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Can ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘The Meg’ Prevent an August Box Office Slump?

The summer box office started with a bang, but a lackluster August means it will likely end with a whimper.

That might not matter, considering as a whole, popcorn season is up a healthy 10.6%, according to comScore. That improvement is thanks to the smash successes of a few Spandexed heroes and some rogue dinosaurs as this summer’s top earning titles include “Avengers Infinity War” ($678 million), “Incredibles 2” ($583 million), “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” ($405 million), and “Deadpool 2” ($318 million).

It’s possible that “Christopher Robin’s” $25 million start might deliver the month’s best opening. Analysts think that “The Meg” and “Crazy Rich Asians” could be surprise breakouts, though it seems unlikely that either film will reach blockbuster levels. Right now, Warner Bros.’ shark thriller “The Meg” is tracking between $18 million and $23 million when it debuts next weekend. At the end of the month, “Crazy Rich Asians,” another Warners effort, is eyeing a five-day total ranging from $18 million to $24 million. If those don’t work, moviegoers may also respond to the Mark Wahlberg thriller “Mile 22” or the raunchy Melissa McCarthy comedy “The Happytime Murders.”

Granted, it’s not all about opening weekends. With a little breathing room after a cluster of tentpoles front-loaded the first half of summer, these smaller titles will have time to generate word of mouth and grow an audience.

“Especially with the lack of major titles, things can develop legs into Labor Day weekend,” Shawn Robbins, an analyst with BoxOffice.com. “That helps most movies.”

All things considered, the last stretch of summer will easily top 2017’s dismal August returns. That’s not saying much, considering last year brought in the lowest box office earnings for the month since 1997. Of course, 2017 had a lot to live up to after “Suicide Squad” helped deliver a record-breaking August the prior year.

August does have somewhat of a track record of generating sleeper hits — “The Sixth Sense,” “Sausage Party,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “The Fugitive” are a few titles that broke out at the end of summer.

“Despite often being described as the ‘dog days,’ August has delivered some of the edgiest, coolest and most notable films of any given summer movie season,” Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst with comScore, noted. “This shows how unpredictable the eighth month can be. And that’s what makes it so great.”

Lucky for 2017, “It” came along to deliver a record-smashing September and dig August out of box office doldrums. Will 2018 provide the same surprise?

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