Thanks to disappointing debuts from a couple of high profile films this month, the summer box office is already down 10 percent from a year ago. Summertime is traditionally one of the most lucrative times of the year at the movie box office, as studios start to roll out films in May to entice audiences into theaters as the weather gets nicer and schools start to empty out for a few months. It's a time when studios generally release big budget popcorn flicks with lots of action, adventure and thrills, hoping somehow that they'll catch on with audiences to become the next big blockbuster.
And while every film release comes with a degree of risk, summer movies most often come with some sort of franchise tag or stars with enough power to attract audiences by name recognition alone. Most times the formula works, but in some cases, it misses the mark. Citing statistics from comScore, THR says that only three weeks into May, the summer movie box office is already down 10 percent from 2016 and 20 percent from 2015. This comes despite an impressive kickoff to the summer movie season the first weekend of May with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which scored an impressive $145 million three-day domestic opening.
And while Vol. 2 in its next two weekends has earned enough to push it past the $300 million mark, the summer's next major release, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, bombed with a $15.4 million opening and took in only $6.8 million in its second weekend for a running total of $27.2 million (against a $175 million budget before marketing). Making matters worse, Alien: Covenant fell short of projections this past weekend, pulling in only $36 million.
Despite the early summer slump, Paul Dergarabedian with comScore tells THR that the sky isn't falling in Hollywood just yet – especially considering that June and July are loaded with high profile releases. He says:
"I agree it would be naive to think that the box office this summer will be all butterflies and moonbeams, because there will certainly be casualties and underperformers as we have already seen in three short weeks. But let's actually get into June and beyond and see where we are at that point. We could all be singing a different tune if movies like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Despicable Me 3, Cars 3 or Baby Driver connect with audiences in a big way."
Still, Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations notes, this coming weekend's big releases really need to make an impact, though, to start righting the ship. He says:
"I think whether or not we turn things around is extremely dependent on Memorial Day weekend. Last year was a pretty big disappointment with Alice Through the Looking Glass and X-Men: Apocalypse. Hopefully, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch will perform stronger this time around."
Judging the track records of the two titles, the box office will likely rise to the level it enjoyed in 2016 after this weekend. After all, the first four Pirates movies earned nearly $3.7 billion at the box office and No. 5 is off to a smooth start with positive early reviews. As for Baywatch's prospects, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is one of the biggest draws at the global box office right now, and hot off the worldwide billion-dollar success of The Fate of the Furious, it would be a shock if the movie didn't do anything but blockbuster business.