5 things to take from weak summer box office

NEW YORK — The movie of the summer might have been Marvel’s irreverent hit “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the top domestic film at the box office. Or it could have been Michael Bay’s sequel-reboot hybrid “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the lone movie to even approach $1 billion globally.

But really, the movie of the summer was “Star Wars: Episode VII.” Even though it’s not due in theaters for more than a year, no other film captured the popcorn-hunger of moviegoers quite like J.J. Abrams’ resurrection of George Lucas’ space opera. As the blockbuster-to-come went into production over the summer, every bit of casting news was eagerly consumed; every hint of its plot was carefully parsed. Nothing can stop it, not even the broken leg of an aged Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), at the mercy of a mechanical door on his trusty Millennium Falcon, no less.

The rabid interest for “Star Wars” is good news for Hollywood’s 2015. No so much for its 2014.

When the season sputters to a close on Monday, the summer box office — regardless of whatever is added to the coffers by weekend front-runner “Guardians” — will be about 15 percent down from last year’s summer, making it Hollywood’s worst summer in at least seven years.

Why did this summer fail to ignite at the box office? Here are five take-aways:

— THE MOVIES SIMPLY WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH: “Maybe we had a lot of titles that looked good on paper,” says Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., whose Adam Sandler comedy “Blended” and largely acclaimed Tom Cruise action flick “Edge of Tomorrow” found lukewarm receptions. “The audience didn’t go for it. We have to do better.” Many in Hollywood will often remind that the movies, after all, are ultimately a content-driven business. The self-mocking “Guardians,” starring Chris Pratt, and the operatic apocalyptic tale “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” won the most cheers from moviegoers and critics alike. But many of the summer’s top releases, like the Melissa McCarthy road trip “Tammy” and the flopping neo-noir sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” simply weren’t up to snuff. One likely best picture-nominee did emerge over the summer, though: Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” a unique coming-of-age film made over 12 years.

— SEQUELS DIDN’T POP: Make no mistake about it: Sequels still rule the summer. Of the top 10 films at the box office, how many do you think were original? Zero. The most popular original movie — not a sequel, reboot or adaptation of a well-known property — was the Seth Rogen comedy “Neighbors,” in 11th place. But many sequels also showed growing audience fatigue. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” performed worse than all four previous “Spider-Man” movies. DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” also didn’t rally the box office like it was expected to, and Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables 3” signaled the end of an already elderly franchise. Sequels are expected to stomp through the summer, but this year none surpassed $250 million domestically.

— THE CENTER IS SHIFTING: Two of the top movies of the year (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “The LEGO Movie”) were released in spring, usually the homely sidekick to summer’s dashing hero. And the summer’s biggest hit, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” wasn’t released until the dog days of August. “The studios are starting to realize: Let’s take advantage of the soft spots in the calendar,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. Not only that, they’re also increasingly focusing overseas. “Transformers” was launched not in North America but in China, where it was also partially shot. And it was rewarded for it: The film made more money in China than in North America. Even the summer’s cult hit, the futuristic allegory “Snowpiercer,” was a distinctly international production made in South Korea and largely seen not in theaters but on video-on-demand.

— FEWER MOVIES: The summer was missing a few of its expected tentpoles that by themselves could have moved the needle on the overall box office. Following Paul Walker’s death, “Fast & Furious 7” was postponed until next year. Pixar didn’t have its usual summer entry. But overall, the studios are largely pulling back on their output, concentrating resources on fewer but bigger films. This has meant slightly less competition in the summer and more carefully guarded profit margins. The summer may have been down at the movies, but the studios had fewer high-profile bombs than they did last year, a record-setting but volatile summer. (Remember “Lone Ranger”?) Instead, the studios downshifted for more dependable results. Budgets may look fine in Hollywood, but they don’t look as good for theater owners.

— GET ‘EM NEXT YEAR: “It’ll happen next year,” says Universal distribution head Nikki Rocco. “The business is cyclical.” The hope is that the constant ebb and flow of the movie business will next year tilt back toward buffo box office. The year boasts arguably the two most lucrative franchises in movies: “Star Wars” and “Avengers.” When “Avengers: Age of Ultron” kicks off on May 1, nothing less than record-breaking will be expected. The first “Avengers” film in 2012 was the highest grossing summer movie ever. It won’t be until December that “Episode VII” hits theaters, but nothing proves more than “Star Wars” — a series in which the last three films are almost universally derided — that franchise fervor springs eternal.

———

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jake—coyle

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like