Weekend Box Office: Summer 2014 Movie Attendance Was At A 17-Year Low

Hey, is it just me, or have there not been many very good movies this Summer? Guardians of the Galaxy is the only memorable mainstream movie I can think of, but at least there’s good news there: Guardians became the highest-grossing movie of the year (in terms of domestic box office) at $274.6 million, surpassing Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s $259.8 million and Transformers: Age of Extinction’s $244.3 million, and becoming a virtual lock to surpass $300 million domestic. HOORAY, GUARDIANS BEAT TRANS4MERS!

Of course, factoring in worldwide numbers, Trans4mers has earned almost double what Guardians has, a billion to $547.7 million. Guardians has yet to open in China and Japan, but if it doesn’t catch Trans4mers, that’s your first counter argument the next time someone blames Americans for having crappy taste in movies.

As for this weekend, once again things weren’t great for the new releases. Guardians and TMNT went one and two, with the new wide releases As Above/So Below and November Man going fourth and sixth, with $8.3 and $7.6 million, respectively. Above/Below a found-footage movie about catacomb demons or something only cost $5 million to make, which is good for Legendary Entertainment. Less good was the film’s horrible, C- Cinemascore. I guess it’s still even money on whether future found-footage projects will still be attractive to studios. Maybe they’ll stop making them if we ask nicely?

The November Man, which saw Pierce Brosnan and Olga Kurylenko re-audition for Bond, cost a similarly reasonable $20 million to make, and earned a better B+ cinemascore, but only earned $7.6 million at the domestic box office. It’s a bummer, because the idea of a Bond or Bourne movie with actual nudity and adult themes was a good one, it’s just that the movie itself felt slapped together like a last-minute homework assignment.

But I might be burying the lede here. The box office as a whole was down 15% from last year, bringing it to an eight-year low. When you account for inflation? It was the worst in 17 years.

Although official numbers for summer 2014 won’t be released until Tuesday, North American revenue for the season will barely crack $4 billion, marking an eight-year low and, when accounting for inflation, a 17-year low. And revenue is down 15 percent from last year’s record haul of $4.75 billion, the biggest year-over-year decline that anyone can remember. [TheHollywoodReporter]

Again, the key word there is “North American.” Trans4mers was a mild disappointment in North America, but made 77% of its money overseas. Some will argue that the box office is cyclical and once the next Avengers and everything else hits next Summer, things will be back to normal. But even if it isn’t, it’s likely that the movie box office isn’t tanking so much as it’s shifting, where the big blockbusters increasingly look overseas to make their money. Of course, the last two Transformers movies making more than a billion dollars don’t make that future look very promising.