The summer movie season has been rougher than expected, as even proven franchises are under-performing and original hits are nearly unheard of this year. In spite of the usual predictions of another record year, studios were hopeful that the summer season would serve as a much needed stabilizing force after a tough winter and spring, but no such luck.
Domestic revenue so far is down an estimated 9.4% year over year, while ticket sales for the summer season are down 7.3% following a bad case of franchise fatigue infecting titles such as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Men in Black: International and The Secret Life of Pets 2.
The only exception when discussing the movie business downturn is the House of Mouse’s Disney empire. The studio, which now owns Fox, currently commands 40% of domestic market share. That unprecedented dominance could only grow in the with the release of The Lion King(due out July 19) and the continued run of Toy Story 4.
The studio is also banking on guaranteed hits such as the final chapter of the Star Wars sage, and yet John Nolte of Breitbart News wrote recently:
Kathleen Kennedy, the leader behind these (Star Wars) reboots, has so alienated the fan base with her obnoxious politics, Skywalker could easily disappoint. It won’t flop. There’s no chance of that. But what should be an Avengers type of event, the final chapter of the 40 year Skywalker saga… Well, let’s just say there are a lot of angry fan boys out there ready to send a message by staying home.
Either way, what happens to Star Wars afterward with the Skywalker saga over, with no more Han, Luke, or Leia to lean on? Can a franchise driven by social justice politics as opposed to a sense of wonder and adventure survive?
Solo bombing at the box office is the most significant event to hit the movie business in decades. The surest thing in the history of sure things is no longer a sure thing.
This is part of a larger piece with Nolte discussing how poorly the year’s box office results have been, and lamenting that Disney seems to be the only studio with any legitimate success this year so far.
After a disastrous first quarter collapse of 16 percent, the second quarter’s 3.8 percent decline might come as a relief, but it was not supposed to be this way.
What’s more, only to one studio, Disney, is responsible for all five of the top five blockbusters of the second quarter: Avengers: Endgame $853 million), Captain Marvel($427 million), Toy Story 4 ($354 million), Spider-Man: Far From Home ($294 million), and Aladdin ($334 million).
After that, the closest competition is the horror film Us, which grossed $175 million, or more than a $100 million less than the lowest grossing Disney title listed above, which is Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is still in theatres making good money.
To put things in an even starker perspective, thus far, this year Disney has grossed $2.48 billion at the domestic box office. Its closest competition is Warner Bros. at $894 million.
In worse news, fewer people are going to the movies — 2.5 percent fewer in the second quarter, which is better than 15 percent attendance drop during quarter one.
Overall, combining both quarters, the domestic box office is down 9.1 percent compared to last year, down one percent compared to 2017, down two percent compared to 2017, and less than a half percent ahead of 2015.
Yep, things are bad.
Nolte goes on to list what he believes are the locked-in blockbusters still to come for 2019; Lion King, It: Chapter 2, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Frozen 2, Jumanji: The Next Level, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Although he is quick to point out that four of those six are all Disney productions. He went on to mention a few possible blockbusters in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Terminator: Dark Fate, Joker, and Ad Astra, depending on how audiences react to them.
Whether it’s the rising prominence of streaming services that are making movie lovers stay home, or the cost of going to the movies is still a mystery. The average cost of a movie ticket rose to $9.26 in the second quarter of 2019, up from $9.01 during the first three months of the year, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Could it be simply that Hollywood isn’t coming up with any fresh, compelling, new ideas?