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Hollywood prepares for the worst summer box office in a decade

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If the latest Hollywood projections are to be believed, this summer’s box office gross will be the worst in over a decade. 

Credit: MyMovieWallpapers.com

A Los Angeles Times article drew attention to the fact that a 5% to 10% drop in box office revenue this year will amount to a decrease of roughly $450 million. This would leave the total box office take at what is a currently estimated $4 billion.

Whilst Hollywood will still make an exorbitant amount of money this summer, a drop of this scale is nothing to be ignored. 

The article claimed that industry insiders blame ‘franchise fatigue’ for the loss and that streaming shows have taken the word-of-mouth excitement from summer releases.

Evidence of this so-called ‘franchise fatigue’ can be seen though the release this summer of: the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, the fifth Transformers film, the second Spider-Man reboot in five years, the sixth movie in the Alien franchise and a reboot of The Mummy. These are films that no one necessarily wanted and appear to be more a case of just doing what worked last time.

However, with X-Men: Apocalypse, Independence Day: Resurgence, and Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass all performing worse than their predecessors last year, there is no guarantee that the rinse and repeat formula will work for Hollywood this summer.

Interestingly though, it is not just the seemingly endless sequels that could be damaging summer box office sales. The last two years have seen a rise in the significance of the holiday box office, after an increase to a $2.8 billion in 2015 and a slight increase on that figure in 2016. This is mainly thanks to the release of both Star Wars Episode VII and Rogue One.

In fact, Star Wars Episode VIII, initially slated for a May 2017 release, was pushed back to December of this year, potentially to better its box office performance. The same could also be said for films such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Moana, that both avoided summer releases last year.

Other films have avoided the summer release with Beauty and the Beast already taking a huge $494 million at the box office and Fate of the Furious raking in $216 million domestically in the US. This has in fact contributed to a 4% increase in Hollywood takings in 2017 compared to this time last year.

It could be a case then of the summer release window simply losing its significance. As Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distributiona at Warner Bros put it, “It is a 12-month calendar, and because there’s so many tent poles, everybody spreads them out."

Not a crisis in Hollywood then. But hopefully this decline in the summer box office will lead to a re-thinking of strategy when it comes to releasing endless sequels from unwanted franchises, and more emphasis will be placed on original movies such as Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, one summer movie that is expected to perform very well this year.

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