Bit of dramatic title, but I think it’s a fair question to ask with recent release results... So are the days of the huge openings for summer movies coming to an end?
I ask this because I remember the days when films like Spider-Man 3 and The Dark Knight were opening to $150million plus weekends. There hasn’t been a film to hit those types of numbers in a long time, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 did pretty well with $125m (but that was in November so doesn’t really count as a summer blockbuster).
Allow me to prove my point with some comparison examples...
Pirates 4 opened to $90million in its first weekend this year, whereas in 2007 Pirates 3 opened with $114m and before that in 2006 Pirates 2 opened with a staggering $135m.
Maybe not a direct sequel comparison but you could also compare the first Iron Man and Thor as they were new “untested” B-List superhero movies and released on the first weekend in May. In 2008 Iron Man opened with $98m, whereas Thor opened with lower $65m.
The most recent comparison being Transformer: Dark of the Moon which took $37.3m on its first day (which don’t get me wrong is still the biggest first day opening in 2011), but its predecessor Revenge of the Fallen took almost double that with $62m (both opening days were on Wednesday so it’s a fair comparison).
Just comparing those figures it looks bad, but the situation is actually a lot worse, because the previous year’s numbers don’t take into account inflation and the fact that the new 2011 movies were released in 3D so they should have benefitted from the additional 3D surcharge as well. If you take that into account the difference is even wider.
You can’t really blame it on competition either because Pirates 3 opened into a market that had seen the launch of Shrek 3 and Spider-Man 3 the weeks previously.
So what is going on? Are consumers no longer interested in seeing these films? Are the current franchise films not as strong as the ones 5 years ago? Have the sequels and super heroes out stayed their welcome? Is there genuinely a decline in people going to the cinema?
Personally I think about the same amount of people are still going to see films, but due to the economic conditions people are only going to see them once rather than multiple times (which use to be common place) and no film makes $150m without some people going to see it several times.
The good news is that a lot of this decline seems to be happening in the US market, the international markets are actually growing so hopefully there’s a little life in the summer movie blockbuster yet.
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