Weekly Recap: Hollywood’s Summer Bummer
Labor Day Weekend is traditionally the end of the summer movie season. But this year, it seems like summer ended early. The month of August which can usually be counted on for at least one end-of-the-season surprise came up short. It was a disappointing ending to a flaccid summer movie season. 2017 is the first crop of summer movies to gross less than four billion dollars in at least a decade. Worse still, it is estimated to be the least attended summer in twenty-five years! That’s causing studio execs and exhibitors sleepless nights.
There has been a lot of digital ink spilled this week looking for reasons why this summer was such a bummer. One obvious answer is that audiences rejected sequels to franchises that had gone on too long already. Almost no one was excited about another Pirates of the Caribbean or Transformers movie. At least not here in the US. These movies along with the reboot of The Mummy fared better overseas. But even there, the news isn’t great. Hollywood movies are losing market share to international releases, so the foreign market can’t be counted on to save the studios indefinitely.
Of course not all sequels flopped this summer. Despicable Me 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 were winners as was the Spider-man reboot. Wonder Woman was an extension of the larger DC shared universe that became the biggest hit of the summer based on strong reviews and appealing to an under-served demographic. So maybe the problem isn’t sequels so much as it is quality? But then, the critically derided Emoji Movie did very well for itself despite the bad reviews.
The truth is, there are a number of factors that contributed to a lousy summer movie season. For one, movies are facing unprecedented competition from entertainment alternatives like Netflix and Hulu. Audiences have more choices than ever and movies haven’t found a way to adapt. Meanwhile, ticket prices continue to rise which has made movie-goers more selective about which movies to see in theaters.
On top of that, thanks to social media and aggregation sites like Rotten Tomatoes, word of mouth travels faster than ever. In the old days before the internet, the studios could ride out bad reviews for an opening weekend or two. But these days, word is out on bad movies as soon as they open. For now, there is a lot of talk in Hollywood about how movies are a cyclical business and there’s truth to that. The holiday movie season has the potential to save 2017. Hopefully next Labor Day Weekend, we’re not talking about another disappointing summer movie season.
But you guys didn’t come here for a box office autopsy. Sundays are all about the Weekly Recap. So let’s take a look at what was going on here at Le Blog this week. I’m going to keep the actual recap pretty short and sweet this week because I have a Labor Day thing to go to. (Before you ask, the lengthy box office summary was written in advance.)
In addition to a three-day weekend, we had birthday’s to celebrate. Here are this week’s headliners from Jestak’s daily write-ups:
- Aug 28: David Fincher and Jack Black
- Aug 29: Lea Michele and Preston Sturges
- Aug 30: Shirley Booth and Fred MacMurray
- Aug 31: Van Morrison and James Coburn
- Sept 1: Zendaya and Edgar Rice Burroughs
- Sept 2: Mark Harmon and Nicolette Krebitz
- Sept 3: Charlie Sheen and Noah Baumbach
Daffy is currently in Disney World, so I’m sure we can look forward to some vlogs when he gets back. Before departing he left us with the latest installment in his movie poster puzzle series. This time, he covered the Marx brothers in A Night at the Opera. Kevthewriter gave us a double dose of Guy Ritchie with a look at why The Man From U.N.C.L.E. failed to perform as well as Sherlock Holmes.
We had several articles from the Movieline archives this week. The musically-themed 2002 issue included a list of the best movie soundtracks and an interview with Red Hot Chili Peppers front-man, Anthony Kiedis. The 1992 issue included an interview with Annabella Sciorra just as her career peaked and director Cameron Crowe at a time when it seemed like maybe he was stalling out.
Finally I recapped the second-to-last episode of Twin Peaks: The Return. The penultimate installment left me super excited for tonight’s finale although I’m sure going to miss it when it’s over. I will recap the two-hour finale tomorrow although it may take a little longer than usual on the account of the weekend activities. Hope you are all enjoying your Labor Day weekend!
Next Week: The Twin Peaks finale, 14 more celebrity birthday headliners, the return of a feature no one asked for, more Movieline and who knows what else!