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Any hope of The flash the recovery from its disastrous June 16-18 opening was halted when the Warner Bros. and DC tentpole disappeared off a cliff in its second weekend. It plunged 72.5%, the second-worst drop ever for a Hollywood superhero film at the domestic box office behind Morbiowhich dropped 73.8 percent in its second outing last year.
Warners insiders didn’t even try to gloss over the situation, saying the film was being rejected by viewers on a wholesale basis (the studio had forecast a 50 to 55 percent drop). going in the summer, The flash it was expected to be a sizable performer at the box office (think well north of $500 million or $600 million globally). Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav went so far as to say in April that the film was the best superhero film he has ever seen, raising expectations.
The film wasn’t the only major shortcoming at the end of June. Animated photo Elementarywhich he threw in front The flash over the weekend of June 16-18, it opened to $29.6 million, the lowest debut in Pixar history after adjusting for inflation. (Unlike The flash, Elementary has a chance to catch up.)
The midsummer turmoil means revenue for the season may not reach pre-pandemic levels of $4 billion as expected. It also puts further pressure on a July Hollywood studio tentacle parade to perform, starting with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny during the 4th of July holiday and followed by Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, part one on July 12 and Oppenheimer AND Barbie on July 21st.
“This summer is a stress test,” says a senior studio executive, who adds that 15% of moviegoers still haven’t returned to theaters since the pandemic due to a surge in streamers and financial worries. And that percentage is even higher for some genres, such as family films or films aimed at older viewers. The hope is that this summer will narrow that gap as Hollywood tries to win back those who are still absent.
“Nothing says ‘normal’ like the stomach churning ups and downs of a dynamic summer movie season,” says Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst at Comscore. “Despite the solid pedigree of many of the upcoming films, predicting the final outcome of the summer movie season is as baffling and confusing as any in recent memory.”
It wasn’t so confusing at first. Summer is off to a great start with Marvel and Disney Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which grossed over $832 million at the global box office, but things quickly got complicated. By Universal Fast X, which debuted in the second half of May, earned $144.8 million domestically, the franchise’s worst finish in years, but thrived overseas to gross a respectable $711 million worldwide. The opposite was true for Disney’s live-action The little Mermaid. The film has earned $273.2 million to date in North America, the third best showing of the summer season so far behind Guardians 3 ($352.2 million) and Sony’s success Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($323.2 million). Mermaid, however, failed overseas, in part due to a racist backlash over the casting of a black actress like Ariel. The film’s current foreign tally is $229.8 million (it’s not uncommon for Hollywood event stocks to earn far more offshore).
After Guardianswhich opened on the heels of the spring blockbuster The Super Mario Bros. Movie, analysts began forecasting that summer home revenue could hit $4 billion for the first time since the pandemic and come not far behind $4.34 billion in the summer of 2019. Those forecasts stalled for the moment. Revenue for the summer to date (May 1-June 2) is just 1.8% up on last year and down 14.9% on 2019, according to Comscore.
Hollywood studio executives, along with analysts, note that the box office is always in an uproar and that no one is in panic mode — yet.
“You’ve always had overperforming and underperforming stocks, but The flash it’s so visible,” says a Hollywood studio executive. “We are sensitive right now and hypervigilant. That said, if Indiana Jones it’s making less than $50 million this weekend, so I think maybe we have a problem. I have it in the over $60 million range.
It remains to be seen if Indiana Jones series may appeal to a new generation of fans, including young adults, who have buoyed the box office overall since the pandemic. Disney and Lucasfilm have gone to great lengths to promote Quadrant of Destiny, including the film’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where 80-year-old star Harrison Ford was honored. The franchise was a box office hit throughout the 1980s before taking a long hiatus. It revived in 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skullwho teamed up with Ford with Shia LeBeouf. Crystal Skull it opened to $100 million domestically on its way to earning $790 million globally.
Times have changed. Quadrant of Destiny he’s eyeing a more modest domestic opening of around $65 million. A big challenge will be getting older adults – your target audience – to take a trip to the movies.
Wall Street analyst Eric Handler is of the opinion that Tentacles continue to perform well, minus the regular amount of bugs, but that mid-level movies are still a problem since they can probably be viewed at home. “You cannot reply Guardians OR Avatars Inside the house. But take a movie like The car OR About my fatheror also Without hard feelings and perspectives change. I think people are more selective,” she says.
Handler also believes the writers’ strike is hurting the box office since there are no late-night talk shows, which have long been used to promote movies. “Take a movie like Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, where the robots are voiced by stars including Anthony Ramos and Pete Davidson. They have great appeal and could have been on late night shows,” Handler says. Studio marketers agree.
Most are waiting Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part 1 and Greta Gerwig Barbie earning huge picks at the July box office. by Christopher Nolan Oppenheimer, an adult drama, may have a slower structure. And while Insidious: The Red Door doesn’t qualify as a tentpole, it’s another July offering to keep an eye out for.
Mission it’s looking to launch a better franchise of $65 million or more in North America. Next weekend, Barbie it could open for $70 million to $80 million, according to tracking. Oppenheimer is seeking a $40 million domestic opening. For the most part, this summer was remarkable with no more than $100 million openings.
On Thursday, Mission star Tom Cruise has personally appealed to these fans to see Indy rival films, Barbie AND Oppenheimer in addition to his new photo. Cruise has become something of an ambassador for cinema. Last summer, at Cruise’s Top Gun: nonconformist it was a defining moment for the box office recovery in conquering all demos, including older adults. Steven Spielberg even credited Cruise and the Top Gun sequel with saving “Hollywood’s ass.”
“This summer is full of great movies to see in theaters,” Cruise wrote in an Instagram post that showed him standing with his Showdown writer-director Christopher McQuarrie in front of posters of Indy 5. “These are just a few we can’t wait to see on the big screen.”
Not everyone is optimistic. One source sums it up this way: “There’s a lot of pressure in the second half of the summer.” And another insider is now concerned that summer home revenue may be less than last year’s $3.4 billion. “This,” says the source, “wouldn’t fit.”