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.”
“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.”
Despite the record, misfires were bigger and more numerous than in year’s past, providing a crucial lesson for the studios.
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.