What a year it has been so far for movies in 2016, with blockbuster movies and horror flicks gunning for the top spot in the box-office. You might wonder: what’s their secret?

Let’s suss out what is grossing big bucks in the Singapore cinemas in this halfway point to the year and uncover the tricks of the trade.

1) X-Men: Apocalypse
Grossed: S$5.86 million

One of the latest movies in the Top 10 to be released on May 19, it definitely caused plenty of hype in the days before it debut. And how can it not, when the prequel pits our favourite heroes against one another?

Magneto discovers that venge precedes benevolence in a battle between himself and a prehistoric character, and Professor X struggles between protecting and negotiating the mutant race. Also: Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.

Secret to success: Lure them in with battle of the heroes, impress them with Jean Grey.

2) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Grossed: S$5.74 million

There really is no other secret to the success of this mega box-office hit: pit the two most visible characters in the DC Comics film together and you have a surefire winner regardless of the movie’s outcome. What took this film into higher gear was the anticipation surrounding the flick, even sparking of the famous Ben Affleck sad meme.

With a BvS run to be held in Singapore, there is certainly some mileage left to the brawl. Although critics panned the movie for containing too little plot and too much action, it could be precisely the battle between two different sets of ideals and the film’s dark and menacing tone that makes BvS the quintessential tussle between heroes.

Secret to success: If a new Batman v Superman film came out tomorrow, the whole island will go and see it. But the relentless action keeps this flick a thriller of an experience.

3) Deadpool
Grossed: S$4.49 million

The creative promotional material and the move to show the uncut version of the film in Singapore definitely formed part of the box-office success that is Deadpool, a story that local reviewers said was irreverent and a departure from the widely-panned 2009 introduction in the Wolverine standalone.

From the unlikely antihero plot who does not play by the rules, to the boy-meets-girl scenario peppered with action and violence, Deadpool turned its head on multiple genres and delivered without taking itself too seriously. It’s no wonder it was a roaring success during its debut, garnering S$2.6 million on opening weekend making it the highest debut of an M18 movie of all time.

Secret to success: Antihero plot + tons of comedy + every genre reinterpreted differently.

4) Zootopia
Grossed: S$4.37 million

When you think about animated movies this year that were just more than cartoons, Zootopia comes to mind. Decrying racism, sexism and bullying is Zootopia’s protagonist, the rabbit Judy who has to overcome different kinds of discrimination to prove that she worthy of being a police officer. The buddy-cop storyline also gets an update, as both rabbit Judy and fox Nick work to save their city but not in the way one would expect.

Secret to success: Close-to-home tales make this animated movie more than just reel life.

5) Kung Fu Panda 3
Grossed: S$3.75 million

Panda babies. Add this to the animated action comedy plot and the latest instalment of Kung Fu Panda becomes an instant ogle-worthy fest of awws and yeahs. Despite Po’s resolve deflating slightly as the unlikely warrior, the film makes up for it with immaculate CGI and thoughtful 3D visuals. The theme song dubbed in Mandarin certainly helps flesh out the flick’s oriental aspect, but it will have to do more in tackling adult themes if it’s to go on for three more instalments.

Secret to success: Did we say panda babies? Panda fatigue may begin kicking in, though.

6) The Jungle Book (2016)
Grossed: S$3.51 million

Across the visual spectacle of films this year, The Jungle Book stands out for marrying CGI into real-life elements seamlessly, even down to the realism of the characters’ mouth movements. The painstaking attention to detail was marred slightly by the addition of several well-known songs that might have destroyed the honesty of the film, but it is the bonds little Mowgli creates with the animals that make this better than its 1967 original.

Secret to success: The addition of realistic, precise CGI makes this remake the one to remember.

7) The Mermaid (2016)
Grossed: S$3.11 million

Fantasy comedy The Mermaid does what Stephen Chow does best: some absurd, low-brow humour that apparently Singaporeans dig. A lot. Debuting on Chinese New Year certainly helped this flick a lot, as is the more serious environmental message of troubles in the seas. Bad special effects mar the genius of the plotline (which could work out to be a good thing comically, but some reviewers don’t think so).

Secret to success: Stephen Chow’s absurdist comedy marries itself well to the auspicious premiere date.

8) Long Long Time Ago
Grossed: S$2.95 million

The other major competitor to the debut of films during the Chinese New Year period, Jack Neo’s Midas touch of unabashed feels and patriotism rings heavy in this throwback to yesteryear. Perennial stalwarts like Aileen Tan, Mark Lee and Suhaimi Yusof add to the allure of a film that cuts through generations. Neo keeps to his brand of comic timing, but it is the dedication to the art direction and multi-layered plots (and shift away from the cheap gimmicks Neo is often criticised for) that makes LLTA a sincere tearjerker.

Secret to success: Jack Neo takes a gamble away from gimmicks and tricks – and it pays off.

9) The Angry Birds Movie
Grossed: S$1.9 million

The wildly-popular app finally makes it to the big screen in a widely-anticipated release (matched with the appropriate McDonald’s burger) and the comic timing in this feel-good flick could not be any better. From the motley crew of Red, Chuck and Bomb to the thrilling rush to save the eggs from being eaten by the enemy pigs, this movie will have you on the edge of your seat marvelling at each bird’s superpower being brought to life. And if you’ve not seen the scene of Mighty Eagle peeing, watch it. It’s so uncomfortable, that it’s hilarious just by itself.

Secret to success: An app turned into a movie – could this be the start of more?

10) From Vegas To Macau 3
Grossed: S$1.72 million

Despite landing in the Top 10, there’s a reason why this film does not chart as highly as Mermaid and LLTA. Between absurdist comedy and honest feels, this too-cool-for-school debonair instalment just doesn’t quite live up to the mark. Sure, a change of location to Thailand helps uncover more unique circumstances, but unless you’re here for the timeless banter between Andy Lau and Chow Yun Fatt, there’s not much that can be saved from a staid gambling plot.

Secret to success: Guess a lot of people still love Andy and Yun Fatt, eh?

This all being said, Box Office Mojo has been slightly inconsistent with the updates for Singapore box office performances. One movie that was notably missing from the box-office list was Captain America: Civil War; according to local charts by the Cinematograph Film Exhibitors Association, it stayed on the Number 1 position for three weeks since its debut.

Which films are you expecting top the charts in the later half of the year? Sound off in our comments and tag your friends!

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