Memorial Day Box Office Addendum

So, from my last post decrying the box office of summer 2024, there’s a good as heck update.

June is shaping up to be a huge improvement over May, thanks to exactly what I was talking about. Actual quality releases, just plain good movies audiences want to see, all bunched together and lifting each other up.

This weekend saw the gargantuan release of Inside Out 2, the first $150+ million opening since Barbie last year. It was so big that it helped a lot of the movies underneath as well. Bad Boys 4, Planet of the Apes, Garfield, and even IF all ended up doing pretty solid business. It’s too little, too late for movies like Furiosa and Fall Guy which dropped like rocks, no thanks to studios who will dump their movies on home video TWO WEEKS AFTER RELEASE for some reason–but at least some movies are holding on pretty well.

The theatrical slate this year was really hurt bad by the final bits of pandemic aftereffects, and the six-month strike, and the general downturn in the economy. 2024 was always gonna be really tough. (I gave the studios some ideas but they never listen…) But the takeaway is that you need to release actual stuff, and it needs to be in theaters for a lot longer.

Planet of the Apes dropped just 4% in is sixth weekend; in the 80s or even the 90s, that’d be pretty normal for a well-liked blockbuster like this. But nowadays, it’s quite remarkable that it’s holding up so well. Due to the extreme lack of anything else to watch, and a competent marketing team at 20th Century Studios, it got time to breathe without being thrown onto home video or streaming. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s exactly the kind of movie that theaters were made for.

IF just passed $100 million domestic, which is absolutely remarkable for being a very odd, totally original, sorta-family-friendly fantasy blockbuster. The last original sci-fi/fantasy film to pass $100 million domestic was Free Guy in 2021–also a Ryan Reynolds star vehicle. (The last one before that was A Quiet Place in 2018, another John Krasinski-directed film… Odd coincidence) So it’s really impressive that it made so much.

Although, for a less optimistic note, IF continues the trend of Paramount blockbusters that crash and burn overseas. Last year, they released Dungeons & Dragons, Ninja Turtles, and Transformers Beasts, all of which got good reviews, good praise from fans, and potentially launched new series in their respective franchises–except audiences overseas just totally ignored all of them. And because they had budgets of $100m or more, it meant they were financial losses even if people liked them.

IF seems like it’s going the same way. $100 million isn’t that huge for a movie these days with inflation and all, so it’s really sad to see these movies are still flopping. But, I guess, in the streaming age, it’s still a good thing to have a movie people like, because then it’ll make a buncha money on home video and streaming. Word of mouth can build and build. It won’t help theaters, but it’s something…

The recent news of Sony buying Alamo Drafthouse could be a big gamechanger, though. Until 2019, movie studios weren’t allowed to operate movie theater chains at all due to legal regulations in the olden days when theaters were a much more important part of the culture. Times have changed, though, and now studios owning theaters could be the only way to save them. Sony’s gonna make damn well sure its movies play in the theaters it owns, not just sending them straight to Netflix like it’s been doing for years. Maybe it’ll be for the best if Universal and Disney and Warner Bros. all snap up their own theater chains and create lots of brand synergies and stuff?

The worst-case scenario is that studio-owned theaters will start excluding films from any outside studios, like what they were doing in the old days that caused the regulations. But that ain’t gonna happen because that would mean less $$$$.

OK, that’s the end of my rambling addendum.

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