In 2009, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” opened to $85.1 million, and as Nikki Finke points out, this was after scathing reviews (I enjoyed it) and a copy leaked online that no one liked. With better reviews and the weekend all to itself, though, “The Wolverine” might not hit $60 million. This is not a disaster for 20th Century-Fox (the sixth X-Men film’s budget was modest), but you would expect a superhero franchise flick released in the heart of summer to be doing a little better.
Finke points out that when compared to this time last year, this weekend’s box office will still be up 28%, but year-to-year this summer’s numerous flops are taking a toll. The overall US box office is down 19% from 2012, which was a record year.
To be fair, however, this isn’t as “doom-ish” as some make it sound. 2012 was an extraordinary year for Hollywood, and 2013 might just be the box office settling back to normal. According to Box Office Mojo, Hollywood has raked in $5.61 billion thus far. This is ahead of the $5.40 and $5.44 billion Hollywood took in on this same date in 2011 and 2010, respectively. When you figure in inflation, we are probably looking at a tie.
It should be pointed out, though, that 2011 and 2010 were considered minor disappointments; proof that, at best, ticket sales are flat.
A look at the films yet to be released this summer probably don’t give Hollywood much confidence. Other than “Smurfs 2,” there is nothing sure-fire — no “Avengers,” “Iron Man,” or “Dark Knight.”
Hollywood and those who slavishly cover it are coming up with all kinds of excuses for the troubling number of tentpoles flopping this summer: The calendar is too crowded, too many “Die Hard at the White House” films in a single year… The New York Post’s Kyle Smith did find one connecting factor to most of these flops — they were all left-wing message movies.
Another problem, obviously, is the death of the movie star. No one says, “Hey Let’s go see that Channing Tatum/JamieFoxx/Ethan Hawke movie.”
Why would they?
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