Summer Box Office Lessons


It's the end of June, and we're nearly two months into the summer season at the Box Office. With just half the summer (and really one month of big time blockbusters) to go, it's a good time to pause and reflect on what we've learned about the movie going public from the summer so far.

And if you're planning a sequel or re-boot, this might not be good news. We've only had a couple hits so far, and plenty more misses. That might end up being the biggest takeaway from the summer of 2017.

Here's a few observations:

* People will still turn out for a well-made movie. You could look at summer's only legitimate hits ("Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" and "Wonder Woman") and simply dismiss it by saying people love superhero movies. They do, that's true, but that's not why these movies hit. Both offered a lot of fun and characters audiences could identify with. "Wonder Woman," in particular, tapped into something missing at the Box Office. That's why these movies have continued to go strong for weeks.

* People are over the TV re-boots. "Baywatch" had all the elements to be a fun summer movie in terms of cast and theme, but it landed with a thud. That same thud followed "CHiPs" in the spring. I think it's a clear sign that people aren't that into seeing recycled ideas brought to the big screen.

* People want originality, not sequels. We've said it for years, but each summer the past five years has featured a seemingly unending stream of sequels. This summer has been particularly loaded, and we've seen each of them set new franchise lows. Whether it be "Alien: Covenant," which was a mild fizzle, or the disasters of "Transformers: The Last Knight" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," audiences have shown they're ready to move on. Even animated films, like "Cars 3," haven't been immune from the sequel rejection.

* If you're going to re-imagine or re-boot a classic tale, you have to do it well. "King Arthur" and "The Mummy" were big summer tent poles that were potentially the start of a future franchise. ("The Mummy," in fact, was meant to launch The Dark Universe for Universal). But they were rejected by audiences, which makes it reasonable to wonder what kind of summer tent poles are in our future.

* Even comedies aren't immune. Both "Snatched" and "Rough Night" were outrageous, female-fronted comedies, that grossly underperformed at the Box Office. And this was despite star power from Amy Schumer and Scarlett Johansson, among others. The sign, even here, is that story and originality matter.

There's still a few more blockbusters lurking, but it's fair to say the Summer of 2017 has fallen short of many studios' expectations.

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