Hollywood's summer film wages show weakened blockbuster fare

By JAKE COYLE, Associated Press Published: July 10, 2014

Hollywood’s summer at the box office isn’t just missing nearly 20 percent of last summer’s revenue. It’s lacking swagger.

Summer is the season for mega-budget, chest-thumping, globe-trotting monstrosities — films so big they lure droves of Americans with heavily promoted promises of shock and awe. But this season’s blockbuster output has been curiously low on the summer’s stock in trade: bigness.

Two months into the summer, there haven’t been any $300 million grossers at the North American box office. The only movie to surpass $100 million in its weekend debut was “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” and it did so by such a small smidge that some box-office watchers claimed it was artificially inflated. The Fourth of July, the customary launching pad for some of Hollywood’s flashiest fireworks, was the worst July 4th weekend in at least a decade.

“The first half of the year was extremely strong, as was last year,” says Dan Fellman, domestic distribution head for Warner Bros. “Then all of a sudden, it turned the other way.”

Since kicking off in early May, the summer box office has totaled $2.25 billion, a 19.3 percent drop from last summer. Propelled by hit sequels like “Iron Man 3” and “Despicable Me 2,” last year was a record summer at the box office, despite high-profile bombs such as “The Lone Ranger,” “White House Down” and “After Earth.”

But when you bet big, you can also win big. While Hollywood’s summer has featured no shortage of major blockbusters, it has been more content to hit a double than swing for the fences. This summer’s box office has been dragged down not so much by flops than by a slate of more modest movies.

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