Can ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Rescue the Summer Box Office?

Can 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Rescue

The box office bad news is mounting, with “Guardians of the Galaxy” emerging as the best hope to bolster the sagging domestic film market.

The summer box office is down roughly 20% from 2013’s record-breaking highs and year-to-date overall ticket sales are off more than 6%. The only relief in sight is an intergalactic band of superheroes that are well-loved by comic-book aficionados and little-known to the rest of us.

“‘Guardians’ is the biggest swing factor in August,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “Most Augusts there are surprises like we saw last year with ‘The Butler.’ Nothing stands out right now, so we’ll have to see.”

“Guardians” has been well-received on social media and elsewhere, but is not as recognizable a brand as Iron Man or Captain America, so gauging how the movie will be received is tricky.

“To put all that pressure on one movie is unfair, but it is a Marvel movie and obviously you can’t say the summer is over when there’s still a Marvel movie left to come,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak.

Initial tracking is positive and the picture should do well, but hitting the box office numbers enjoyed by members of the Avengers might be a stretch. That means that other August releases such as “Expendables 3” and “Lucy” will have to shatter expectations if the gap between this summer and last is to be closed or at least narrowed.

The safe bet is that the third quarter of 2014 will see another dip at the box office, particularly since there have been six straight weekends of decline. Studio executives argue that many recent films, such as “Sex Tape” and “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” have fallen short of tracking, because less foot traffic in theaters means fewer eyeballs on their posters, trailers and other promotional bells-and-whistles.

The downward trends are causing some analysts to revise their projections for the overall box office in the southerly direction. Morgan Stanley, for instance, just revised its predictions for 2014 from a 1% to 2% drop to a 4% to 5% fall. The investment firm notes that though this fall offers potential hits such as “Interstellar,” another “Hunger Games” and the final installment “The Hobbit,” it may have trouble finding films that eclipse expectations in the vein of “Frozen” and “Gravity.” Moreover, last fall also saw fresh sequels in the “Hunger Games” and “Hobbit” franchises, and this holiday season lacks a top-tier comic-book sequel such as “Thor: The Dark World.”

Analysts are also quick to note that 2015 looks robust, given that it will field new chapters in the James Bond, “Avengers” and “Star Wars” sagas.

“We continue to see a strong slate of sequels driving a record box office in ‘15,” the Morgan Stanley report reads.

The industry has been preparing investors and observers for the downturn for months, and so far exhibitors such as Cinemark, AMC and Regal have seen the value of their shares grow or remain stable throughout the summer.

Likewise, movie studios are now so thoroughly enmeshed in sprawling media conglomerates that their rise or fall at the box office does little to move their stock price. That kind of thing happens when Rupert Murdoch gets a hankering to absorb another entertainment giant, not when “Blended” bombs.

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  1. So, you are saying that because people haven’t been watching movies, and there has been poor showing in the movies (because of flops like Sex Tape), that Captain America The Winter Soldier was a “poor showing?” What about the hype surrounding TMNT!? What about The Expendables 3, with it’s all-star cast? Why don’t you showcase them, instead of focusing on ONE Marvel movie? This is why I really detest critics and “analysts.” You can’t see what the movies have really done. Oh, and what about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? That movie rocked, and it had a really good showing it’s first weekend.

  2. It’s of note to point out that Hobbit sequel dropped hard from first Hobbit movie while Hunger Games sequel outgrossed first Hunger Games movies even when adjusted to inflation. Hobbit DOS is the first Middle Earth movie never to reach 300M domestically. Heck, it couldn’t even reach 260M. And it had advantage of 3D and IMAX premium as well as inflation. Serves this soulless, style over substance cash grab trilogy right.

    Of non-franchise end-of-the-year movies, best potential for break out has Interstellar (trailer is playing extremely well with family men, not to mention genre audience). other than that, Big Hero 6, Unbroken and Exodus could pull big boxoffice. Especially Exodus (Biblical epic released during Xmas season).

  3. Jacques Strappe says:

    Guardians looks like fun, summer escapist fare. I’ve generally enjoyed the Marvel films coming out of Marvel Studios more than FOX and SONY. This should do well and help to improve overall box office numbers this year but it is doubtful this one film will be able to push total box office numbers into positive territory relative to last year.

  4. harry georgatos says:

    Time for Paramount to release John Woo’s 3&1/2 hour directors cut of Mission:Impossible 2 for home entertainment thank-you very much. The world has waited long enough and should have happened a long time ago. A donkey could have seen this happening! Paramount should get its house in order as it stands to make more cash with the directors cuf that everyone has been waiting for.

  5. harry georgatos says:

    Time for Paramount to release John Woo’s 3&1/2 hour directors cut of Mission:Impossible 2 for home entertainment thank-you very much. The world has waited long enough and should have happened a long time ago. A donkey could have seen this happening!

  6. Maybe at some point the studios will finally realise that many people think 3D is rubbish,and start making movies more widely available in 2D.
    I live in London and was unable to find an evening showing of X-Men in 2D in my general area. So I didn’t see it. I don’t think I know anyone who went to see it in the cinema…

  7. Stefopolis says:

    Why would it? This looks like exactly the same kind of garbage that has been bringing down the average all summer. After the tens of thousands of fanboys who actually know what this crap is (the rest of us sure don’t) see it on opening night, I predict horrendous drops when no one else cares and the fanboys tell their friends how boring and awful the movie most likely is. Another Green Lantern, for certain.

    I hope a lot of careers get lost on this one. Time to get some new blood in at the studios. They can’t just rely on domestic BO anymore. It’s time to bring it back to the great popcorn movies of the 80s and early 90s. It may take a little more effort and talent to make a Burton Batman (1/2), a Terminator 1/2, RoboCop or Back to the Future, but if we can just put all the current execs in a box and mail it off to an exotic island somewhere where they don’t have to work (just basking in the sun and eating coconuts), then EVERYONE would be happy.

    • Jerome Maida says:

      Kindly get over yourself. YOU don’t know what “Guardians” is, so it must be bad? It looks like good, old-fashioned FUN, although you may not know what that is. This could be the younger generation’s “Star Wars”…something that captures their imagination. To automatically declare it “boring” and “awful” without having a clue about it is abused. “I hope a lot of careers get lost on this one”? Really? Over a movie you haven’t even seen yet. You need help.

    • jedi77 says:

      I predict that you will be wrong, sir.

    • stefopolis says:

      Switch “domestic BO” with “foreign.”

      • Lorenzaccio says:

        Switch it the way you wish, I want to be here in August to see your reaction after Guardians’ BO triumph. You talk about a movie you know nothing about, in a way that clearly shows you did not get what it is about, and “hope” the people who worked on it will loose their job. Well, so far all critics are enthusiastic about the movie. Luckily you do not work in the cinema industry, otherwise you would be the one to be unemployed soon

  8. I want to see nothing but action, comedy, sex, funny, a little romance and blockbusters movies that are still coming out in 2014 but the most talk about year will be 2015 with 8 movies destined to break the all time box offices

  9. MovieGeek says:

    Maybe they should make better movies… then people would start getting interested again…

    • jedi77 says:

      The movies this summer have actually been pretty good. I think there is a general consensus on that point.
      But, people would apparently rather go see Transformers again, than one of those good films. So, no. Better movies don’t get people interested. Bad movies do.

  10. Sid Matheson says:

    “because less foot traffic in theaters “? You can’t be serious?! We all have friends and all connected to the internet on movie releases. Movies like Guardians are well-known and anticipated. If this movie doesn’t do well, it won’t be from lacking of trying. I’m expecting a huge success here. Frankly, of the three movies you mentioned previously, Sex-Tape was the most interesting, but critics have panned it.

  11. Bill says:

    Perhaps budgets have gotten WAY out of hand when $300M+ domestic box office draws are considered disappointing.

  12. Casual Reader says:

    None of the comic/superhero flix have done colossal biz this year – Cap’n America, Amazing Spidey2, X-Men all capping out between 2 and 260 million domestic – barely recouping their costs. Guardians looks like every other comic book flick. Will the masses turn out for wise-assery and a raccoon? I’m predicting so-so returns on this one. These are no longer “event” pictures; they’ve become Movies of the Week.

  13. WalterWhite says:

    PFFFFFF.. Seriously relying on this to save the summer box office,good luck! LOL

  14. nerdrage says:

    It’ll be big but not big enough to bring this summer up to par.

  15. Guardians of the Galaxy will rule the worldwide box office this summer.

  16. Ivan says:

    Can’t wait for Guardians of the Galaxy. It looks better than Star Wars 7.

    • Based on WHAT exactly?? There have been no movie trailers or movie stills released for Episode 7 to even compare the two and, no offense to Guardians of the Galaxy, but there will never be a time where it will even be compared to a Star Wars film.

      • Lex Walker says:

        Wait what? Really? Never a time where it will even be compared to a Star Wars film? It’s a space opera with comic elements. That’s the same genre as Star Wars. There’s an easy comparison right there. Chris Pratt’s character is essentially a Han Solo whose life is a bit more messed up. The comparisons to Star Wars are going to be all over the place.

      • nerdrage says:

        If the rumors that hit the internet today are true, I’m with our Soviet friend here. Anyway, it’s obvious that Guardians of the Galaxy will throw down the Infinity Gaunlet to show how space adventure should be done. I’m not at all certain Abrams can come up to that level.

  17. Cath says:

    No one really expected “Frozen” and “Gravity” to do as well as they did last year either. Considering what came out last year maybe the projections for this year’s box office should have been lowered from the beginning. Hard to compete with last year’s summer line-up.

    • Frozen and Gravity did so well precisely because they didn’t follow the tired “formula of success” that’s the real reason for summer boxoffice drop – cartoonish action, weird latex costumes, monster and/or superpower/superhero mash, big battles that create too much noise and overstay their welcome after first 7 minutes but are stretched to 40 minutes, inane romance. Most summer movies looked the same to general public that isn’t too invested in distinguishing between this and that super hero or monster or whatever. especially since the same type of movies is released 2-3 times a year every year. In short, movies now look same-y and price of the admission is too high.

      • Ian Hirst says:

        But which summer movies are you referring to? Dawn of the Apes has surpassed Rise of the Apes both in takings and storytelling and I loved Rise even though I wasn’t sure before I went to see it. This film showed how to reinvent a classic film for a modern audience.

  18. brady1987 says:

    ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ actually might do well at the box office too. The franchise and current TV series is popular. The film might appeal to boys and families.

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