The Struggle of the 2017 Summer Box Office

In no way does this satisfy me to make this article. Ever since I was a kid I have been going to the movie theater on a constant basis. It is one of my favorite outlets and I could never see my life without it. But as of late, things have not been looking too good for the movie theater industry and in some ways, Hollywood as a whole has not been looking too hot either. 



Box office earnings for this summer are at an all time low and it way too late to turn anything around. With numerous under preforming films over the past few months, it has put Hollywood in a very sticky situation. But what caused this? What struck a chord with the general audience for them to stay home instead of heading to the movie theaters this summer? While these questions seem complicated, the answer is a lot more simple than you think.

What Movies Under Preformed?

The word under preform does not even describe how badly some of these movies straight up fell on their faces at the box office this summer. To start off, we had King Arthur: Legend of the Sword the movie that everyone asked for! King Arthur released in mid-May and in total grossed a measly $145 million worldwide. For some weird reason, Warner Bros. (Who distributed the film ) gave this movie a $175 million dollar production budget. On top of that, you always want to multiply a production budget by 2 as the production budget you see does not include merchandising, advertising and payment of the actors/actresses. So, with a production budget of $350 million and a return of $145 million King Arthur went down as the Summers first bomb, with many more to come.

Promo Poster for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Promo Poster for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Later that month was Alien: Covenant which had a $97 million budget and went on to only gross $74 million in the US and $232 million worldwide. While it looks like 20th Century Fox made a small return, it was not the return they were expecting.

Throughout the rest of the summer there would be more disappointments such as Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Baywatch, The Mummy, Cars 3, War for the Planet of the Apes, Valerian and The Dark Tower.

But no movie stung worse than the under performance of Transformers: The Last Knight. The Transformers franchise has always been pandered for the quality of their films. But the reason Paramount continued with the franchise was simply because it made money. The most recent Transformers flick before The Last Knight, Age of Extinction went on to gross over $1 billion dollars worldwide. No matter the quality of the films it seemed the franchise would always be a box office powerhouse. That was until The Last Knight arrived. With a $217 million budget and only grossing $600 million worldwide and only $130 million of that coming from the US, it looks like the general audience has caught on and that now leaves a once box office powerhouse franchise in the dust. This not only hurt companies such as Regal and AMC, but this was a severe sting to Paramount who has struggled to must out a hit for some time now. 

How Badly Does This Hurt Movie Theaters?

It hurts them just as bad as you think. If nobody is seeing movies, they are not making money. 

Lets take Regal Cinemas, one of the largest theater chains in America. Currently as of the writing of this article they are currently at only $15.49 a share on the stock market. That is absolutely abysmal. While that is up from $14.37 a share last week, it is no where near the above $25.00 a share that they should be at around this time of the year.

The same goes for movie theater giant AMC who has been hit just as hard. They are currently at a very low $14.15 a share which is even worse than what Regal was at last week. To make matters worse, at this point last year AMC was at a much better $30.30 a share. With August not able to produce any box office hits, this had made it a very bad month for both AMC and Regal.

What Caused This?

The short and simple answer is If you are somehow not familiar with this website, what Rotten Tomatoes does is it puts together every movie critic review for a film and forms a total consensuses of what the critics said about it. The reviews are classified as "fresh" if they liked it and "rotten" if they did not. Then those reviews are combined and the movie is given a score, just like a test grade.

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant

While this website has been around for some time now, it has been in the past year or so that it has exploded in popularity. The general audience will now go on rotten tomatoes to see if the newest movie out is worth the price of admission or not. While this format sounds great for the general consumer, it is now a make or break for a movie studio. 

So lets take all the movies that I claimed under preformed earlier and check their rotten tomatoes score. 

  • War for the Planet of the Apes - 93%
  • Alien: Covenant - 71%
  • Cars 3 - 68%
  • Valerian - 51%
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - 29%
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - 28%
  • Baywatch - 19%
  • The Mummy - 16%
  • The Dark Tower - 16%
  • Transformers: The Last Knight - 15%

The only movie on that list that remains a mystery as to why it under preformed is Apes, but that is a topic for another day. But as you can see, these movies are not preforming well with the critics, therefore they are not gonna fare well with audiences anymore. The era of a movie studio slapping a random blockbuster with amazing SFX in the middle of summer and having flocks of people run up and pay full price to see it is now over. The general audience is more careful now thanks to Rotten Tomatoes and word of mouth. 

But of course you can not hide the fact that streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are also another major reason as to why the general audience is holding back on movies. Why go see a movie that you have already seen is disliked by the critics when you can just stay home and have a huge assortment of choices from TV and film without even leaving your house?

What Can Turn This Around?

The answer here is actually quite simple, make your movies good and make them movies that people want to see. Nobody wants to see a King Arthur movie, so do not give it a $175 million budget. Nobody wanted a Mummy reboot, nobody wanted a fifth Transformers, nobody wanted a fifth Pirates film and surely nobody wanted a Cars 3.

Artwork for Transformers: The Last Knight

Artwork for Transformers: The Last Knight

But not all was grim at the box office this summer. We had HUGE successes like Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Despicable Me 3, Girls Trip and Dunkirk. 

All of these movies blew the competition out of the water. Wonder Woman grossed $400+ in the United States ALONE. Guardians was not far behind with $389 million, Spider-Man swung in with about $315 million, Despicable Me 3 while not outperforming its predecessors still wound up with a great $250 million, Girls Trip grossed over $100 million and finally Dunkirk with over $160 million and counting.

So what made these movies huge box office successes? Well, they were movies people wanted. They were either from beloved franchises, high-praised directors or they were original ideas that were actually very intriguing.

On top of that, they had great Rotten Tomatoes scores.

  • Dunkirk - 93%
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming - 92%
  • Wonder Woman - 92%
  • Girls Trip - 88%
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol.2 - 82%
  • Despicable Me 3 - 61%

Out of all those movies mentioned, I saw 5 out of the 6 of them, Girls Trip being the one out. I saw them because they were films that I heard lived up to their true quality and they were simply movies that I and many other people would die to see. The first live-action Wonder Woman film? Hell yes. The second Spider-Man reboot that ended up being the best Spider-Man film yet? Of course. Guardians 2, Despicable Me 3 and Dunkirk? Yes, Yes and YES. I can also guarantee that more of the movies that I just listed intrigue you a lot more than any of the films that were listed that under preformed.

So yes, it is that simple Hollywood, make what the audiences want, not what you want.

What Does The Future Hold?

Thankfully, in my opinion, the future does indeed look very bright for the rest of the year. This weekend we are getting the highly anticipated IT, which is tracking to rack in over $50-$70 million this weekend. Looking forward we have highly anticipated films such as Kingsman 2, Jigsaw, Thor: Ragnarok, Daddy's Home 2, Justice League, Coco and a little movie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. 

Image of Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok 

Image of Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok 

Looking even further forward to next year we will see huge releases such as Deadpool 2, the Han Solo film, The Incredibles 2, Fantastic Beasts 2, Black Panther, Jurassic World 2, Ant-Man 2, Aquaman, Mission Impossible 6, Pacific Rim 2, and the ever so highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War.

The only thing that can really hold back any of those films is a lack of quality, but as long as these films stay true to their predecessors and remain just as great, I honestly can really see Hollywood getting back on its feet in 2018.