Hollywood slump haunts box office sales

Witches, dragons and even superheroes can\'t seem to help the box office this summer. (AP Images)
'Not every year can be record-breaking'

Alicia Lozano | November 15, 2014 11:30 am

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WASHINGTON — Witches, dragons, even superheroes can’t seem to help the box office this summer, as ticket sales are down 20 percent compared to this time last year.

So what gives?

Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst for BoxOffice.com, says a few factors are contributing to the slump.

“Fourth of July fell on a Friday, and nobody wants to open a new movie on the Fourth of July if it’s on a Friday,” he says.

“The second thing is that the other studios didn’t want to sandwich another big, blockbuster movie in between ‘Transformers’ … and ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ which is posed to do quite well.”

Analysts say July 4, one of Hollywood’s biggest weekends, was the worst in at least a decade.

In previous years, summer blockbusters have grossed up to $300 million. But this year, only “Transformers: Age of Extinction” has surpassed $100 million on opening weekend.

“The first half of the year was extremely strong, as was last year,” Dan Fellman, domestic distribution head for Warner Bros., tells The Associated Press.

“Then all of a sudden, it turned the other way.”

Since May, Hollywood has ranked in $2.25 billion, 19 percent less than last summer. Of course, 2013 was a record year, with blockbusters such as “Iron Man 3″ and “Despicable Me 2″ piggybacking off each other.

“Not every year can be record-breaking,” Contrino says. “The box office is only as good as the content is.”

With big-budget releases such as “Malificent” and “X Men: Days of Future Past,” Hollywood seemed poised to top their high, not create a new low.

Despite studios’ best intentions, movie-goers expressed disappointment in this year’s offerings.

“Put out something worth spending upwards of $15 per ticket (not to mention the arm and leg for concessions) and maybe, just maybe I would consider spending the money,” Jennifer Peer Diaz writes on Facebook.

“Movie prices are up and it’s easier to download now. I think they also act like 3D is something people want. I only pick it when the standard version is not offered at a convenient time,” Kevin Cole adds on Facebook.

As a way to entice moviegoers, AMC Entertainment is spending $600 million to add leather recliners to 1,800 theaters throughout the country. Attendance in renovated AMC theaters has jumped 80 percent and 60 percent at theaters that have been completely reseated, Wall Street Journal reports.

Contrino predicts Hollywood will rebound next year despite the current slump. Big titles announced for 2015 include “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Jurassic World,” “Terminator: Genesis” and “Despicable Me Minions.”

Here is a breakdown of how this summer’s blockblusters are performing:

  • “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” ($227 million)
  • “Maleficent” ($215 million)
  • “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ ($201 million)
  • “Godzilla” ($198 million)
  • “Neighbors” ($148 million)
  • “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ ($142 million)
  • “Rio 2″ ($142 million)

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