There is now just one month left in what could be a record breaking year at the U.S. box office. While the top mark still belongs to 2015’s $11.12 billion domestically — thanks in large part to Star Wars: The Force Awakens — 2016 still has a Star Wars film of its own coming up. With eight films already crossing $300 million domestically this year, the U.S. box office has crossed $10 billion in record time. Finding Dory‘s $486 million leads leads all films domestically this year, while Captain America: Civil War‘s $1.15 billion and change is the high-water mark worldwide. Including Civil War, 2016 has seen three films earn $1 billion or more worldwide (the other two being Finding Dory and Zootopia; yes, they are all Disney films).
As strong as 2016 has been, 2015 lays claim to the the most films in a calendar year to earn $1 billion or more worldwide with five total (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Minions). 2016 will likely just miss that mark, unless Fantastic Beasts‘ legs are stronger than anticipated. Even if 2016 cannot notch five $1 billion-plus earning films, 2017 has a solid chance. So, with the new year rapidly approaching, we have decided to take a look at all the films 2017 has to offer, and see how well we can predict their financial success.
Just to note, this list will be organized by predicted worldwide gross, and will not include any films that remain untitled or unlikely to stay in its release spot (i.e. World War Z 2). Furthermore, films released towards the end of the year will have their 2018 grosses included in the prediction. Finally, all box office totals and release dates are according to what is available on Box Office Mojo at the time of this writing. So, here are our predictions for the 20 Highest-Grossing Movies Of 2017.
20. The LEGO Batman Movie
Release Date: 2/10/2017
Following the near universal positive reception to the The LEGO Movie, Warner Bros. was quick to announce a sequel starring, perhaps, the film’s most popular character: Batman (voiced to perfection by Will Arnett). The LEGO Movie, which featured an average construction worker (voiced by Chris Pratt), wound up grossing $257 million at the U.S. box office and $469 million worldwide. These are pretty fair comparisons for the spin-off featuring the Caped Crusader.
The LEGO Batman Movie‘s marketing campaign is already in full swing, with recent trailers highlighting the film’s humor and the Dark Knight’s supporting cast, which includes Alfred, Robin, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and the Joker. This incredible collection of iconic characters, coupled with the built in popularity of the LEGO brand, would seem to position The LEGO Batman Movie as a shoe-in success. However, as a movie predominately aimed at children and families, positive word of mouth will remain important.
We are going to assume, however, that the movie will be mostly appreciated. Regardless, LEGO Batman will be released over the same weekend as the first LEGO themed film and with little family fare to compete. In short, The LEGO Batman Movie should do just fine.
19. Cars 3
Release Date: 6/16/2017
There are few sure things in this world, but one of them is that Pixar films do well at the box office. Pixar has released 17 films to date and none of them have earned less than $300 million worldwide. And since 2010, only one Pixar film — The Good Dinosaur — has earned less than $500 million. So, the third film in the Cars series is likely to do good business for the Disney-owned studio.
While Cars 3 likely will not be able to compete with recent Pixar smash hits like Toy Story 3 ($1.067 billion), Finding Dory ($1.026 billion), and Inside Out ($896 million), the film should find enough of an audience to gross in the range set by the prior two films in the series. The first Cars film earned $462 million worldwide, while Cars 2 earned $562 million, despite grossing less than its predecessor at the domestic box office. Even if Cars 3 struggles at the domestic box office, the growth in the international market should be more than enough to make up the difference.
18. Kingsman The Golden Circle
Release Date: 10/6/2017
Following the financial (and critical) success of Mathew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, Fox quickly announced a sequel to the R-rated hit. The first film, which starred Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Taron Egerton grossed $128 million at the domestic box office and a healthy $414 million worldwide. While sequels do not always perform as well as their predecessors, we feel a bit bullish regarding the prospects of The Golden Circle — even after the change in release date.
Kingsman The Golden Circle is one of the riskier bets on our list, but there is precedent for a sequel to an R-rated action/comedy improving upon its predecessor’s gross. For instance, take 22 Jump Street, the sequel to 21 Jump Street, starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The first film grossed $138 million domestically and $201 million worldwide, while the sequel topped both numbers with $191 million and $331 million, respectively. While Kingsman The Golden Circle is unlikely to have as large a jump percentage wise, it still should see some extra cash at the box office.
Release Date: 3/3/2017
There are likely to be few movies in 2017 as highly anticipated as Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine. After appearing as the character in a total of eight X-Men related films, Jackman will be hanging up his claws after Logan. The film’s marketing campaign has abandoned the usual methods, and instead has released just one trailer (an awesome one, albeit) and a slew of mysterious black and white images; and it’s working. The mystery behind Logan is only furthering the excitement for Wolverine’s first appearance in an R-rated film.
As for Logan‘s prospects at the box office, there are a lot of comparables. With nine X-Men related films having been released to date (including Deadpool), it is pretty safe to assume that Logan‘s final box office gross will fall somewhere in-between X-Men (the lowest grossing film worldwide) and Deadpool (the highest grossing film worldwide). It is highly unlikely that Logan matches Deadpool‘s $782 million worldwide, which is currently a record for an R-rated film. Deadpool‘s $363 domestically (second all time for R-rated movies) is also out of reach.
The most likely scenario for Logan is that it will gross around X-Men: Apocalypse — one of only three films to out-gross The Wolverine internationally — and end up somewhere over $500 million worldwide. Of course, with Deadpool‘s shocking success, anything can happen.
16. The Mummy
Release Date: 6/9/2017
If Kingsman The Golden Circle was the risky pick on the list, then The Mummy is a true mystery. The Mummy, which will star Tom Cruise, is set to be the launching point for Universal’s Monsters shared universe. It was initially believed that the franchise would be connected to the Luke Evans-starring Dracula Untold, but that no longer appears to be the case after that film underwhelmed at the box office. So, with the relative failure of the most recent Dracula film, what makes us believe The Mummy will do any better? It simply has more appeal.
While The Mummy is not part of the franchise starring Brendan Fraser, those films can still be looked to for comparison. Regardless of their critical reception, each of the three Mummy films grossed over $400 million worldwide (the spin-off The Scorpion King not included). With the immense growth in the international box office since The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor‘s release, it should be safe to assume that the Tom Cruise-starring film can best that film’s $298 million from international markets. After all, Tom Cruise is still incredibly popular abroad.
15. Fifty Shades Darker
Release Date: 2/10/2017
If Fifty Shades of Grey affirmed anything, it is that sex sells – big time. The erotic thriller, based on the novel of the same name by E.L. James, grossed $571 million worldwide, $166 million of which came from the domestic box office. It is a pretty safe bet that the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, which opens the weekend before Valentines Day, will have similar success. And for those that think anticipation for the return of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele is not high, think again. The trailer for Fifty Shades Darker was viewed over 114 million times in its first 24 hours of release — more than Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The real question is whether Fifty Shades Darker will out-gross its predecessor or fall a bit short. It’s a tough question, as Fifty Shades of Grey is already one of the highest grossing R-rated and romantic drama films of all time. Likely, those that went to see the first will want to see the second, so the odds are Fifty Shades Darker will fall around $570 million worldwide, perhaps a bit less due to the crowded 2017 release schedule.
Release Date: 7/21/2017
There are tons of bankable stars whose name is all but a guarantee of a film’s financial success; there are not too many directors who can say their name alone will attract the average moviegoer to the theater. Spielberg, Scorsese, and Tarantino are a few of the names synonymous with “must see in theater” films. But Christopher Nolan is quickly adding his name to that list. In fact, not only has every Christopher Nolan-directed film been rated fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, but there is only one director with over 10 helmed films whose average gross is greater than that of Nolan: Michael Bay (of course, once James Cameron releases a 10th film, he will catapult to the top of the list). And Nolan’s $181 million average domestic gross per film includes two limited releases.
So, it should be clear that when Christopher Nolan is attached to a big budget film as director, it is going to make money. Nolan’s last four films to receive a wide release have all grossed over $675 million worldwide, with The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises both grossing over $1 billion. This would seem to indicate that the box office prospects for Nolan’s next epic, Dunkirk, are strong indeed. The question is: how strong?
No film set in World War II has ever grossed over $500 million worldwide. The high-water mark for the genre is Saving Private Ryan with $481 million. That number should fall to Dunkirk. Interstellar, the last film of Nolan’s to receive a wide release, earned $469 million from international markets alone. While Dunkirk won’t fly so high, expect a new World War II champion.
13. Power Rangers
Release Date: 3/24/2017
While many box office analysts will have Power Rangers among their riskier bets of 2017, the film, based on the worldwide franchise of the same name, is bound for glory — if for no other reason, Asia. Certainly, if Power Rangers receives strong reviews upon release, it will do well with domestic audiences who are looking forward to a new take on a beloved franchise. Still, even if the film is dismissed by critics, it is close to a sure thing abroad.
Many big budget films these days are made and marketed for international audiences and Power Rangers will be no exception. Based off a franchise with strong roots in Japan, the film should do well there and in surrounding countries. And success in Japan can add a lot to a film’s final total, as the market has grown to be the number three market behind the United States and China.
Ultimately, the fresh take on Power Rangers, coupled with the large budget and international friendly effects, should lead to a strong run at the box office.
12. War For The Planet of The Apes
Release Date: 7/14/2017
We have now hit the sure things. While there are reasons that the earlier films on the list could under-perform, the remaining movies, starting with War for the Planet of the Apes, are all based on franchises with consistent precedent for success. War for the Planet of the Apes is the third film in the Planet of the Apes prequel series that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and continued with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes earned $176 million domestically and $481 million worldwide, while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes exploded for $711 million worldwide, $208 million of which came domestically. The next film returns Matt Reeves to the helm, and should see comparable success to its predecessor. July 2017 is a particularly jammed month, as you will see, so expect the latest Planet of the Apes film to slag a bit domestically. Still, the international box office is only growing and should add more than enough to make up the slack.
11. Thor: Ragnarok
Release Date: 11/3/2017
While we are talking about sure things, it is about time we make it to a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. The third installment of the Thor series, Thor: Ragnarok, is set to be released over the same weekend in 2017 as this year’s Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange (as of this writing) currently sits at $616 million worldwide, more than any other introductory film in the MCU, including Thor. Doctor Strange will also likely pass Thor: The Dark World‘s $644 million worldwide — a number you can expect Thor: Ragnarok to also obliterate.
The third Thor film has a lot going for it on top of the built-in Marvel brand and popular title character. The film will also feature Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, in a role many fans are hoping will call upon the popular Planet Hulk story. The addition of the Hulk makes Ragnarok feel more like an event team-up than a traditional Thor film. Further, it has been highly teased that the film will play a huge role in setting up Avengers Infinity War, likely driving more fans to the theater.
Given the trajectory of the previous Thor films, we are going to project this on the lower end of what is likely, but do not be shocked if Thor: Ragnarok inches closer to the success of recent films featuring Captain America and Iron Man.
10. Wonder Woman
Release Date: 6/2/2017
While the DC Extended Universe has had a rocky start in terms of critical reception, it has been nothing but successful financially. The three DCEU films released thus far — Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Suicide Squad — have all earned over $668 million worldwide, and Wonder Woman should be no different. In fact, Wonder Woman has a shot at becoming the highest grossing DCEU film before the release of Justice League (spoiler: this will show up later on the list).
We will be a bit conservative and assume that Wonder Woman will not out-perform Batman V Superman’s $873 million worldwide. Of course, if Wonder Woman can become the first film in the DCEU to receive a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating more universal positive reception, it could reach greater heights.
Wonder Woman has an advantage over the preceding DCEU films. There will be likely much less world building in Wonder Woman, allowing for a tighter narrative with fewer restrictions. Further, the film stars Gal Gadot, who might not have been everyone’s first choice to play the Amazonian princess, but was universally praised for her role in Batman V Superman. Reactions to Wonder Woman‘s trailers have been positive, and there is certainly excitement to see the first live-action solo outing of, perhaps, the greatest heroine of all time.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Release Date: 5/5/2017
Leading up to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, there were many people who thought Marvel was taking too big a risk on a lesser known property about a ragtag group of heroes. Well, that risk was clearly overstated as the film powered its way to $773 million worldwide — becoming the highest grossing film in the MCU not featuring Iron Man. With so many fans hooked on a certain feeling, anticipation is through the roof for the team’s second outing, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Disney/Marvel is clearly optimistic as they have given the Guardians a prime May release date; the same weekend as the previous two Avengers films and every other movie featuring Iron Man. The last four films Marvel has released over that first weekend in May have all grossed over $1 billion worldwide. That number may be a bit steep, even for the hugely popular Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, the group’s popularity, coupled with a great release date, should be more than enough to improve upon the first film’s final grosses.
8. Fast 8
Release Date: 4/14/2017
While there is no doubt that Fast 8 will be a huge success at the box office, predicting exactly where it will end up is a bit tricky. The Fast & Furious franchise is unlike any other in history. What began as a simple car racing franchise, has evolved into an action adventure series, blending several genres including, racing, espionage, and military action. Despite the recent success of the franchise, nobody could have anticipated what the last film, Furious 7, accomplished at the box office — that being, $1.156 billion (yes, billion) worldwide.
Furious 7 would seem to be a bit of an anomaly. The film was delayed a year after the tragic passing of series star Paul Walker, and was seen by many as a tribute to the beloved actor. Expectations should be tempered for the next outing in the franchise. It is more likely that Fast 8 will play closer to Fast & Furious 6, which grossed an impressive $788 million in its own right. Of course, if Fast 8 comes back with another near $400 million in China, all bets are off.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Release Date: 7/7/2017
There really have been a lot of Spider-Man films since 2002 haven’t there? Well, five to be exact. Everyone’s (or mostly everyone’s) favorite neighborhood Spider-Man has been a mainstay in the superhero genre since its recent explosion. The original Sony trilogy, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, saw each film gross between $783 million and $890 million worldwide. And keep in mind, this was before the recent growth at the international box office.
The second grouping of Spider-Man films, starring Andrew Garfield as the webslinger, was less successful at the box office, but still saw both movies gross over $700 million worldwide. It’s clear; people love Spider-Man. Now, after an unprecedented deal between Marvel and Sony, Spider-Man, as portrayed by Tom Holland, has joined the MCU with his appearnce in Captain America: Civil War. Holland’s take on Peter Parker received mostly positive reviews, and now fans eagerly await his solo outing, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is all but guaranteed to swing past the lifetime grosses of both Amazing Spider-Man films. The bigger question is: can it pass Spider-Man 3’s $890 million worldwide? We think yes. Not only will the film be part of the enormously successful MCU, but it will feature Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. While it is unknown how large the role will be, we have already highlighted in this list how well film’s featuring RDJ’s Iron Man perform at the box office. Bigger question: Can Spider-Man: Homecoming cross $1 billion?
6. Beauty and the Beast
Release Date: 3/17/2017
Remember that record breaking trailer we mentioned in the Fifty Shades Darker section? Yes? Well, that record did not last long. The latest trailer for the highly anticipated live-action adaptation of the beloved animated film, Beauty and the Beast, was viewed a whopping 127.6 million times in its first 24 hours of release. If that does not indicate that fans are pumped for this film, who knows what does.
Beauty and the Beast is just the latest of several planned live-action remakes of beloved animated Disney films. The studio has already released similar live-action takes with Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Maleficent. The Jungle Book recently ended its box office run with $966 million worldwide, while the Angelina Joli-starring Maleficent grossed $758 million. It is likely Beauty and the Beast will fall somewhere between those two films, but do not be shocked if it crosses $1 billion — especially given the excitement over the trailer.
While Beauty and the Beast is based off arguably the greatest animated movie of all time, the odds are it will fall short of The Jungle Book, if for no other reason than circumstance. The Jungle Book faced virtually no competition in its first three weeks of release, prior to the May debut of Captain America: Civil War. On the other hand, Beauty and the Beast will be released during a jam packed March, which features several films on this list.
5. Justice League
Release Date: 11/17/2017
A full two weeks after Thor: Rangarok hits theaters, the most anticipated DC film of all time, Justice League, will be released. Like Marvel’s The Avengers, Justice League is the reason shared universes exist — so that individual heroes from solo films can unite in one massive cinematic experience. And while Batman V Superman failed to live up to many fans’ expectations, there are quite a few reasons why Justice League should do better both critically and financially.
As previously mentioned in the Wonder Woman section, the DCEU world has finally been built. While Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg still need proper introductions, the main DC Trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman will be cemented by the time Justice League hits theaters. Further, the sole Justice League trailer to date has played up the fact that the film will not be quite as dark as Batman V Superman, suggesting it will appeal to a broader audience.
Finally, with Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns creatively involved with the film, there is less fear that the film’s narrative will fall out of control. All of this should lead to the most successful DCEU film to date — if not the highest grossing DC film ever.
4. Transformers: The Last Knight
Release Date: 6/23/2017
This entry does not need much explanation. Transformers movies gross $1 billion worldwide, end of story. Not only has Michael Bay cracked the code of the international box office — allowing his films to be essentially critic proof — but he has particularly been able to exploit the Chinese market. This has resulted in the last two Transformers films each grossing over $1 billion worldwide, with the first two films each coming in over $700 million. Expect Transformers: The Last Knight to be yet another entry in the franchise to hit ten figures.
The most recent outing, Transformers: Age of Extinction, was absolutely crucified by critics and fans alike, yet still grossed $1.1 billion, $858 million of which came from international markets. That means that it grossed less than $250 million domestically, yet still crossed $1 billion. There are only so many franchises capable of such a feat, one of which is next on our list.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Release Date: 5/26/2017
The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film is set to be released over the 2017 Memorial Day weekend. This is the same weekend that the third entry in the franchise, At World’s End, grossed a record opening (for a 4-day holiday weekend) of $139 million domestically. That film ultimately grossed $963 million worldwide despite generally negative reviews. But At World’s End missed the $1 billion mark because of its domestic box office tally, not its international, as the film grossed nearly the same amount internationally as Dead Man’s Chest, which did cross $1 billion.
The most recent outing in the Johnny Depp-starring franchise again grossed over $1 billion worldwide thanks to a massive $804 million from international markets. This all suggests that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is beginning to be as critic proof as Transformers. As such, expect Dead Men Tell No Tales, which reunites most of the gang, including Orlando Bloom, to again cross $1 billion — even if entirely from international markets.
2. Despicable Me 3
Release Date: 6/30/2017
There are not many animated film series that you can place immediately in the lock column for $1 billion worth of ticket sales, but the Despicable Me franchise is one of them. While Despicable Me grossed an impressive $543 million worldwide, its sequel, Despicable Me 2 ended its run with $970 million, over $400 million of which came domestically. Of course, both those films earned peanuts compared to the Minions spin-off, which grossed $1.159 billion worldwide, trailing only Frozen among animated films.
With the Minions popularity among families at an all time high, Despicable Me 3 should be the first film in the Despicable Me proper franchise to gross over $1 billion. As of this writing, there have been five animated films to gross $1 billion worldwide, beginning with 2010’s Toy Story 3. There is little reason to believe Despicable Me 3 won’t make it six.
1. Star Wars: Episode VIII
While it is nigh impossible to give an accurate prediction on the box office prospects of Star Wars: Episode VIII this early, it is a no-brainer lock as the highest grossing film of 2017 — remember, we are including 2018 grosses in this. Thirty-two years after the release of the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi, millions of fans returned to a galaxy far far away. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released to unprecedented anticipation and overwhelming demand. While most box office analysts were confident that the film would set a new opening weekend record for December, the question became whether it would surpass Jurassic World‘s $208 million. It did.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed an astonishing $247 million in its first three days of release on its way to $936 million…domestically! The film’s final worldwide tally was $2.068 billion, trailing only James Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar. At this stage it seems unlikely that Star Wars: Episode VIII will come anywhere near The Force Awakens box office total, even considering a more substantial role for Luke Skywalker. Unlike TFA, Episode VIII is not being released to thirty years of pent up anticipation. Of course, this is all conjecture. It is possible that Rogue One, which will be released in a few weeks, blows past the $130 million it is expected to gross over its opening weekend, suggesting Episode VIII could do the same next year.
It is more likely that Star Wars: Episode VIII will become one of the highest grossing films of all time, just not quite as high as its predecessor.
Bold Prediction: $1.7 billion worldwide ($670 million domestically)
If you have made it through this whole list, you realize that we are bullish on the 2017 box office. We have twenty films with a predicted worldwide gross of over $500 million, something that has never happened (there were 14 such films in 2015 and there will likely be at least 15 in 2016). Further, we have five films crossing the $1 billion mark, something that happened only in 2015.
If all our predictions come true, which they won’t, 2017 will likely be a record breaking year. But as they say, records are meant to be broken, and often are. What do you think? Which films do you expect to perform at the box office? Sound off in the comments!
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