×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

MoviePass, Diversity and Just Good Films Led to Sizzling Summer Box Office

Last summer season spawned one apocalyptic headline after another to deliver a singular message: the box office was the worst it had been in over a decade.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” kicked off popcorn season in 2017 with a promising start. From there, things quickly took a turn for the worse. Aside from “Wonder Woman,” “Spider-Man Homecoming,” and “Dunkirk,” the movie industry suffered a string of flops across the next four months that resulted in a 14.6% drop from the previous season. Summer is synonymous with big-budget action flicks and superhero tentpoles. So why couldn’t last year deliver? Analysts pointed to unwarranted sequels from tired franchises for failing to fill theaters.

Fast forward to 2018, and a number of overperforming blockbusters have propelled the box office up 13.6%, according to comScore. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” and “Deadpool 2” are just a few titles that proved franchise fatigue doesn’t exist when the sequel in question delivers a quality product.

“To me, ‘Incredibles 2’ was the one that was the most impressive,” Imax CEO Greg Foster said. “It transcended generations. It had this authenticity with this family that we just adore. It made it feel fresh, and that it was worth the wait.”

Audiences have high expectations for popular series, and they aren’t always easy to meet. Last summer, studios learned the hard way that just because there’s a built-in fanbase doesn’t mean moviegoers will get excited for new installments. That was the case, at least, for franchises like “Transformers: The Last Knight” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” that seemed to be running on fumes.

“You have to try 10 times harder to make a sequel live up to the original.” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “You need to raise the stakes and do something audiences don’t expect. We didn’t get a lot of that last summer.”

That’s not the say this summer didn’t have its missteps (the failure of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” raised some alarms). But as a whole, tentpoles more than carried their weight and outperformed expectations. “Fallen Kingdom” generated over $1 billion, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” picked up $211 million in North America and $332 internationally, and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” earned $345 million so far. Hollywood can finally breathe a sigh of relief, for now.

“It comes down to content,” Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein said. “There were just good movies that people wanted to see. As an industry, we did a good job of marketing movies to audiences that wanted to see them.”

It wasn’t just follow-ups that raked in the dough. There were a few surprise successes to help bolster the box office. “The Meg” proved that moviegoers simply love sharks, “Crazy Rich Asians” showed that diversity might be able to save the rom-com genre, and “Book Club” served as a testament to the value of older moviegoers. Meanwhile, indies like “Eighth Grade,” “Sorry to Bother You,” and “RBG” became breakout hits of the summer, further bringing diversity and empowerment to the forefront of conversations.

“There was just the right combination at different studios,” Foster said. “The second half of the summer was a heck of a lot better than everyone expected.”

There was also a new player in the game who can’t be discounted. MoviePass looks like it’s about to crash and burn, but the rookie company shook up the exhibition industry enough to prove that, in one way or another, subscription-based services are here to stay. By charging a flat monthly rate, MoviePass brought out people who might not otherwise be inclined to shell out to see multiple movies over the summer. Though the perfect model has yet to be refined, tickets have never been pricier. Moviegoers are more likely than ever to opt for an alternative that gives them more bang for their buck.

“Hollywood doesn’t want to say it’s a big factor, but it absolutely is. The only reason to deny it is because MoviePass is a rogue entity.” Bock said. “People were excited because it was affordable again.”

More Film

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

  • Kristen Stewart

    French Director Olivier Assayas Pays Tribute to Kristen Stewart at Deauville

    French director Olivier Assayas paid tribute to Kristen Stewart, whom he directed in “Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Personal Shopper,” at the Deauville American Film Festival on Friday evening. Stewart received a honorary award in Deauville before the French premiere of Benedict Andrews’s “Seberg” in which the actress stars as Jean Seberg, a French New [...]

  • Liam Gallagher: As It Was

    Film Review: 'Liam Gallagher: As It Was'

    Liam Gallagher is nearly as fascinating a rock ‘n’ roll figure as he thinks he is … which is saying a lot. After the breakup of Oasis, one of the most self-avowedly arrogant stars in pop culture found himself severely humbled, fighting to become relevant again without the help of Noel, his ex-bandmate and, for [...]

  • The Vast of Night

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Vast of Night'

    It’s the first high school basketball game of the season and all of Cayuga, N.M., population 492, is cheering on the Statesmen at the gym. Except for the town’s two brightest kids, Everett (Jake Horowitz) and Fay (Sierra McCormick), who are strolling through the empty darkness to their respective jobs as a radio DJ and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content