Why Hollywood Is Having Its Worst Summer at the Box Office in Eight Years

Jul 24, 2014  •  Post A Comment

With box office receipts down substantially this year, the U.S. movie business is experiencing its worst summer in eight years, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The season is expected to finish down 15 to 20 percent compared with 2013, the worst year-over-year decline in three decades, and revenue will struggle to crack $4 billion, which hasn’t happened in eight years. As a result, analysts predict that the full year is facing a deficit of 4 to 5 percent,” the article reports.

The piece notes that revenue for summer 2013 set a North American record, hitting $4.75 billion. But among the factors hurting the performance of summer 2014 were the pre-summer, early April, opening of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and the delay of “Fast & Furious 7,” which was pushed from July 2014 to April 2015 after the death of star Paul Walker.

Said Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian: “Moviegoing begets moviegoing, and we have lost our momentum. People aren’t seeing trailers and marketing materials. They still want to go to the movies — they just want to go to really good movies.”

The THR report adds: “Although there have been no ‘Lone Ranger’-size debacles, for the first time since 2001 no summer pic will cross $300 million domestically (‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ ‘Maleficent’ and ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ hover near $230 million). May kicked off with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ earning $200 million less domestically than 2013’s ‘Iron Man 3’; by July 20, the divide had swelled to nearly $690 million as revenue topped out at $2.71 billion, down 20 percent compared with the same period last year.”

The international market continues to be strong and is making up for some, but not all, of the damage, the report notes.

“‘Spider-Man 2’ topped out at $706.2 million globally, notably behind the $757.9 million earned by ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ in 2012,” THR reports.

Amy Pascal, Sony co-chairman, told THR: “I would have liked Amazing Spider-Man 2 to make a lot more money for us than it did, but it made a lot of money for us anyway.”

The report adds: “‘X-Men’ is the only tentpole that has earned more than its predecessor domestically (‘X-Men: First Class’ grossed $146.4 million in 2011), contributing to Fox’s best summer in years (it is No. 1 in market share). But Paramount’s ‘Age of Extinction’ has grossed far less than previous ‘Transformers’ movies domestically, though it will be the first 2014 film to hit $1 billion worldwide thanks to $300 million in China.”

At least one analyst is talking about a demo shift. Said Phil Contrino: “Young men haven’t been as enthusiastic as usual. Maybe [studios] shouldn’t just go after this demo when building their summer tentpoles.”

And the THR report notes: “Female-fueled properties, including ‘Maleficent’ and ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ have produced some of the summer’s biggest success stories.”

The report notes a shortage of family films, including the absence of a Pixar movie this summer, along with the proliferation of new options in home entertainment. Said one studio executive: “I wish I worked at Netflix.”

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