Summer Box Office Set to Cool Down

Johnny Storm Michael B Jordan Fantastic
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The summer box office has peaked.

Nothing, not “Fantastic Four” nor “Straight Outta Compton,” will allow it to suck in the rarefied air it was breathing in May and June. Over the next few weeks, domestic ticket sales will struggle to keep pace with the previous year’s numbers.

Although the summer of 2014 was one of the worst in decades, August was uncharacteristically robust. “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” formed a potent duo, jump-starting multiplexes and powering ticket sales for the month past the $1 billion mark for the first time in history.

This go round, while “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Sinister 2” may have their fans, there’s nothing on the horizon that seems likely to repeat that trick.

“‘Guardians’ was obviously one of the biggest movies of the year and there’s nothing here that matches that,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “The first two weeks in August are going to be tough comparisons.”

For August, superhero adventure “Fantastic Four” and rap drama “Straight Outta Compton” arrive with the loudest buzz, but its unlikely that either film will match “Guardians'” $94.3 million debut or “Ninja Turtles'” $65.6 million bow. The good news is that some July releases, such as “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” should hold up well in coming weeks, buoyed by strong reviews and word of mouth.

The outsized success of films like “Minions” has masked the fact that the summer has been cooling down for several weeks. The industry enjoyed the second largest June and the largest May in history, but July’s $1.2 billion haul was below the five-year average of $1.27 billion.

“We are not going to kill it every single month, but the year is going well and we’re still on a record path,” said Erik Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners.

Handler believes that the slew of big budget sequels hitting theaters over Thanksgiving and Christmas — a group that includes “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and new James Bond and Hunger Games films — will enable domestic ticket sales to pass $11 billion for the first time. He notes that six of the past seven months have topped 2014’s figures.

“There’s usually something that breaks out in August and surprises in a big way,” said Handler. “We’ll have to see what that is this year.”

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  1. Q says:

    The two shootings this summer will scare away audiences

  2. Sam E says:

    Yes, August box office is less that profitable than the July box office basically every year but that said the BO year to date is approximately a half billion above last year.The BO trailed the same weekend where Guardians opened by 30 million and Fantastic Four will probably not match the latest TMNT movie. That said Straight Outta Compton, The Man from Uncle and American Ultra all have reasonable chances to open bigger than any film last year did in the second half of August. Basically the article is making a somewhat false comparison because August 1st happened to be on a Saturday instead of a Friday this year.

  3. Michael says:

    Same could have been told before Guardians of the Galaxy came out last year. And i’m pretty sure nobody expected Jurassic World to become more successful than Age of Ultron. These articles as always underestimate modern audiences

  4. macd says:

    The rest of this summer belongs to “Mission Impossible-5”, and I’m quite happy about that.

  5. popcorn says:

    “fantastic” four does Not look all that fantastic…..
    I’ll skip this one and I will go watch Mission Impossible instead, for the second time ;)

  6. Matt says:

    We’ll show you, Variety.

    EVERYONE, GO SEE FANTASTIC FOUR!
    It looks fun.

  7. Lucas Rooney says:

    Star Wars+Bond+Hunger Games… you guys have no idea what’s coming.

    • Joom says:

      Yes they do, they even mention them in the article, but those are out in November and December which are decidedly now “summer”.

  8. Rationalist says:

    Wouldn’t this article have benefited from some numbers, i.e. actual tracking or predicted figures for the films under discussion?

  9. nerdrage says:

    “Despite” or “because of”?

  10. Adam says:

    Why do most of these movie industry analysis articles ignore the foreign box office? The domestic box office has been pretty stagnant at best while the foreign box office is gaining a greater marketshare year after year.

  11. What do you mean, “despite Fantastic Four?!?!” This movie has been roundly rejected by the Geekverse more than any other of it’s genre – EVER. The cbm audience is calling it the next Batman & Robin, but worse! NO ONE is looking forward to FF, it’s a very expensive looking mess.

  12. 75554313 says:

    VACATION, TRAINWRECK, & MINIONS>> BEST MOVIES OF THE SUMMER! :D

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