ADAM GRAHAM

The year in film so far, from ‘Deadpool’ to ‘Divergent’

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

While Batman and Superman made a mess smashing each other to bits, Deadpool cleaned up at the movies during the first part of the year.

Ryan Reynolds stars as a sort-of superhero in “Deadpool.”

Ryan Reynolds’ costumed quipper is the year-to-date box office champ, topping Batman and Superman’s dreary smack down. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is third on the list, coming in just below the furry fun-seekers of “Zootopia.”

Elsewhere, there have been hits (“The Jungle Book”), misses (“Gods of Egypt”) and outright bombs (“Zoolander No. 2”) in theaters so far this year.

With last week’s winner, “Captain America: Civil War,” officially kicking off the summer movie season, here’s a look at the winners and losers at the movies to date in 2016:

Neel Sethi stars as Mowgli and Bill Murray is the voice of Baloo the bear in “The Jungle Book.”

Winner: Disney

The Mouse House scored a pair of major hits with the sharp animated adventure “Zootopia” ($328 million domestic) and its luminous live action remake of “The Jungle Book” ($289 million domestic and counting), and the two blockbusters show Disney’s precision with original and re-purposed material, putting the company in the best possible position going forward. With last year’s holdover “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (not to mention “Captain America”), Disney has already crossed the $1 billion mark for domestic ticket sales this year, doing so in record time.

Loser: Teen movies

The latest “Divergent” movie, which opened in March, has grossed just $65 million in North America, half of what the series’ second film, “Insurgent,” grossed only a year ago. “The 5th Wave,” which arrived in January and was supposed to launch a new franchise for star Chloe Grace Moretz, stalled at $35 million. And this marks the first year since 2003 without a “Harry Potter,” “Hunger Games” or “Twilight” film to carry the torch for teen moviegoers. Send help — fast.

Winner: “Deadpool”

A “Deadpool” movie had been talked about for years — Ryan Reynolds first appeared as the character in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” — but few expected it to explode the way it did when it opened over Valentine’s Day weekend. After a colossal $132 million opening, it went on to gross $362 million in North America, far outpacing the domestic tallies of any “X-Men” film and outgrossing the first two “Iron Man” movies. The movie rewrote the rules for comic book movies, earning a hard R rating for its violence, sex and language, but more importantly showed the value of remaining true to the spirit and tone of its source material.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” topped the box office despite lackluster reviews.

Loser: “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice”

Yes, it grossed $327 million in North America (and another $540 million overseas), but you’re hard-pressed to find anyone who actually liked it, outside of the apologists who reasoned, “it’s not as bad as everyone says it was.” Director Zack Snyder’s joyless showdown between the two comic icons was a pounding, ponderous headache that felt overstuffed and undercooked. It’s hard to screw up a movie that features Batman and Superman, but Snyder found a way. How many people who felt burned will return to the next one?

Winner: Idris Elba

You may not see him on screen, but Elba — or, more specifically, his voice — stars in two of the year’s biggest movies. In “Zootopia,” he’s the voice of Chief Bogo, a buffalo who is the city’s police chief, and in “The Jungle Book,” he’s Shere Khan, a menacing tiger. Come June he’ll be heard voicing Fluke in the sequel to “Finding Nemo,” and he’s the villain in July’s “Star Trek Beyond,” putting him on pace to have one of the biggest years of any actor, ever. Now will someone consider him for James Bond?

Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong in "The Brothers Grimsby." (Columbia Pictures)

Loser: Sacha Baron Cohen

“The Brothers Grimsby,” the actor’s latest, grossed — and we do mean grossed — just $6.8 million, a quarter of what his “Borat” earned on its opening weekend 10 years ago. On the one hand, those ticket buyers won’t ever forget the experience of watching the film. On the other, for a film best remembered for a scene where Cohen crawls inside of an elephant and remains there during an act of sexual intercourse, perhaps that’s not a good thing.

Winner and loser: Sequels

No one expected “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” to match the flash-in-the-pan success of the 2002 original, but its $58 million was a respectable showing. Elsewhere, the sort-of-sequel “10 Cloverfield Lane” grossed $71 million, off only 11 percent from the 2008 original, and “Kung Fu Panda 3” raked in $142 million, off just 19 percent from the series’ last installment. Ice Cube revisited his “Ride Along” ($90 million, down 33 percent) and “Barbershop” franchises ($49 million, off 25 percent) and saw diminishing returns from both, while “God’s Not Dead 2” tumbled 67 percent from the original, picking up just $20 million worth of believers.

Loser: Biopics

Not every biopic can be “Straight Outta Compton.” After last year’s $161 million grosser, a handful of biopics stalled at theaters this year. Among the casualties were stories about Olympians Jesse Owens (“Race” earned $19 million) and Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards (“Eddie the Eagle” took in less than $16 million), as well as musicians Miles Davis (“Miles Ahead,” $2.2 million), Hank Williams (“I Saw the Light,” $1.6 million), Nina Simone (“Nina,” under $1 million) and Chet Baker (“Born to be Blue,” $775,000). Meanwhile, “The Program,” starring Ben Foster as doping cyclist Lance Armstrong, wasn’t even released theatrically. Turns out in a world of superheroes, real life isn’t selling many tickets these days.

Winner: Kristen Stewart

Whatever the behind-the-scenes discussions were regarding the follow-up to “Snow White and the Huntsman,” good for Stewart for not agreeing to do the sequel; Jessica Chastain, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron weren’t as fortunate. The awkward, stilted “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is the franchise entry nobody asked for, grossing just $41 million in three weeks and likely finishing its run a full $100 million behind the $155 million haul of the 2012 original. Mirror mirror on the wall, what’s the lamest franchise of all?

Loser: Parodies

We’re a far way from the “Scary Movie” days, or even the “A Haunted House” days. Marlon Wayans’ latest spoof offering, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” send-up “Fifty Shades of Black,” earned a scant $11.6 million, Wayans’ lowest grosser to-date. Mike Epps didn’t do much better with “Meet the Blacks,” the “Purge” parody he starred in that took in only $9 million. No one is laughing at those tallies.

Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomas in "The Witch."

Winner: “The Witch”

The independent horror film rode strong reviews and great word of mouth to a $25 million gross, a success considering the movie stars no one recognizable and is spoken entirely in folksy 1600s dialect.

Loser: “Zoolander No. 2”

Despite its cult following, the original “Zoolander” wasn’t much of a hit upon its initial release, earning just $45 million. Still, there was reason to believe “Zoolander No. 2” — which came 15 years after the original — would be a hit, but it tanked, earning dismal reviews and a poor $29 million gross. Blue Steel is dead.

The year’s best (so far ...)

1. “Krisha” — This nerve-racking family drama about a Thanksgiving visit gone very wrong is so intense, it’s practically a horror film.

Krisha Fairchild stars in the comedy-drama “Krisha,” which was filmed in nine days with less than $100,000. The movie has earned acclaim, been celebrated at festivals from SXSW to Cannes, and earned a Spirit Award.

2. “Everybody Wants Some!!” — Richard Linklater follows “Boyhood” with a delightful, warm college comedy about a baseball team that is one of the great male bonding films of our time.

3. “The Jungle Book”/ “Zootopia” — Two family winners from Disney. Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” is a beautifully rendered update to the original, while “Zootopia” is a smart play on racism and togetherness in society.

4. “The Witch” — A deeply disturbing minimalist horror shocker from writer-director Robert Eggers, a name you should remember.

5. “Deadpool” — There are so many ways this film could have gone wrong, and it avoided all of them.

The year’s worst (so far ...)

1. “Mother’s Day” — Your mother — all mothers — deserve better than this shameless, outdated treacle disguised as a tribute to motherhood. Somebody stop Garry Marshall before he ruins another holiday.

2. “Divergent: Allegiant” — Such an incoherent, babbling mess that everybody in the movie seemed to be looking for an exit.

This image released by Lionsgate shows Ansel Elgort, left, and Shailene Woodley in a scene from "The Divergent Series: Allegiant."

3. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” — A “Snow White” sequel without Snow White? That’s about as good an idea as a “Speed” sequel without Keanu Reeves.

4. “Mr. Right” — Sam Rockwell is a hitman and Anna Kendrick is his girlfriend who decides she likes killing, too, in this horrifically misguided romantic comedy.

5. “The Bronze” — Melissa Rauch (“The Big Bang Theory”) wrote and stars in this toxic comedy about a spoiled gymnastics brat that was greeted with one of the worst box office openings of all-time, and deservedly so.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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