Summer Box Office: Is Tentpole Fatigue in Play?

(L-R) Jon Bass plays Ronnie, Alex Daddario plays Summer, Zac Efron plays Matt Brody, Dwayne Johnson plays Mitch Buchannon, Kelly Rohrbach plays CJ Parker, and Ilfenesh Hadera plays Stephanie Holden in BAYWATCH; the film by Paramount Pictures Montecito Picture Company, FlynnPicture Co., and Fremantle Productions. Photo credit: Frank Masi

Memorial Day used to mark the kick-off of the summer movie box office season but that changed the minute that Sony dated Spider-Man for release at the start of May 2002.

Many films released this past month have opened below studio expectations.  Are audiences tired of these tentpoles or are movies thought to be critic-proof no longer critic-proof?  Before I started writing reviews regularly, I would turn to the likes of Roger Ebert for my make-or-break on deciding to see a film or not.  Even after I started writing, I would turn to Rotten Tomatoes to decide whether or not a film was worth seeing, let alone worth reviewing.

That’s where we are right now. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the first major tentpole release of the summer.  It’s outperforming the first film in the franchise in opening and total domestic gross.  When all is said and done, it’s going to be one of the best summer releases from a financial standpoint.

Last year saw the openings of X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass.  Both films did less than expected.  Of the newer X-Men films, 2014’s Days of Future Past performed the best both domestic and around the globe.  People aren’t tired of the X-Men as Logan has performed well for opening up at the start of March.  As for Alice, the numbers speak for itself.  The first film opened to $116.1 million in March while the sequel opened up to $26.8 million during Memorial Day weekend.

Compared to last year, the overall weekend is down about some 15%.  Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales finished with a 3-day of $62 million and an estimated $77 for the 4-day weekend.  Guardians is still playing strong with an estimated $25 million this weekend to hold the second place spot.  Baywatch, which opened on Thursday, took in $18 for the 3-day weekend and $22 for the 4-day.   Coming in fourth place with a 71% drop is Alien: Covenant, taking in around $10.5 for the 3-day and $13.1 for the 4-day.

The weak performance for Baywatch will mean a shorter-than-expected domestic run.  It only opened in Taiwan but opens in some 31 countries during the next weekend.  If Paramount expected to launch a franchise on the big screen with the reboot, they didn’t get what they were hoping for.  A third place finish this weekend isn’t bad but with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron leading it, it’s not a good start.

All eyes will be on Wonder Woman during the next weekend.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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