It was the best summer movie season, it was the worst summer movie season. It was the era of discontent, it was the time of joy. If you were a fan of sequels, comic book movies, aging franchises and animation, you were happy. If you were looking for sophisticated fare, you were mostly out of luck.
But no matter your feelings about movie summer 2016, as always the season had its share of winners and losers.
ANIMATION “Finding Dory” had the biggest opening weekend ever for an animated film. “The Secret Life of Pets” opened with a gross of more than $100 million, largest ever for an original animated property. And “Kubo and the Two Strings” was not only one of the best reviewed films of the summer — a 96 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes — but it opened to solid, if not spectacular, business.
INTERNET TROLLS Those who complained about an all-female “Ghostbusters” might actually have won the day. Sure, the film received decent reviews — 73 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes — and opened with a solid $46 million gross its first weekend, but then it tanked. Because it cost more than $144 million to produce (plus marketing costs), “Ghostbusters” needed to gross $300 million worldwide to turn a profit. It’s not even close. Say goodbye to any thoughts of a sequel.
ELECTION YEAR PARANOIA “The Purge: Election Year” earned more than $79 million on a $10 million budget. The perfect film for this election cycle.
HILLARY HATERS Despite a 4 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.com — one critic called it “an embarrassment to propaganda films” — “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party,” a right-wing takedown of the Democratic presidential candidate, earned more than $12 million at the box office. Not bad for a documentary.
CHINESE FILMGOERS Wondering why Hollywood produces all those sequels, reboots and comic book films? It’s because the Chinese market, now the second-largest film market in the world, goes ape for this stuff. Example: “Warcraft,” which earned $47 million in North America, gobbled up a whopping $220 million in China. When it comes to what movies get made, the Chinese are now the tail that wags the dog.
MERYL STREEP She earned raves as the title character in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” as a hilariously inept singer. So what else is new? Looks like another Oscar nomination for La Streep.
RAUNCHY COMEDY It seems every year one or two R-rated raunchfests come out of nowhere and draw big audiences. So “Bad Moms,” featuring a trio of overstressed wives getting down and dirty, covered its $20 million production budget on its first weekend in theaters, then went on to a gross of more than $95 million. And “Sausage Party,” an animated film featuring an orgy involving supermarket food stuffs, grossed a whopping $80 million on a slim $19 million budget.
JOHNNY DEPP “Alice Through the Looking Glass” earned a 30 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating and tanked at the box office. Combine this with a highly publicized divorce featuring allegations of physical abuse, and this was not a good summer for Depp.
ANDY SAMBERG He might have a hit with his TV series “Brooklyn 99,” but Samberg’s latest foray into feature films, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” was a commercial bust, earning slightly less than $10 million during its theatrical run.
ALIEN INVASIONS “Independence Day” was a huge hit when it came out, but that was 22 years ago. The tepid response to “Independence Day: Resurgence” showed that waiting that long for a sequel is not a smart idea.
THE CIVIL WAR “Free State of Jones” — No one cared.
STEVEN SPIELBERG “The BFG” (Big Friendly Giant) minus a BFA (Big Friendly Audience) equals a BBB (Big Box-office Bomb).
VINE SWINGERS “The Legend of Tarzan” failed to cover its production budget domestically (it was a bigger hit overseas), and for all its attempts to be politically correct, seemed like a film from another era. Say bye-bye to any further adventures of Lord Greystoke.
WHINY ‘SUICIDE SQUAD’ FANBOYS Thousands of fans of director David Ayer’s film demanded Rotten Tomatoes shut itself down because the review aggregate website gave the latest DC Comics spinoff a dismal 27 percent rating.
FILM CRITICS So, of course, the fanboys ignored the reviewers and went to see “Suicide Squad” anyway, helping it achieve the largest August opening ever. Fanboys don’t care what critics say. Fanboys are gonna see what they wanna see. Critics? What do they know?
‘BEN-HUR’ Its pathetic box-office receipts proved that this was possibly the most unnecessary remake ever.