Summer has been a pretty mixed bag at the 2016 box office. While many movies have surprised, like The Conjuring 2 and The Secret Life of Pets, it has been a season filled with a lot of box office bombs and disappointments. No studio has been more negatively affected by this than Paramount, who is set to post a massive loss for 2016, and it isn’t looking all that much better for 2017 either. As it stands, the studio is looking to post more than $500 million in losses for between this year and next.
Speaking with The Street, media analyst Michael Nathanson shed some light on what he feels will be a very, very bad year for Paramount. According to his estimates, the studio is set to lose what he calls a “mind numbing” $360 million in 2016. According to Nathanson, 2017 doesn’t look a whole lot better, as he estimates the studio will lose another $200 million over next year.
One of the major surprises for Paramount was the poor performance of Star Trek Beyond, which Nathanson acknowledges the studio is very aware of. As of right now, Star Trek Beyond has earned $231 million worldwide, on a staggeringly high $185 million production budget. The movie has yet to open in China, and when it does on September 2, that should definitely help. However, the foreign box office has been down for Beyond when compared to the previous two entries in the franchise, so China won’t likely be enough to call it a win overall. With a large marketing budget, the movie likely needs to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million to break even, which isn’t looking overly likely.
This weekend at the box office certainly didn’t help matters either, as the remake of Ben-Hur is looking to be even more disastrous, and may go down as one of the biggest flops of the entire year. On its opening weekend, Ben-Hur only brought in $11.3 million domestically on a reported $100 million production budget. The movie is still going to be rolled out in a lot of foreign markets, but with such a rocky start, it is very unlikely the movie will break even. Luckily, the movie was co-financed with MGM, and Paramount only has a 20 percent stake in Ben-Hur, so they will be at less risk, but won’t make the money they were expecting to either.
Paramount’s other big release for the summer was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which proved to be yet another under-performing sequel. With another massive budget of $135 million, only pulling in $239 million worldwide makes for another very poor outing. That marks a significant decline when compared to 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which pulled in $493 million worldwide.
Outside of the summer, Paramount has struggled to find a runaway hit. The studio pulled in some money from late 2015 releases like Daddy’s Home and The Big Short, which helped soften the blow, but only slightly. Arguably, the studio’s biggest hit of the year was 10 Cloverfield Lane, which pulled in $104 million on a reported budget of just $15 million. Outside of that, nearly everything else has disappointed. Even Michael Bay’s well liked war movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi only managed to bring in $69 million worldwide on a $50 million budget. Let us not forget that Paramount is also responsible for the release of Zoolander 2, which absolutely tanked, bringing in just $28 million domestically, and was demolished by critics.
As for the rest of this year, Paramount can only hope that Tom Cruise can help ease the pain with Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and that the Amy Adams sci-fi movie Arrival is something audiences turn out for. As for next year, the ever reliable Transformers franchise will be back with Transformers: The Last Knight, and that will surely bring in big money. Viacom, the parent company of Paramount, has been trying to sell a 49 percent stake in the studio, and after this abysmal summer, that is going to be a much more difficult task to accomplish.