Transformers Age of Extinction

The summer box office is down nearly 20% following a July 4th holiday weekend that failed to ignite many fireworks at the multiplexes.

Despite hits such as “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “22 Jump Street,” domestic ticket sales have topped out at $2.3 billion from the first weekend in May through Independence Day weekend, off 19.3% from $2.8 billion through the same period in 2013, according to Rentrak.

Lackluster receipts have pushed the total for the year down as well. Currently, the overall box office is off 3.8% from last year, according to BoxOffice.com. That’s a steep drop-off considering that going into the summer, the stateside box office was up nearly 9%.

“When you look at the overall picture and the percentages it’s not pretty at this point,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “Thank goodness we have ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ coming, because we need it. Boy, do we need it.”

Compounding issues was a July 4th weekend that saw ticket sales fall nearly 45% compared with last year’s holiday. In place of “Despicable Me 2,” the domestic box office saw the introduction of a trio of mid-budget productions –“Tammy,” “Deliver Us From Evil” and “Earth to Echo” — that struggled to draw crowds away from barbecues and fireworks displays.

Given the slow-down, 2014 will likely fall short of last year’s record of $10.9 billion in receipts. This year’s crop of sequels and superhero films just couldn’t match the box office heft of “Iron Man 3,” “World War Z” and “Monsters University.”

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