Now that summer has begun in earnest, let’s turn our attention to the plight of the major Hollywood studios. And “plight” is an apt description because May-August [typically 122 days long] can account for up to 40% of box office revenues. Which is to say there is a lot riding on how summer movies perform in theaters.
Early indications are this could be a strong summer. May is on its way to breaking its all-time record. But that momentum can change in one weekend depending on if a movie or two fail to connect with audiences.
Here is a list of the key movies from the major studios with current B.O. for the handful that have already been released, both domestic and international:
20th Century Fox
May 24: Epic [$42.6M / 42.9M = $85.5M]
June 17: The Internship
Jun 28: The Heat
July 17: Turbo
July 26: The Wolverine
August 7: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
May 3: Iron Man 3 [$372.4M / $774.8M = $1,147B]
June 21: Monsters University
July 3: The Lone Ranger
August 9: Planes
May 16: Star Trek Into Darkness [$155.8M / $102.1M = $257.9M]
June 21: World War Z
May 24: Fast and Furious 6 [$120M / $197M = $317M]
June 7: The Purge
July 3: Despicable Me 2
July 19: R.I.P.D.
August 2: 2 Guns
August 16: Kick Ass 2
May 10: The Great Gatsby [$117.7M / $85.6M = $203.3M]
May 23: The Hangover 3 [$63M / $19.2M = $82.2M]
June 14: Man of Steel
July 12: Pacific Rim
July 19: The Conjuring
August 19: We’re the Millers
August 30: Getaway
Why is this information important for a screenwriter?
1. The financial well-being of major studios is a primary component of the health of the literary acquisition and development market [specifically] and the movie business [generally].
2. Trends emerge which we would be well-advised to pay attention to. For example, normally there are 2-3 animated movies per summer. This year: 6. Is that too much or will they all succeed? If the latter, that could mean more opportunities for writers who focus on animation. Also the record-breaking opening of Fast and Furious 6 has been fueled in large part by the Hispanic audience, representing 32% of tickets sold, compared to that group comprising just 17% of U.S. population. Could this be a factor to consider in how we cast our stories, where we set them, and what type of genres we target?
3. The major studios are in effect our ‘customers’. So it makes sense to understand how they are doing. What types of movies are they releasing? How are those movies doing at the box office? How will the performance of those individual titles affect their acquisition dollars? Right now, for example, there is considerable discussion in Hollywood about how to approach the comedy genre. Some are working [Identity Thief], some aren’t [Big Wedding]. Why? Why not? If you’re writing comedies, you want to pay attention to how The Heat and We’re the Millers do this summer.
These are just a few of the reasons for tracking box office. What trends do you see at work this summer?
For a breakdown of the summer movie slate, THR has a good article here.