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Summer box office falls flat

In the 1940’s, American bombers would drop aerial explosives onto city blocks, practically eradicating the entire area. Whenever the bomb would do its job and hit, they would call it a “blockbuster”. The words “hit” and “blockbuster” became synonymous.

So, on June 20, 1975, when Steven Spielberg released the classic film, Jaws, and it grossed over $480 million at the box office and made back the budget it took to make the film in two weeks, Jaws was dubbed the first blockbuster, being that it was an instant hit. After this, major production companies began working their schedules for a similar release of large budget films in the summer, particularly around the July 4th week.

In the summer of 2013, blockbuster films, for the whole of summer, generated about $4.6 billion, including the $406 million Iron Man 3 generated domestically.This past summer, blockbuster films only generated around $3.9 billion. Now, the difference between 4.6 and 3.9 may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that the lowest summer box office intake of the past decade was 3.4 in 2005? That’s a lot. Also consider that it’s fairly normal for the highest grossing film of the summer to come somewhere in July and break $300 million domestically. The highest grossing film of the summer (and, currently, the year) is Guardians of the Galaxy, which opened August 1st and is currently sitting at $280.5 million domestically. Also, whatever happened to a big July 4th week opening? The two movies that were released on July 2nd were Tammy ($83 million domestically) and Earth to Echo ($38 million domestically).

What happened? Why didn’t Americans go to the movies this summer? Many sources say, and I personally agree, that many movies just don’t draw appeal or look particularly entertaining. Yet, everyone you ask has seen at least one of the top five grossing movies of the summer. I suppose maybe it’s how much it costs at the theater. But if you really wanted to see a film, the cost doesn’t matter. Ticket sales this summer were down 15% from the previous summer. Why? Well, one particular reason we can find is the growth in the Netflix, Redbox and On Demand markets.

What it gets down to is this: the summer blockbuster was an oversaturated market this season. Too many things to see with so little interest, so the final earnings ended up being weak. We can hope for a brighter fall and winter, being that our upcoming Oscar bids look incredibly promising. While summer is supposed to be the highest earning season for film, why not this summer? It just wasn’t. I have high hopes for next summer, since we open the season with the much anticipated Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. But only time will tell. Until then, let’s all go see Guardians a third time.

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