Summer Flops Threaten to Push Hollywood Box Office to Lowest Level in Decade

Sony Pictures

Hollywood’s domestic box office receipts have tanked by more than 12 percent this summer over the same time period last year and could fall even further as the industry braces for a late-August schedule devoid of any must-see event films.

The films scheduled to hit theaters over the next two weekends lack the big-budget box office promise of years past, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And with just two of the six films starring A-list talent, and without a Wonder Woman or Guardians of the Galaxy in sight to save it, August will likely close the curtain on one of Hollywood’s worst summer sales slumps in years.

What’s more, in an ominous sign for the industry, there are no films opening in wide release during the already traditionally quiet Labor Day weekend — the first time that has reportedly happened in more than 20 years.

“The lack of any wide release on Labor Day weekend for the first time in years is a symbolic and fitting curtain closer on a very rough summer at the multiplex,” comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told THR. “Despite a great lineup of films, the failure of at least a handful of summer tentpoles to connect with audiences and critics, unfortunately left the season high and dry.”

Stephanie Sigman and Lulu Wilson star in Warner Bros.’ ‘Annabelle: Creation,’ the lone bright spot on the August calendar this summer. (Warner Bros.)

‘The Nut Job 2’ fared considerably worse, picking up just $8 million in wide release. (Open Road Films)

August has seen just one money-making film thus far. Annabelle: Creation, a prequel to the 2014 horror film Annabelle, took in $35 million in its opening weekend. That performance, however, is a far cry in comparison to ToonBox Entertainment and Open Road Films’ animated sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which debuted to $8.3 million from 4,003 theaters — on a reported $42 million budget — “good” enough to make it the worst opening in history for a wide release on over 4,000 screens.

Opening August 18 is The Hitman’s Bodyguard, an R-rated comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Logan Lucky, the latter of which boasts a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Insiders will be closely watching the box office returns on Logan Lucky, a race heist movie starring Channing Tatum, due to Soderbergh’s unique distribution model for the film.

But the rest of the month is noticeably devoid of any big-name offerings. The last weekend of summer will see the release of the horror film Polaroid, the period drama Tulip Fever, modern kung-fu movie Birth of the Dragon and the animated film Leap!

Overall, total Hollywood box office revenue is also down 3.5 percent, at a current total of $7.18 billion. If domestic box office falls past a 15 percent threshold for the summer, it would mark the worst year-over-year decline for the summer box office in modern history, according to the Hollywood Reporter.


Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson