Personally, I had a great time at the movies this summer. Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla” bucked the trend of prematurely blowing its action/monster/explosion load. I enjoyed “Edge of Tomorrow’s” original concept and snappy script. And it was great to see Marvel inject its cookie-cutter formula with a little personality for “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Nothing disappointed me on the scale of last year’s “Man of Steel” or “Stark Trek Into Darkness.”
And I’m not alone. According to Entertainment Weekly, critics preferred this summer’s crop, and audiences only marginally preferred last summer’s. Sure, 2014 didn’t have any Dark Knights or Avengers, but that didn’t stop last year’s record number of moviegoers.
Still, the summer box office suffered tremendously. Why, after a summer of good movies, did The LA Times report that domestic ticket sales were down 15%? Actually, 2014 was the worst summer since 2006…1997 if you consider inflation.
So what gives?
At a quick glance, the season was pretty overcrowded. Between the beginning of May and the end of August, theaters saw ten major releases plus five high-profile projects with comparatively modest budgets*.
That’s a lot of movies…particularly in May and June. Of those ten major releases, seven were out by July. Not the greatest scheduling. But the good news is that 2014 marked a shift in the release dates for tentpole productions. Outside “Guardians,” the year’s biggest hits — “The Lego Movie” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — came out in February and April, which isn’t typically when films of that size hit theaters.
Studios are learning from this summer’s shellacking. Rather than go up against the third Captain America in May 2016, Warner Brothers recently announced “Batman v Superman” would move to March. Legendary also declared plans to release a sequel to “Pacific Rim” in April 2017.
While overcrowding might be responsible for lower box office receipts, I don’t think it accounts for such a steep decline. Something should have been sucking up the dollars. What say you, loyal readers? Did you find yourself going to the movies more or less often this summer? Why or why not? Comment below.
*Here are the ten big-budget (i.e. comfortably north of $100 million) releases with five additional high-profile projects that had comparatively modest price tags:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
X-Men: Days of Future Past
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Edge of Tomorrow
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Transformers: Age of Extinction
The Fault in our Stars
22 Jump Street
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles