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.
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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.”