Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Office, Boxed, In Summer

2014 was, quite frankly, a great summer for some breakthrough films (Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) but for the industry as a whole, a number of high-profile sequel bombs and World Cup action effectively killed the summer box office.  2014 was the worst summer for tickets since 1997.

The film industry had its worst summer in North America, still the world’s No. 1 movie market, since at least 1997, after adjusting for inflation. Between the first weekend in May through the end of August, ticket sales in the United States and Canada are expected to total roughly $3.9 billion, a 15 percent decline from the same stretch last year, according to Rentrak, a box office data company. 
Analysts in the spring had predicted an 11 percent drop, citing viewing distractions like the World Cup and scuttled release plans for films like “Fast and Furious 6” and Pixar’s “Good Dinosaur,” which both had production problems. But the decline was worse than expected, and the reason, analysts and studio executives said, may have been a nasty case of déjà vu. 
Tom Cruise’s futuristic “Edge of Tomorrow,” for instance, looked like a hit — and that was exactly its problem. The title was too similar to “The Day After Tomorrow,” released in summer 2004. The barren landscape too closely resembled Mr. Cruise’s 2013 film “Oblivion.” Characters walking around in robot exoskeletons? Been there (“Pacific Rim”), done that (“Real Steel”). 
Despite stellar reviews, “Edge of Tomorrow” took in $99.9 million at North American theaters, a major disappointment for Warner Bros., which spent at least $250 million on production and domestic marketing. 
“Hercules,” which arrived seven months after “The Legend of Hercules,” turned out to be a box office weakling. “Sex Tape” was heavily marketed on Cameron Diaz’s legs, but moviegoers shrugged: Sorry, we’ve seen them. “Both ‘Sex Tape’ and ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ failed to stand out among the other R-rated comedies,” said Phil Contrino, the chief analyst at
Sameness sells tickets, no doubt about it. The Top 10 movies of the summer all came from familiar brands (Marvel, DreamWorks Animation), featured familiar characters (“Godzilla”) or turned on familiar stories (the raunchy college comedy). Still, only a few of those films truly popped, Mr. Contrino noted, adding that the ones that did “each gave fans something that was unique, fresh and surprising.”

Or maybe for everything awesome like GotG, there's ten crapass movies like Transformers 4: Optimus Prime On A Dinosaur.  I enjoyed Godzilla for instance, but you could have gone the entire summer and just seen Angelina Jolie with wings and Rocket and Groot kicking ass, and you would have been fine.

On the other hand, ticket sales aren't everything, Lucy was terrible, it still made $115 million. Go figure.

Let me know when November rolls around.  Big Hero 6, Interstellar, Dumb and Dumber To, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and Penguins of Madagascar all look like good times.

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