This year's Memorial Weekend total U.S. box office take was the lowest since 1999, with new releases Baywatch and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales both falling below commercial projections, heading into the frame. May 2017 in general hasn't been a great month for Hollywood at the domestic box office, between Warner Bros.' costly King Arthur: Legend of the Sword bombing and 20th Century Fox's Alien: Covenant joining Baywatch and Dead Men Tell No Tales on the list of under-performing summer tentpoles (see also, Covenant's huge Friday-to-Friday box office drop-off).
With the Summer 2017 box office already down from last year, it seems that those box office analysts who have been predicting that the Summer 2017 box office will be the lowest in a decade, may yet prove to be correct. Failing that, 2017 will go down as having the lowest Memorial Weekend domestic box office turnout in almost two decades, going back to when Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace opened atop the U.S. box office.
As reported by Variety, the total 2017 Memorial Weekend U.S. box office take was $172.3 million - the lowest take for the frame since 1999, where the total was $142.5 million. Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at ComScore, commented on the overall middling turnout at the U.S. box office this past month, noting "The pressure is certainly on for the final three quarters of the season to get us out of this downturn.”
However, as noted by Dergarabedian, June is also shaping up to be a more promising month than May, starting with the release of Wonder Woman: a film that has been generating lots of positive buzz, ahead of its debut in U.S. theaters. New installments in the typically-reliable cash cow franchises Despicable Me, Cars and Transformers will be hitting the scene later in June too, further suggesting that the June box office may yet bounce back after May. On top of that, the Tom Cruise-headlined reboot of The Mummy is aiming to perform well enough at the box office to justify Universal's plans to move forward with its monster cinematic universe (now officially dubbed the Dark Universe).
Good word of mouth is also a wild card factor here, as the box office returns for all of the aforementioned franchise releases only stand to benefit from a positive critical and general audience reception. Movies such as Legend of the Sword, Baywatch and Dead Men Tell No Tales were largely dismissed by critics, whereas something like Covenant was mostly well-received critically, but proved somewhat more contentious within the Alien franchise's larger fanbase. Between that and the questionable viability of these movies' "brands" ahead of time, it's not exactly a mystery as to why so many of these May films performed below expectations commercially, in other words.
Even if June fails to improve the outlook for the Summer 2017 domestic box office, there's still the global box office to take into consideration. Indeed, Dead Men Tell No Tales' worldwide box office debut was good enough to keep the film on-course to ultimately break even at the global box office, if nothing else. The fifth Pirates movie won't be the only Summer 2017 release that's heavily dependent on international audiences to turn a profit either, by the look of things.
- Baywatch (2017) release date: May 25, 2017
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) release date: May 26, 2017