Why Summer 2014 Never Had a Shot at the Box Office

by     Posted 135 days ago

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The holiday box office totals are in and, frankly, they’re not good.  We had three new wide releases make their way into over 3,000 theaters this weekend, but they still couldn’t top last weekend’s top contender, Transformers: Age of Extinction.  As noted in our weekend box office recap, Tammy took $21.2 million, Deliver Us From Evil claimed $9.5 million and Earth to Echo kicked off its run with just $8.3 million.  Even if you add up all three of those opening totals, that’s only about $39 million and even that pales in comparison to last year’s Independence Day weekend top earner alone, Despicable Me 2, which posted an impressive $83.5 million to start.

Sure, you could blame the weak holiday weekend on the fact that the new releases aren’t all that good or perhaps because July 4th fell on a Friday, but this isn’t the only problematic weekend of summer 2014.  The box office is down significantly for the summer season overall.  Why is that?  The answer is actually pretty obvious.  Find out what it is after the jump.

transformers-4-box-officeAccording to Variety, the summer box office is down almost 20%.  By this time last year, the summer box office had already accumulated roughly $2.8 billion.  This year, we’re at just $2.3 billion so far.  That’s a pretty big dip, but anyone could have predicted it.  Just compare the summer 2014 lineup to what we got last year.

The most anticipated movies of the summer season will differ from person to person, but if we just consider the films that tend to crack the $60 million mark – superhero movies, action franchises and animated films – summer 2013 had a better shot at breaking records simply because it had more of them.  If we stick to those categories, at this point in 2013, we had seen the following:

1. Iron Man 3
2. Star Trek Into Darkness
3. Fast & Furious 6
4. After Earth
5. Man of Steel
6. Monsters University
7. World War Z
8. White House Down
9. Despicable Me 2
10. Lone Ranger

Now of course, some of those movies didn’t wind up doing as well as one might have hoped, but if we go back to, let’s say, early 2013 or even before that, when these titles were nothing more than a genre, studio, some famous faces and possibly a highly anticipated sequel, they were the potential summer tentpoles.  If we play the same game with summer 2014, here’s what we get:

the-amazing-spider-man-2-box-office1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
2. Godzilla
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
4. Maleficent
5. Edge of Tomorrow
6. How to Train Your Dragon 2
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction 

How is summer 2014 possibly supposed to compete with summer 2013 when it’s got three less wannabe big earners?  Perhaps the quality of the films hitting theaters this weekend had a little something to do with the low holiday numbers, but it’s also because Tammy, Deliver Us From Evil and Earth to Echo are not traditional high-earning summer fare.  And this won’t be the last time we find ourselves in this position this summer either.  At this point last year, there were seven heavy hitters left.  This year, we’re down to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s it.

Godzilla is still in theaters yet has earned more than Star Trek Into Darkness did during its entire run, X-Men: Days of Future Past is hovering around Fast & Furious 6’s domestic grand total and Transformers is already well beyond the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office.  Our summer 2014 superhero/action-heavy/franchise films are doing just fine.  There’s just less of them this time around.  I have no problem getting The Fault in Our Stars, Neighbors and even Earth to Echo-type films in place of some more traditional summer tentpoles, but even when one of those movies hits it big, like Fault in Our Stars for example, it’s still not going to come close to producing earnings that are high enough to make this summer another record breaker.

Summer 2015, however, will be a different story.  With Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Monster Trucks, B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, San Andreas, Jurassic World, Fantastic Four, Inside Out, Terminator, Minions, Ant-Man and the new Peter Pan film all scheduled to hit theaters during the summer season, it’s almost a guarantee that this time next year, the box office will be up.

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