Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/31/2014 12:29 AM

5 takeaways from a lackluster summer box office

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • From left, Zoe Saldana, the character Rocket Racoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, the character Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista in a scene from "Guardians Of The Galaxy." "Guardians of the Galaxy" became the summer's top-grossing movie at the box office with a $17.6 million weekend that narrowly bested the young adult melodrama "If I Stay."

      From left, Zoe Saldana, the character Rocket Racoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, the character Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista in a scene from "Guardians Of The Galaxy." "Guardians of the Galaxy" became the summer's top-grossing movie at the box office with a $17.6 million weekend that narrowly bested the young adult melodrama "If I Stay."
    Associated Press/Disney-Marvel

  • Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise star in "Edge of Tomorrow." And while there were high hopes for this Cruise action flick, they didn't translate to box office numbers.

      Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise star in "Edge of Tomorrow." And while there were high hopes for this Cruise action flick, they didn't translate to box office numbers.
    Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures

  • Ellar Coltrane stars in Richard Linklater's drama "Boyhood." The somewhat experimental film was one of the few bright spots for Hollywood this year.

      Ellar Coltrane stars in Richard Linklater's drama "Boyhood." The somewhat experimental film was one of the few bright spots for Hollywood this year.
    Associated Press

  • Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy star in "Tammy," which wasn't a flop but didn't do nearly the box office business that McCarthy's other hits "The Heat" and "Bridesmaids" did.

      Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy star in "Tammy," which wasn't a flop but didn't do nearly the box office business that McCarthy's other hits "The Heat" and "Bridesmaids" did.
    Associated Press

  • Nicola Peltz and Mark Wahlberg in a scene from "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which is the only film to rake in $1 billion at the box office this year.

      Nicola Peltz and Mark Wahlberg in a scene from "Transformers: Age of Extinction," which is the only film to rake in $1 billion at the box office this year.
    Associated Press/ Paramount Pictures

  • "The Lego Movie" one of the top movies this year was launched in spring, not summer.

      "The Lego Movie" one of the top movies this year was launched in spring, not summer.
    Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures

  • Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson star in the super hero thriller "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which had solid numbers at the box office, was one of the few sequels that brought in audiences.

      Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson star in the super hero thriller "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which had solid numbers at the box office, was one of the few sequels that brought in audiences.
    Associated Press/Disney-Marvel

 
By JAKE COYLE
Associated Press

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.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

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.

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 Sony 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.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here