Hits and Flops: Analyzing the Box Office Trends of 2013

A Summer of Flops

While this year did have its usual fair share of hits, 2013 also saw a rather alarming number of massive box office flops – particularly during the summer months. The major successes of Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Monsters University, and Despicable Me 2 were balanced out by underperforming movies like After Earth, White House Down, Lone Ranger and R.I.P.D. among others. It seemed as if every other week there were reports surfacing about another box office bomb. Every weekend this summer was extremely competitive and with so many options (usually vying for a similar audience) not all of them could be financially successful. Even Pacific Rim, which made $101.8 million domestically, was labeled as a disappointment because it did not meet studio expectations.

This year seemed to make a statement on the downfalls of an overcrowded marketplace. As we mentioned at the top of this article, 669 movies came out, and even for those of us who make a living writing about movies, there’s just not enough time to check all of them out. The summer movie season used to be memorable for launching true event films like Jaws, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park – but recently Hollywood has moved away from that. Yes, a movie like The Avengers or The Dark Knight can captivate a wide audience and play throughout the summer, but far too many summer releases are getting lumped into the “generic blockbuster” category in an already overcrowded marketplace.

Audiences have shown that you don’t even need a superhero to have a successful tentpole. Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, and World War Z all made a lot of money during their theatrical runs this summer - proving that viewers are still interested in sci-fi, action, and fantasy films. What many of this year’s blockbusters had in common was a positive critical reception, meaning moviegoers seemed to heed the advice of reviewers to determine which of the numerous blockbusters options were actually worth their time (and dollars). The ones that were poorly received failed to make an impact while those that won a solid response and positive word of mouth became profitable for the studios. Perhaps this will influence studio executives to be more cautious with their money and not only space these releases apart, but hesitate on giving some of them a green light.


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