Hollywood Suffers Worst Box-Office Weekend In Years

Hollywood has suffered its worst summer for at least 22 years with a succession of “half-baked sequels and remakes”. The Labor Day holiday weekend in the US was the first for decades that the major studios did not release a new film.

And it showed in ticket sales: cinema attendances were down 45 per cent for the long weekend compared to the same time last year.

NPR’s Neda Ulaby reports even hits like “Wonder Woman” and the latest “Guardians Of The Galaxy” could not save a summer of flops.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE:

To be clear, we’ve seen some terrific movies this summer. Still, films like “Girls Trip,” “Baby Driver” and “The Big Sick” are not exactly tent poles.

ULABY:

Even the epic World War II drama “Dunkirk,” already getting buzz for best picture, was not enough to rescue a box office down 16 percent over last summer.

Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations, an entertainment research firm, told :

Please, we are begging you, give us something more than soulless, half-baked sequels and remakes that are made by committee and primarily designed to sell merchandise.

Overall between May to September ticket sales were less than $3.8 billion in total — a 16 per cent decline from last year — according to data from ComScore. It was the first time since 2006 that the industry had not broken the $4 billion mark.

You have to go back to 1995 to find a slower summer, when Apollo 13 and Pocahontas were the big hits. The box office that year registerd around $3.76 billion in ticket sales, accounting for inflation.

The fifth installments of the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers movies tanked in the US — although they both performed strongly elsewhere in the world.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Baywatch, The Dark Tower, The Mummy and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets also failed to register big ticket sales in the US.

The trend for superhero hits shows no sign of dropping off, however. The top three films this summer were Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told MarketWatch last week:

To show you how dead the box office really is, ‘Wonder Woman’ is expanding and they’re rereleasing ‘Baby Driver.’ Two films from June are coming back to take advantage of the lull. If that’s not telling, then I don’t know what is.

No one can fully explain why. Studio executives, movie theater operators and analysts cited the usual explanations for the summer slump. There are the obvious reasons: Too many bad movies, including sequels, reboots and aging franchises that no one wanted to see. Some point to rising ticket prices, which hit a record high in the second quarter, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners. Then there are long-term challenges, including competition from streaming services such as Netflix and the influence of the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes.