Box Office: “Guardians” wins final weekend, and the summer…the worst summer since ’97

boxMuch has been made about “Guardians of the Galaxy” failing to reach $300 million at the US box office this summer. But that’s merely a consequence of marketing. If it had opened a week earlier, it might have hit $300 by Labor Day. It would have been the only film this summer to manage that.

More important is it being the best of a bad lot this year, how it rallied a box office that was 20% below last year most of the summer, 30% below for July. The early May-Labor Day numbers are just short of $4 billion, WAY below the numbers from 2013. But it’s not as bad as it might have been, only a 15% drop off, rather than the 20-30% that seemed likely in July.

“Guardians” will win a weak Labor Day weekend with a $15-16 million take, based on Friday’s numbers. 

That will leave it in the $275 range. As I say, if it had opened a weekend earlier it could have hit $300. But tons of movies made $100 (“Edge of Tomorrow” cleared that mark Friday), more than a few made well over $200. So, a bad situation, not the end of the world. Yet.

“Turtles” and “If I Stay” are doing respectable numbers in second and third place.

The new release “As Above, So Below” is earning poor early marks from audiences, following bad reviews from critics, and will be lucky to open in the top five. “November Man” was wisely opened on Wed., as it, “Let’s Be Cops” and “As Above, So Below” are all in the $8-10 million range for the weekend, too close to call for top five standings, as of now. “November” will have earned $13 or so since Wed. by Monday night.

The unpreviewed “Cantinflas” biopic (great Mexican entertainer/film star of the ’50s) is doing very well on a small number of screens. I will have to find a theater showing here in La Florida as it looks to best “Sin City” this weekend. It’s not opened in Greater Orlando, apparently. “Sin City,” with a Mexican-American director, plummeted to 14th place this weekend. Biggest flop of the summer? Yup.

“Ghostbusters” re-opened in theaters, to a couple of million, tops, and “Chef” added enough theaters to finally clear $30 million.

The summer is finishing as it began, with a whimper — down 15% in the US from 2013, the worst showing since 1997. Ticket sales look even worse than the cash take.

Considering the overload of sequels, comic book adaptations and generally repetitious fare, Hollywood should take this as a wake up call. Several comedies flopped, only “22 Jump Street” performed.

But next summer’s “impressive” line up has even more comic book adaptations and sequels set up. Golly.

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