Final summer box office came in slightly higher than expected, at $4.75 billion — a new record, up nearly 8% over the $4.4 billion summer benchmark set in 2011. Admissions, at approximately 567 million, saw a four-year high, but not a record, according to the National Assn. of Theater Owners.
Year-to-date domestic B.O., totaling $7.67 billion, also eclipsed last year’s record-setting pace, though total admissions, at 940 million, are down 2%.
Summer totals were estimated several weeks ago to reach a record. The bar was raised even higher, thanks to several standout August releases, including “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “We’re the Millers.”
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“The Butler” just scored its third weekend atop the domestic box office, the first film to do so this year; while “Millers,” with $113 million, surpassed Warner Bros. other (much pricier) R-rated summer comedy, “The Hangover Part III.”
Other films to goose grosses last minute included Sony’s “Elysium,” which so far has amassed north of $80 million domestically, and Disney’s “Planes,” with nearly $75 million.
Despite the record, misfires were bigger and more numerous than in year’s past, providing a crucial lesson for the studios.
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A few earlier bombs managed to eke out some extra coin late in the summer, including Warner-Legendary Pictures’ $180 million-plus budgeted “Pacific Rim,” which just crossed $100 million Stateside and $400 million globally. Also, “Elysium,” which cost $115 million to produce, reached $178 million worldwide and counting.
When it comes to benchmarks, the year’s remaining films have a high bar to meet, though some of the fall’s buzziest titles — “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Thor: The Dark World” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” — have plenty of heat behind them.