos of Jack Kirby and deliver an exciting, funny, and entertaining buddy-cop adventure featuring Thor and Hulk. From the orgasmic soundtrack to the kaleidoscopic colors, no one could’ve predicted how awesome this movie would turn out.
Also, can you believe a Thor film actually destroyed Justice League at the box office? Yip. Thor: Ragnarok earned over $840 million, exceeding the wildest of expectations and becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of 2017. The movie’s title might be a tad glum, but its success was far from it. Heck, we still have the Led Zeppelin song in our head over a month after its release.
Edgar Wright makes marvelous movies. That said, they’re normally appreciated when they hit home video more than when they’re still on the circuit. A musical crime caper like Baby Driver is a good example of something that could’ve easily gotten lost in the pack and then become a DVD classic.
This time, though, a lot of people took notice of Wright’s film, as it brought in a whopping $225 million from a budget of $34 million. Maybe it was the stellar cast that included Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Ansel Elgort? Or perhaps it was the thumping soundtrack from yesteryear that got our attention? More than likely it was the sum of all its parts that made Baby Driver such an unforgettable movie.
What’s even more remarkable is how successful the film was with a June release date in the U.S. and U.K. It had to contend with the likes of Wonder Woman, The Mummy, and Cars 3, but it still managed to stand its own ground and bring in a tidy kitty.
It really does seem like 2017 was the year that horror got its groove back. Look, it also helped that the movies released weren’t filled with cringe-worthy tropes and actually brought something original to the genre, but it still feels like it was the genre’s year.
In the case of Annabelle: Creation, the signs didn’t look good from the onset. It was a sequel to the spinoff Annabelle, which isn’t exactly remembered for being very good. While it had the weight of The Conjuring franchise behind it, David F. Sandberg had a job on his hands – and only a $15 million budget to complete it.
Fast-forward to the end of its theatrical run and Annabelle: Creation brought in $306 million, breaking into the 300 club where The Conjuring films reside. The movie received mostly positive praise, with Sandberg’s fresh approach seen as a highlight, and it got everyone excited for the next spinoff, The Nun.
The LEGO Batman Movie
Okay, let’s be clear here: any film with Batman in its title is like printing money, so there was no way that The LEGO Batman Movie was going to flop. Still, it was released in the traditionally quiet month of February and managed to bring in $312 million from a budget of $80 million – plus, the toy sales must’ve been through the roof.
If anything, the film brought the fun back to the superhero genre – something that we saw was a key element to the genre’s success in 2017. It didn’t take itself too seriously, either, and poked fun at some of the previous missteps in the Batman movie franchise (yeah, it was kinda meta in that way).
While it didn’t bring in the same amount of money as The LEGO Movie did in 2014, it still brought in more than enough dough to get the studio execs rubbing their hands in delight. It’s LEGO and Batman – how could you not like it?!
After the critical drubbing that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad took and Justice League‘s production woes, things weren’t looking good for Wonder Woman. To make matters worse, there were whispers that Patty Jenkins’ movie was also destined to flop and the studio had no faith in it.
The good news was, everyone was wrong. Wonder Woman was a roaring success, entertaining critics, fans, and the cash registers alike. With a budget of $149 million, it reached an astronomical $821.9 million worldwide and showed immense legs at the box office. Not one person thought it would make as much money as it did.
With the future of the DC Extended Universe still in limbo, one thing’s for certain: Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will be around for years to come. There’s no way that Warner Bros. will chuck away this godsend – or will they?
On paper, the premise for Girls Trip sounds like a tired concept: a bunch of friends, who’ve grown apart, embark on a trip where they rediscover themselves and their friendship. Cliché as it comes, right? But in the execution, Malcolm D. Lee hit a serious slam dunk that turned out to be one of 2017’s best comedies.
With an all-star cast featuring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith, plus a side-splittingly funny script, Girls Trip pulled in the audience as it made $138.6 million from a budget of under $30 million. For a lower-budget comedy flick, that’s nothing to sniff at.
In a year that saw numerous comedies failing to bring the laughs (and money) to the cinema, Girls Trip proved to be the exception to the rule. Heck, even Time magazine named it one of its best films of 2017, so there’s that accolade, too.
Despicable Me 3
You’d think by now that the audience would grow tired of Despicable Me and the annoying Minions, but no. It seems like this franchise continues to grow stronger and stronger as Despicable Me 3 passed the $1 billion mark, making it an absolute juggernaut at the box office.
While we’re sure that Universal Pictures hoped it would do as well as the previous two films and maybe luck out like Minions did, this box office return did incredible numbers and became the third highest-grossing film of the year. It did okay in the U.S. with just over $264 million, but the international audience powered the pic to even greater heights.
With so much money on the table, it should come as no surprise that there’s yet another Despicable Me sequel in development.
Tell us, which box office hits surprised you in 2017? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.