Summer box office sinks, but don’t blame big blockbusters
Hollywood is having a soft summer — but don’t blame “Captain America.”
The May release from Disney’s Buena Vista studio and the season’s other tentpole releases are doing just fine, Wall Street analysts said — but the one-off smaller films are falling flat.
Among the losers this summer is “Money Monster,” the George Clooney and Julia Roberts film from Sony’s TriStar, which took in just $14.8 million during its opening weekend.
Weak efforts like that have the 2016 US summer box office at the halfway mark down 5.4 percent from the same period a year ago, according to figures compiled by BoxOfficeMojo.
These non-tentpoles, with more modest budgets that often appeal to more mature audiences, are not living up to studios’ expectations, according to Drexel Hamilton analyst Tony Wible.
Their historical role has been to smooth a studio’s financial performance in between blockbusters. But no more.
The smaller films are failing, in part, because cinema owners, like Cinemark and Regal Entertainment Group, are too obsessed with franchise films like “Finding Dory,” “Independence Day” and “The Conjuring,” Wible said in a note on Thursday.
“Money Monster,” budgeted at $27 million, serves as a sad reminder of this neglect. The Sony flick took had a US box office of $40.8 million as of last weekend.
“It had a great script, good reviews and Hollywood royalty [in Clooney and Roberts],” said a producer close to the project. “But none of that matters anymore.”
Wible blames underperforming non-tentpoles like “Money Monster” for the “entirety” of the 9.5 percent US box office decline in the second quarter.
For the summer season, which stretches this year from May 6 to Sept. 5, the US box office fell to $1.96 billion from $2.07 billion last year.
The summer’s also light on blockbusters. So far, only four qualify with a box office of at least $100 million — “Finding Dory,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Angry Birds Movie.”
Last year at the halfway mark there were six blockbusters.
The healthy tentpole competition isn’t just squeezing non-tentpoles out of cinemas, the producer told The Post. It’s also squeezing out the mature audience that watched them.
The result — for boomers, at least — is the tradition of dinner and a movie is being replaced by dinner out and over-the-top viewing at home.
“We can’t see a movie after sitting through a two-hour meal, because we’re too tired and too drunk,” says the producer, who calls himself a youngish boomer.
The movement toward just dinner, perhaps at a restaurant with a famous chef, and away from dinner-and-a-movie is something Hollywood is calling eatertainment.
“Food channels, cooking shows, celebrity chefs — it’s everywhere,” the producer says of the movie substitute.
“So many of us don’t read movie reviews anymore. We read restaurant reviews and talk about going to some new fusion place.”