The 5 Worst Summer Weekends at the Box Office in the Last 5 Years
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The 5 Worst Summer Weekends at the Box Office in the Last 5 Years

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | July 20, 2014 | Comments ()

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It has not been a strong summer at the box office. Though the box-office was up compared to last year heading into the summer (thanks in part to Captain America and The LEGO Movie), it quickly frittered away its lead. There have been a few hits this summer (Maleficent, 22 Jump Street) but the huge blockbusters haven’t been performing as hugely as they’re supposed to, and there have been a lot of films expected to be hits that have flailed. Tammy, for instance. And this weekend’s Sex Tape, which opened with $15 million, behind the soft openings of Planes: Fire & Rescue ($18 million) and The Purge: Anarchy ($28 million). Thankfully, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is doing its part this summer, falling only 50 percent to hold the lead this weekend with another $36 million. (It’s at #138 million after 10 days, and $240 million worldwide).

How bad has this summer been? I looked at the overall weekend grosses over the last five years for the summer (May through July), and TWO of the worst weekends during that period came in 2014. In fact, the 4th of July weekend this year was the worst since 2009, when Wild Wild West bombed at the box office.

Here are the worst five weekends at the box office since 2009.

5. June 10-12, 2011 ($137 million)

Opener Super 8 ($35 million) led a weak weekend of holdovers (X-Men: First Class and Hangover 2. The other weekend’s new entry, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, finished 7th with $6 million.

4. May 9-11, 2014 ($136 million)

Neighbors actually had a very solid opening weekend ($49 million), but nothing else could get going. Amazing Spider-Man 2 fell 61 percent in its second weekend, and the other two openers, Mom’s Night Out and Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return were DOA. In fact, Captain America ($6 million) was number five, and it opened six weeks before.

3. July 4-6, 2014 ($132 million)

Tammy ($21 million), Deliver Us from Evil ($9 million), and Earth to Echo ($8.3 million) all opened behind Transformers: Age of Extinction ($37 million) in its disappointing second weekend, making this easily the worst 4th of July at the box office in at least five years.

2. June 15-17, 2012 ($130 million)

Openers Rock of Ages ($14,437,269) and That’s My Boy ($13,453,714) finished third and fourth, behind holdovers Madagascar 3 and Prometheus

1. June 4-6th, 2010 ($128 million)

There were four new releases that weekend (Get Him to the Greek, $17 million; Killers, $15 million; Marmaduke, $11.5 million), and Splice, $7.3 million, and none of them could overtake Shrek Forever After in its third week ($25 million).

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • It's odd there was no large tentpole released on the July 4 holiday. That was Will Smith's exclusive domain back in the day.

  • It's not surprising, there has not been much to compel me to go to the theater this summer. The only movie I've seen is Dragon 2 and the only one I'm still interested in is Guardians of the Galaxy. It's been a really disappointing summer in terms of movies.

  • Ricky, Bubbles & Julian

    I'm convinced that there are people in Hollywood who plot with each other, a contest if you will, to see who can propose the lousiest movie, then who can get financing for the lousiest movie, then who can actually MAKE the lousiest movie. That's the only thing that makes sense, when looking at the local cineplex's offerings and having, literally, nothing even remotely interesting to see. Endless trash

  • BootlegGinger

    I've seen one movie in theaters this summer, How to Train Your Dragon 2 in 3D. worth every damn penny. (first time i've done for the 3D thing, i know i know). I usually see one movie a summer. Last year it was Star Trek. I like to go for the big production movies if I've going to pay the money to see it in cinema.
    I think that's how quite a few people are. Something like Tammy or Sex Tape is a rental/netflix movie. No need to spend the extra money to see on the big screen, but Captain America, Maleficent, etc. are probably more "big screen experience." IDK

  • dizzylucy

    I actually haven't seen any, strangely enough. Nothing really appealed to me - there was a couple I planned on seeing, but never got around to it. The only one I regret missing on the big screen was Godzilla, but oh well.

  • Bryan

    By not watching that movie you missed out on maybe 10 minutes of actually seeing Godzilla. When exactly are they gonna learn that nobody goes to a Godzilla movie to watch humans?!? C'mon guys, TV Tropes even has an entry for it!

  • Couple of reasons for that:

    1. We haven't had a The Dark Knight, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows or The Avengers to drive throughout the summer as a massive tentpole that brings people to theaters again and again.

    2. People are still not recovered from the Recession. They're being cautious with their money. so what do they do? They put it in the well-known (Transformers, How to Train Your Dragon, Angelina Jolie) rather than the unknown. Specially tweens and teens, who are the bulk of the disposable summer income for movies.

  • Pawesl

    Did no one proofread this article?

  • Ginger McFlea

    The other day I was reflecting on how, thanks to children, I've seen Judy Moody and the NOT bummer summer more times than can be healthy for an adult woman. But then I reflect on posts like this, and what else I might have been watching, and I feel like I got off lightly. Judy is definitely towards the top of this list.

  • HerringGull

    Only one weekend actaully in the summer. Because theatres air-conditioned?

  • Stu Rat

    Air conditioning was why I went to see The Lone Ranger; ironically, I think, as I seem to be one of the few people who liked it.

  • fracas

    More people should have seen Splice.

  • NoPantsMcLane

    Yeah, whoever thought it was a good idea to re-release Wild Wild West in theaters again on it's 10 year anniversary was a real idiot.

  • Sean

    But Tammy and the Purge cost nothing to produce. Both are hugely profitable. Especially the Purge 2. Cost $9 million, already pulled in $29 million.
    The issue is problem is mostly that people won't pay to see shitty movies unless they have giant, shape changing robots in them.

  • Zen

    I'd love to be able to say $9 million was nothing.

  • Sean

    Well, Planet of the Apes,
    Transformers and X-Men each cost more than $200 million. Spiderman probably cost $300 million. So $9 million is probably what Tom Cruise spent on plastic surgery and Xenu on his last movie. Which I actually liked.

  • Coolg82

    I think there is something to remember about how we discuss and consider box office success in this day and age. I remember how it was such a big deal that Spider Man made over 100 million its opening weekend, and it took several years for another movie to hit that. Now, a popular movie is expected to make that much. It used to be rare for a movie to hit the top twenty all time domestic list. Now, it happens at least twice or so a year. This could be an increase in internet promotion, as the reach of ads now extends to a much larger percent of the population than it did ten years ago. A movie used to be a dud if it didn't make its money back at all. Now, its a dud if it didn't make the money back in the first couple of weeks, despite whether it already has made its money back overseas. A movie used to be considered to be doing well if it made 30 million its opening weekend. Now, thats considered low for the blockbusters. A large part of this may have to do with the fact that movie budgets have ballooned so much that movies have to break the record to make the money back.

  • Not sure about this. The studios have decided to run away from middle of the road movies in favor of tentpoles/blockbusters/franchises. In many ways it seems easier to get a 150 million dollar movie made these days than a 45 million dollar movie. That 150 million (plus another 75 - 80 million in promotion) is all but guaranteed to make it's coin back internationally, which is why these tentpoles are less and less satisfying - the broadening of message and dulling of any real vision beyond CGI - while the 45 million dollar movie becomes the real gamble, as without the CGI it's nowhere near a given that those movies will make money (Neighbors, The Hangover and Bridesmaids being the outliers - not even going to talk about middle budget dramas - no chance there). On the other end you've got indies and speciality fare, one or two of which will break out every year if they can get the right kind of buzz going, but otherwise they are barely worth mentioning and definitely not something that studios can rely on to turn profits every year.

    I think it used to be that you could call a movie a failure or a success based on it's American premiere weekend, and more and more that's no longer the case. Which is why a pretty bad movie like Pacific Rim ends up getting a sequel - it doesn't matter that it only did OK here. We're increasingly irrelevant as an audience to the one thing we still produce at a much higher quality than the rest of the world.

  • Coolg82

    That does not change the discussion though. There are reasons why production companies make the decisions they do, but the media who report box office numbers have taken the trend in a different direction from the past that has little to do with the blandification of cinema.

    Star Trek Into Darkness is a good example. Numbers wise, it was considered disappointing by most of the sites I saw the box office reported. This wasnt because it made much less that the previous or it did badly, it was because it made a couple million less the opening weekend than Star Trek did. That mood carried on, despite 3 already being in pre-production and despite the fact that the movie ended up making its entire domestic intake plus 10 million overseas, placing it about 80 million higher than Star Trek. Tintin was discussed as if it did poorly, despite making bank overseas, and John Carter has been considered a failure despite the fact that it did make its money back overseas. These movies were discussed as financial failures despite each of them at least making the money back or at most making triple the budget back. Now, John Carter did lose money, but it did it technically, because Disney's marketing machine was in full swing and Disney thought that by flooding the market in advertisement would bring in the massive numbers Disney usually gets from doing that, but it didn't work that time. The actual production costs were made back up.

  • Nick29789

    Wild Wild West came out in 1999, not 2009.

  • Salasalu

    Wild Wild West released in 1999, no??

  • Dulce et Banana

    Given the smell, I think Dustin can be forgiven to thinking it was ... fresher ... than originally assumed. Oooeee, someone wanna open a window or light a match or something?

  • Tinkerville

    I was recently feeling all sad about Edge of Tomorrow not faring better at the box office, but then I saw that header photo and remembered that sometimes we get things right.

  • Barrie Williams

    I'm so glad I saw Edge of Tomorrow at the cinematorium at a premiere where I won tickets to, but disappointed I didn't watch it again with my own money. I still don't know if I would have seen it off my own back. Such a great film.

  • deliarpatterson

    Jacqueline implied I'm taken by surprise that a mom can earn $8130 in 1 month
    on the computer . see post C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

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