Capping off a season that has already been declared one of the lowest for the music industry, as well as the general human race, Variety reports that the box office also just had a crappy summer—its worst in eight years. Ticket sales here at the tail end of August are running 15 percent behind last year’s, while overall returns have made for the worst summer Hollywood has seen since 2006, when movies like Cars, Superman Returns, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest were among the few box-office bright spots, and Derek got busted smoking weed behind the Del Taco and his dad grounded him, leaving Hollywood with zero friends who had a car.
For those who have been following the weekly box office reports and can add, this news is perhaps not all that surprising. Despite solidly performing sequels like 22 Jump Street and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes in earlier months, and bona fide August smashes like Guardians Of The Galaxy and, yes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, no movie this year has approached the $300 million domestic mark, for the first time since 2001. Meanwhile, obligatory franchise entries that have propped up seasons past like Transformers: Age Of Extinction and The Expendables 3 were greeted as listlessly as they were conceived. (And obligatory franchise entries that also could have boosted the season, like Fast & Furious 7, were waylaid by far worse tragedies than movie studios making slightly fewer millions.)
All in all, summer 2014 was an assemblage of movies that did pretty good, entertaining a decent chunk of the audience for a respectable haul, if not the record-breaking returns of last year. Or as one of Variety’s analysts declares, “You can’t chalk it up to anything other than a weak slate of movies that didn’t resonate with consumers.” There’s even a chart that looks like the sort of thing you’d see scattered on the floor amid the broken glass, beneath a window with a studio executive-shaped hole in it.
Still, the Variety article also points out that, unlike last year, at least there were no embarrassing, write-down-triggering flops. There’s also the small matter that the American box office is increasingly an afterthought compared to overseas grosses. And few would deny that all of the new Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Pixar movies seem poised to reverse any sort of downward “trend”—if it can even reasonably be called that—over these next two years. So despite all of this seeming hand-wringing, it’s likely that Hollywood will simply do like the rest of us: Declare that summer 2014 totally sucked, and just try to move on.