Man do I want to blame this loss on The Huntsman: Winter’s War, but I can’t, seeing as the official summer box office runs from the first Friday in May through Labor Day, meaning Winter’s War (and its lifeless box office tally and huge Universal Pictures studio losses) is safe from jokes, for now.
Third place is not number one however, so calling the 2016 summer box office a loss is within the bounds of acceptable nomenclature. This loss still proves to be the third best summer box office tally ever ($4.483 billion, $4.484 billion, and 2013’s all-time high of $4.75 billion). Translation: there is no slump–don’t believe everything you hear. Since perception is often reality, I’m going to attribute earlier talk of slumps and sagging ticket sales to Hollywood PR reps pushing the notion that things really are as bad as they seem, but since things only seem as bad as we’re told, one must wonder why they’re pushing the issue.
Personally, I believe it ties into the Hollywood narrative that it’s them against us, a horde of movie-pirating, anti-Hollywood, non-ticket buying, stay-at-home and Netflix parasites who ne’er do well unto them. (Apologies if I just got all old-timey on you: I’ve been reading Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind which is, quite good, and old-timey.) In other words, Hollywood is suffering due to everyone stealing their movies and fierce competition. Some of this is true, to a degree. But the narrative helps justify ever-increasing ticket costs. Again, it’s just my sneaking suspicion here, not necessarily the views of Flixist at large.
The massive summer box office success comes despite several high profile flops like the Ghostbusters reboot, the Ben-Hur remake, and the Warcraft adaptation. Prior to the official numbers, the surfeit of unoriginal sequels, remakes, and unimaginative adaptations was cited as reason for deflated summer sales, and sales in general. Apparently, it’s only partly true, as audiences scramble to see certain sequels (perhaps those of quality? Captain America: Civil War) and avoided others that lacked a certain swagger. But then again, even adaptations like Suicide Squad which were widely panned by critics and audiences alike still sold tickets (over $301 million worth, domestically).
This seems to imply that audiences, more than ever, desire entertainment, and they’ll take it, to some extent, in spite of the drivel that the industry slops their way. In other words: Holly Wood, keep cooking crap, we hungry.