Monday 20 November 2017

Box-office flops leave cinemas reeling after horror summer

Baywatch flopped at the box office this summer
Baywatch flopped at the box office this summer

Barney Henderson New York

Hollywood has suffered its worst summer for at least 22 years with a succession of "half-baked sequels and remakes".

The Labour Day holiday in the US - which was on Monday just gone - was the first for decades that the major studios did not release a new film and it showed in ticket sales. Cinema attendances were down 45pc for the long weekend compared to the same time last year.

"The message from American moviegoers over the summer was not subtle," Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations, an entertainment research firm, told the 'New York Times'.

"Please, we are begging you, give us something more than soulless, half-baked sequels and remakes that are made by committee and primarily designed to sell merchandise."

Overall, between May to September, ticket sales were less than $3.8bn (€3.2bn) in total - a 16pc decline from last year - according to data from ComScore. It was the first time since 2006 that the industry had not broken the $4bn mark. You have to go back to 1995 to find a slower summer, when 'Apollo 13' and 'Pocahontas' were the big hits. The box office that year registered $3.76bn in sales, accounting for inflation.

The summer has been packed with big budget, box-office flops.

The fifth instalments of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and 'Transformers' movies tanked in the US - although they both performed strongly elsewhere in the world.

'King Arthur: Legend of the Sword', 'Baywatch', 'The Dark Tower', 'The Mummy' and 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' also failed to register big ticket sales in the US.

The trend for superhero hits shows no sign of dropping off, however. The top three films this summer in the US were 'Wonder Woman', 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' and 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'.

'Dunkirk' was one of the few successes, with $178.8m in ticket sales in the US.

This summer's slump has coincided with Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Google investing heavily in their film and showbusiness operations.

Ross Gerber, president of Gerber Kawasaki, an investment-management firm, told the 'Washington Post': "It's been a bad summer-movie session. But there is a bigger thing going on here."

He explained major TV events, the growth of online streaming services, the draw of social media and sequel fatigue had contributed to the decline in ticket sales.

The Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor boxing match and 'Game of Thrones' series seven both registered record numbers.

However, Warner Bros has high hopes this weekend's release of Stephen King's 'It' will draw the punters back.

"The good news is we have 'It' this week, and then movies such as 'The Lego Ninjago Movie', 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' and 'Blade Runner 2049' to come," a senior media analyst at researcher ComScore told Bloomberg. "We are going to make up a lot of ground in the next three months."

Irish Independent

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