[This article was originally published in late March. More recent notations are contained in square brackets, below, much like this explanatory note!]
Let’s get something straight right off the bat: 2016 will not be a box office giant akin to the record-breaking 2015. Now that we got that out of the way, there are still a handful of great films, and a slew of awful ones, coming to theatres.
As with any year, there are going to be select films that will rise to the top; but unlike a vat of milk, it won’t necessarily be the cream that’s rising. For whatever reason, people flock to spectacles, good and bad. Case in point: last year’s Furious 7 and this year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Just because you made a terrible film doesn’t mean you won’t also be making moolah.
Below are ten major films that I believe will be the highest grossing worldwide. The Mermaid is an international juggernaut, but because most people in North America haven’t seen it, I decided not to include it this time around.
I also give out some honorable mentions that could do better than what I’m predicting. Without further ado, here are the ten films I believe will dominate the global box office in 2016 along with their odds of being #1.
Odds to lead 2016 box office
Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016): 4/1
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $1.3 Billion
Sure the title says Captain America but really this is Avengers 2.5. Not only do we get a clash between Tony Stark’s and Steve Rogers’ opposing ideologies, but we get a few new comic characters brought into the mix. Okay Spiderman isn’t new, but a pubescent, not-from-Sony Peter Parker makes an appearance. This will easily become the highest grossing Captain America film out of the three, and it has the potential to be the highest-grossing Marvel feature ever. You can also expect this to be one of the biggest box office smashes of 2016.
[May 18 update: SBD FTW! Civil War is absolutely crushing the box office. It’s already surpassed $300m domestically in less than a month.]
Finding Dory (June 17, 2016): 5/1
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $1.1 Billion
Pixar’s films are gigantic money-making machines, and Finding Dory will be one of their biggest films to date. It’s easy to predict this animated juggernaut will sit somewhere in the top three of highest grossing films worldwide, and quite honestly it has a chance at complete global domination.
Millennials grew up with Dory and Nemo, and now that they are older, a little nostalgia goes a long way. Families will flock down stream to this one. Let’s hope that Pixar gives it the Toy Story 3 treatment when it comes to quality.
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (November 18, 2016): 17/3
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $1 billion
Harry Potter. That’s all that needs to be said here. Sure this spin-off has brand new characters in an all-new story, but anything to do with the Potter Universe is going to do huge worldwide numbers. Could it push the needle past a billion dollars? The reviews will dictate how much staying power this one will have after its massive opening weekend.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16, 2016): 9/1
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $900 Million
Disney is looking to make a little side income off the heels of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Directed by Gareth Edwards, this story takes us outside of the standard Star Wars episodic narrative that we have grown accustomed to. We have seen animated Star Wars spin-offs do well, and now we finally get a live-action film that introduces us to a wider galaxy far, far away. When it’s all said and done, this will be one of the highest grossing films of the year. But will it break the magical billion dollar mark?
Deadpool (February 12, 2016): 23/2
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $850 Million
Like Zootopia, this was another film that wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar at the beginning of the year. Well, not when it comes to the top-ten of highest grossing films, anyway. But here we are, and as I write this, Deadpool is still the #1 movie in the world and still cashing in overseas and domestically. Its staying power has been impressive and now it’s the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. Not bad for a $58 million dollar investment. He’s now our favorite Merc with a mouth … and all the money.
[May 18 update: Deadpool continues its strong showing, still leading domestic gross box office totals for the year.]
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016): 23/2
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $865 Million
The movie is getting panned by critics but it hasn’t stopped people from seeing the new DC spectacle. It will make a ton of money before Captain America: Civil War rolls into theatres in May thanks to a general lack of competition and people’s general curiosity, but let’s not pretend that it’s a quality film. This prelude to the upcoming Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Justice League movies will finally put DC on the cinematic box office map.
[May 18 update: BvS had a surprisingly strong opening weekend, surpassing Deadpool and nearly equaling Civil War. It will be up there at year’s end, especially given its massively wide release.]
Zootopia (March 4, 2016): 19/1
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $800 million
This was on nobody’s top ten list at the beginning of the year, but you better include it now, because the film is raking in the moolah. This caught a lot of people off guard and was delightfully one of the best animated features of the year. Hello Oscar nomination?
Disney still has more to give with their other feature, Moana, which drops in November. We are experiencing another golden age in animated features and Zootopia will go down in history as one of Disney’s top properties. When it’s all said and done, my modest prediction of $800 million worldwide might be surpassed.
[May 18 update: the family-friendly flick didn’t do huge numbers on its opening weekend but stayed steady every week since, climbing all the way to no. 2 on the current domestic charts, trailing only Deadpool at the moment.]
Ice Age: Collision Course (July 22, 2016): 19/1
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $750 Million
It pains me that I have to include this in my top-ten list, but the idea of ignoring this overseas juggernaut feels wrong. Even if I believe the animated series has jumped the proverbial mammoth, you just have to look at the dollars.
The last film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, did $161 million domestically in July 2012, but earned $715 million overseas (81-percent of its gross!) for a $877 million worldwide take. That $715 million overseas total makes it the third-biggest foreign-grossing animated feature ever behind Frozen and Minions (and those two films came after Continental Drift) as well as the 18th-biggest overseas earner ever. That’s silly. That’s a lot of nuts for Scrat. The box office take-home might dip a little this time around, but it’s still going to bank a lot of coin.
Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24, 2016): 20/1
Worldwide Box Office Prediction:$715 million
First off, why is this film not opening on July 4th? That seems like a big miss. Sequels done almost a decade later have not fared well recently. So this idea of cashing in on nostalgia only works if the film has a solid story and can stand alone from the original. Back in 1996, Independence Day was a big time hit and considered the grandfather of the summer blockbuster, but let’s not pretend it was a great film.
CGI and special effects have grown a lot since that time; it will be interesting to see a new story about terrorist space aliens ransacking Earth. Now, “Let’s kick the tires and light the fires, big daddy!” This film will rake in major dough due to people’s penchant for watching stupidity on screen.
Suicide Squad (August 5, 2016): 24/1
Worldwide Box Office Prediction: $712 Million
This will be the year of the spin-off and, no matter what we thought of Batman v Superman, we are now going to get another serving of DC with Suicide Squad. That said, this story actually looks brighter and a lot more fun than the sombre, dark, and messy Dawn of Justice. So maybe there is hope for the DC film universe after all.
We also get a first look at Jared Leto’s Joker. In this post-Heath Ledger world, it’s time for us to accept that there will be other actors playing the iconic villain. Some early predictions have this film doing mediocre numbers, but I predict a surprise hit that scores at the box office. The comic book adaptation wave is still rolling!
Outside, But Looking In?
Moana – $700 million (conservative prediction but could crack the top-ten)
Dr. Strange – $700 million
X-Men Apocalypse – $630 million
Ghostbusters – $600 million
Alice Through The Looking Glass – $500 million
Star Trek Beyond – $496 million
(Feature photo Credit: Kino Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSi0eVHI9wE).)