Summer Box Office Cooling Off Despite ‘Transformers 4’ Success

Transformers Age of Extinction

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” attracted moviegoers in droves last weekend, but despite its success, the domestic box office is struggling to keep pace with last year’s record-breaking numbers.

Through last weekend, ticket receipts are down 0.9% at $5.19 billion. Thinner numbers for summer tentpole season are largely to blame for the shortfall. Overall, the total box office from the first weekend in May through last weekend is running 13.1% lower, and analysts expect the second quarter, which includes the month of April, to fall roughly 6% when the final numbers are tallied.

“Usually you see more big breakout films, but this year we haven’t seen that one big, massive summer blockbuster,” said Eric Handler, a media and entertainment analyst at MKM Partners.

Going into the summer the stateside box office was up nearly 9%, but its lead has evaporated as big-budget productions have opened big, before flaming out quickly. Only three summer releases — “Maleficent,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” — have passed $200 million domestically. In 2012, it took the first “Spider-Man” reboot two weeks to crack that figure. This year, its follow-up huffed and puffed its way past the same threshold after nine weeks.

That’s also a far cry from 2013, when four films had surpassed $220 million by the same point on the calendar, one of them “Iron Man 3,” which had brought in north of $400 million. Given the slow-down, it looks like this year will have a tough time eclipsing last year’s record of $10.9 billion in receipts.

Wary of seeing their major films compete with World Cup, studios may have decided to keep their powder dry until next year — a decision that could have been a concession to increased importance of the foreign box office. Still a number of films have opened to lofty figures, such as “Godzilla” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” only to plummet by more than 60% in their second weekend of release.

One saving grace is that thus far the summer has been mercifully free of massive bombs. “Blended” flopped, but was relatively inexpensive to produce, and “Edge of Tomorrow” is struggling to recoup its investment, but is being buoyed by the international box office. There’s been nothing to match such day-glo turkeys as “After Earth,” “White House Down” or “The Lone Ranger,” though there’s still two months to go.

Exhibitors and studio executives have publicly stated that the cyclical nature of the business means that summer 2014 is leaner than years past. However, they are positively ebullient when it comes to discussing 2015 and 2016, which offers up such hotly anticipated movies as “Star Wars 7,” “The Avengers 2” and “Batman vs. Superman.”

“2015 should be easily a record breaking year for the box office,” said Tony Wible, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott. “We don’t have a full slate for [2016] for another year, but you’re starting to see some good titles slated.”

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  1. srvwp2013 says:

    The “movies” are figuratively dinosaurs from a Jurassic (with the emphasis on “ass”) age. Not even the targeted demographic of adolescents goes to the movies in the 21st Century. People of a more mature age do not to put up with the annoyances of the cell phone using, talking with your fellow attendee, talking back to the screen audiences. As we see in Variety the industry is only about screening a film in a movie theatre for its premiere. These weekly weekend “horse races” of which film makes the most money are so tiresome come Monday morning. Any given film makes or loses money over its first weekend and then it is out of the movie theatre itself and available on any number of media.

    All that work reduced to a plastic disc. Is it any wonder the industry is losing money. Your average bear movie viewer does not want to put up with the insolence of society and have to pay large dollars for the inconvenience. I cannot even remember the last time I viewed a film in a movie theatre. It must have been decades ago before malls, downtowns, etc. were taken over by Gangs.

    The actors themselves set the tone and standard with in-home movie theatres; good enough for them, good enough for Jack and Jill citizen. Hollywood, or “The Industry,” produces a valueless product, a product aimed at addled brained audiences, in a manner and through venues which people do not to frequent. The Industry is basically making itself extinct.

    It is said that the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, and for that matter America and the world itself, is long, long past gone by. It is said that “they don’t make ’em like that anymore.” Truer words have never been uttered.

  2. Richard says:

    Its not a bad summer I saw Godzilla and will go see transformers (kinda bored of comic book movies so I will wait for video for x-men). No massive hits but no giant bombs either. I think the bigger issue is packing these movies next to one another. They open big but then the next big thing opens up the following week. Guardians and Transformers where smarter for putting space between them and the next big thing. Other then avengers next year I think the trend of opening big then dropping will continue

  3. AHB says:

    Didn’t the box office gurus say 2014 would be a vintage year last year?

  4. harry georgatos says:

    According to early reviews Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes should be the,best reviewed film, if not number one box office hit of the Summer. If not the industry will have to wait for Interstellar and Summer of 2015.

  5. harry georgatos says:

    2015 should be a vintage year. It can only fail with poorly executed products. The only summer films to capture my attention this summer was the new X-Men and Edge Of Tomorrow, which had a weak third act. If only I can fast forward to the Summer of 2015.

  6. LOL says:

    Next year’s Jurassic World is going to be triumphant. All the kids born in the late ’70s/ early ’80s are waiting for it. Don’t mess up.

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