With kids out of schools, summertime is usually box office gold for Hollywood, but not the summer of 2014.
Pamela McClintock reports for The Hollywood Reporter, July 23, 2014, that we’re now less than six weeks before Labor Day, the traditional end of summer, and hopes for recovery at the North American summer box office have evaporated.
Hollywood’s summer box office is expected to finish down by as much as 15% to 20% compared with 2013, the worst year-over-year decline in three decades. Total revenue for the summer of 2014 will struggle to crack $4 billion, which hasn’t happened in eight years. As a result, analysts predict that the full year is facing a deficit of 4% to 5%.
Even bullish observers are grim. Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian says, “Moviegoing begets moviegoing, and we have lost our momentum. People aren’t seeing trailers and marketing materials. They still want to go to the movies — they just want to go to really good movies.”
Although there have been no Lone Ranger-size debacles, for the first time since 2001 no summer pic will cross $300 million domestically (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Maleficent and Transformers: Age of Extinction hover near $230 million). May kicked off with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 earning $200 million less domestically than 2013’s Iron Man 3; by July 20, the divide had swelled to nearly $690 million as revenue topped out at $2.71 billion, down 20% compared with the same period last year. Many medium-size studio movies also have underperformed this summer, including Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West and Sony’s comedy Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz (who is so stupid she thinks she can shave her vagina) which opened July 18 to a meager $14.6 million.
International returns remain strong, making up for some of the damage, but in certain cases they aren’t enough. Spider-Man 2 topped out at $706.2 million globally, notably behind the $757.9 million earned by The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012.
“Young men haven’t been as enthusiastic as usual,” says analyst Phil Contrino. “Maybe [studios] shouldn’t just go after this demo when building their summer tentpoles.” Female-fueled properties, including Maleficent and The Fault in Our Stars, have produced some of the summer’s biggest success stories.
Also contributing to the malaise is a lack of family product (including no Pixar movie), the allure of TV and myriad ways consumers can view entertainment in their homes. One studio executive laments, “I wish I worked at Netflix.”
More interesting than the Hollywood Reporter article are the readers’ comments, many of whom lay the blame on Hollyweird’s insistence on ramming their left-wing politics down our throats.
Let’s hear from you, FOTM’s readers, on this!