People just haven’t been going to the movies this summer—at least, that’s what the numbers are telling us. According to comScore (via THR), both box office revenue and ticket sales declined this summer, hitting record lows.
Revenue is down nearly 16 percent this year, lower than the 14.6 decline in 2014. As the summer of 2017 wraps up, it will end up as the first summer since 2006 to not make $4 billion in the box office. Additionally, ticket sales have reached a 25-year low.
The fear of franchise fatigue is stronger than ever, with some select sequels, reboots and adaptations faltering critically and financially. THR specifically cites The Mummy, Transformers: The Last Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales as primary offenders.
It seems that the only thing keeping movies like Pirates afloat (heh) is the international box office; the three previously mentioned franchise titles performed well enough overseas to make up for their low performances in the U.S. Hollywood has been aware of the importance of the international market for quite sometime; franchises blockbusters, particularly the Transformers movies, are largely watched in China, and products that resulted from this awareness include the Chinese-American co-production The Great Wall.
But it turns out that it isn’t just action sequels and the like that audiences are finding stale—multiple star-studded R-rated comedies also failed to make an impact, including Baywatch, The House and Rough Night. Like those faltering blockbuster action movies, these comedies were also critically lambasted by critics and audiences. And critical reaction and box office returns appear to be more of a causation than correlation, with well-received comedy Girls Trip actually succeeding financially.
Other successful exceptions include multiple superhero films, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming unsurprisingly making bank (as good comic book movies usually do). Tie them together with the success of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and it’s easy to make the argument at Hollywood that audiences simply want better movies.
With Labor Day approaching, Box Office Mojo reported on a “miserable weekend,” with an unremarkable The Hitman’s Bodyguard leading the pack of box office disappointments for the second week in a row. We could blame external factors such as the craze behind the Mayweather/McGregor fight, or perhaps the natural disaster in the form of Hurricane Harvey—but if Hollywood wants to get butts in seats, they should consider making movies that people actually want to see.