Any hope Hollywood had for a record 2014 box office is pretty much over. Although the year started out with a triumphant run that found the box office up 9% over 2013 at the end of April, a disappointing summer has erased those gains.
As of this week, 2014 has officially fallen behind last year, and the tea leaves tell Box Office Mojo that no relief is in sight:
Unfortunately, the situation isn’t going to improve much in the next few weeks. Over this past weekend, the Top 12 earned $138.8 million, which was off a massive 40 percent from the same weekend last year: Think Like a Man Too and Jersey Boys were no match for Monsters University and World War Z.
Transformers: Age of Extinction should substantially close the gap this coming weekend. However, the Fourth of July is looking pretty dire. Last year, Despicable Me 2, The Lone Ranger and Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain combined to earn over $123 million. That’s a tally that Tammy, Deliver Us From Evil and Earth to Echo have no chance of matching.
Ultimately, July 2014 will almost certainly lag behind July 2013’s $1.37 billion (the second-biggest month ever).
USA Today calls this the “Flop of Summer 2014” but reports that Hollywood isn’t sweatin’ it. The film industry has counted the un-hatched chickens of 2015 and is feeling nothing but optimism:
“People have been talking about 2015 since 2013,” says Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak. “So now, 2015 is acting as a kind of salve for this year.”
Anchored by continuing stories of Star Wars, Superman (featuring Batman),Avengers and Hunger Games, 2015’s slate is being touted by pundits as one of Hollywood’s best ever, and a certain record-breaker.
The industry could use the momentum, because forward progress has stopped this summer. After a blistering winter and a strong spring pushed ticket sales to 9% ahead of last year’s pace, the lead evaporated in fewer than eight weeks.
The problem this summer has been too many movies that opened huge but then collapsed 50% to 60% the following weekend. Nothing has had any real staying power. Whether that’s due to poor word-of-mouth, the front-loading of too many blockbusters, or a combination of both, nothing has passed the magical $300 million mark that makes a summer season soar.
For the past decade-plus, box office growth has been pretty much flat. Actual ticket sales are even worse. Home video sales have studio execs on anti-depressants.
The film business is no longer a growth business. The industry has a hit a wall. Sucking up to fanboys and teens will only get you so far. They are a fickle, disloyal bunch faithful only to the next shiny thing.