The summer box office is typically a lucrative time for studios. Its when they release their big-budget adaptations, remakes, and sequels and usually reap the rewards with massive amounts of cash. For some reason, this summer has been different. The first quarter of the year saw a massive rebound from a dismal 2011. There were several solid hits like Safe House, The Vow, The Devil Inside, Contraband and more. Those were followed by big hits like The Lorax and one of the highest grossing films ever with The Hunger Games, which has grossed over $400 million and had one of the largest opening weekend's ever ($152.5 million). So after record-breaking months in February and March, followed by middling grosses in April, Hollywood was primed and ready to reap the rewards in blockbuster season.
The first week of May saw the release of The Avengers, one of the season's most anticipated blockbusters. The Avengers was the culmination of several hit franchises and expectations were sky high, and the film shattered all of them. Marvel's superhero saga opened to $207 million and has gone on to gross around $586 million and will finish with around $600 million. The box office potential for the summer seemed endless. But those hopes were shattered by a really good May that should have been a lot better. Dark Shadows opened to $29.6 million and has grossed $75 million thus far. That film was headlined with Tim Burton and superstar Johnny Depp, two big names stars that usually have grosses of over $100 million. That was followed by mega-flop Battleship which opened at $25.5 million and has grossed $62 million so far. The Dictator and What To Expect When You're Expecting also disappointed. The next film that was sure to be a hit, MIB3, disappointed with a $69 million opening weekend on Memorial Day. That film has grossed $153 million as of today. Everybody pretty much knew what happened in May: The Avengers completely sucked the air out of the box office. That film gave the other films no room to breate and completely dominated the month.
June started out strong with Snow White and the Huntsman. Expectations were low and the film beat them with a $56 million opening. Granted, the film has had little luck with word of mouth, it was still a rebound for the box office. The next weekend was huge with Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted grossing $60 million and Ridley Scott's highly anticipated sci-fi thriller Prometheus grossing $51 million. The box office that weekend was huge and seemed to be back in full swing. Until the grosses for this past weekend came in. Madagascar 3 held well with another $34 million, while Prometheus dropped like a rock to $20.7 million which was based on poor reception. But that was not the real story of the weekend. The real story was that Rock of Ages and That's My Boy completely flopped. Both films were expected to gross around $20-$30 million and both grossed less than $15 million. That's My Boy was headlined by Adam Sandler who is usually a huge box office draw but here his film did nothing. Rock of Ages was a flop that I did not see coming. Rock of Ages was a film that looked like it was going to be a crowd-pleasing favorite but it only got a B cinemascore. The film also dropped on Monday significantly and will go on to gross less than $50 million. The question after this dismal weekend is obviously: what is going on now?
The answer is that we'll have to wait and see. This weekend was one of the weekends this summer that had no real high profile hits, but they really should have performed better than they did. The rest of the summer shows promise but if we don't see more films that aren't as big as The Avengers or The Hunger Games, the box office is in trouble. Next weekend has real promise with Brave. Brave is an original Pixar film that is headlined with a female character and has recieved mixed reviews. I'm not 100% percent convinced that Brave will be a huge hit. I think that after Cars 2, people might be a little more cautious about a Pixar movie but it will still gross over $50 million in its opening weekend for sure. The film might not appeal as much to boys because of the female heroine, but I think parents will still take kids anyways. It will make $55 to $65 million opening weekend in my opinion. The other two films next weekend are another story. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World are both films that will not be widely appealing and I think that they will gross under $15 million. That's the problem with the box office this summer. Movies that aren't huge hits need to at least perform solid with openings over $20 or $30 million and that's not happening so far. The next week is full of films that may perform well like Magic Mike and Ted, which I think may be the breakout hit of the summer. July and August are really strong and I think will see big rebounds. July has three huge films with The Amazing Spider-Man, Ice Age 4 and the most anticipated film of the summer, The Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight Rises will be one of the biggest films of all time while The Amazing Spider-Man and Ice Age 4 will be $200 million hits as well. August has a lot of films that are the same kind that haven't succeeded this summer. There's The Bourne Legacy, Total Recall, Hope Springs, The Campaign, and The Expendables 2. Those are all films that should make over $100 million, but if they perform the same as the other films this summer, then they're in trouble.
The bottom line is that the box office will hold on. I think that there's enough there this summer for people to get excited about and one bad weekend will not derail the box office. June has been very strong so far and I think that we will see a good summer and a fantastic 2012.