Movies

2014 – Bad year for summer blockbusters?

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According to recent box office results and numbers, 2014 has been the worst year for summer blockbusters in over ten years. Not only are many big-name franchises or actors under performing at the box office, like “Transformers: Age Of Extinction” or “Tammy” but people are simply just not going to the movies as much as they use to.

I think a number of reasons why 2014 has been a terrible year for summer blockbusters. But let’s start with the most obvious: the lack of good movies.

At this time last year, there were a dozen movies that I and many others were looking forward to. “Man Of Steel,” “Pacific Rim,” “Despicable Me 2,” “The Wolverine,” “The Heat,” “Kick Ass 2,” “The Way, Way Back,” “The World’s End” and so many more.

But this year? There were maybe five movies that I wanted to see and three of them came out in May.

The general rule of thumb is that, if you make a good movie, people will go see it, even if it has little to no publicity. While that rule has faded in this last decade due to the abundance of high-profile films with inflated budgets and massive casts but low on common sense and good storytelling, the principle remains the same.

I have found myself going to the movies far less than I normally do, and it is not because I’m too busy or low on money. It is because there just aren’t that many movies that I want to see.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy...Milano..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2014

I believe the reason “Guardians Of The Galaxy” has grossed as much money as it has is not just because it is a fun ride that’ll have you smiling all the way through, but because it has almost no competition now. Last week, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” grossed over $90 million in the United States, and the second highest grossing film was “Lucy” with $18 million.

To me, that doesn’t just say that everyone wants to see “Guardians Of The Galaxy” but that people are only interested in seeing those worthwhile movies. Films that actually make an impact on the audience and make them feel something, not a piece of film that’ll keep you in your seat for two hours.

I would not be surprised if “Guardians Of The Galaxy” gets number one at the box office again this week, even with the release of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” If you cast Johnny Knoxville as your lead ninja and Megan Fox as a “competent” reporter, then you are doing something wrong.

It is the same reason “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” did so well at the box office when it came out a month ago. There were no other thoughtful movies out at the time, so that’s the one people wanted to go see.

This is not to say there are not any good movies coming out this summer. I’ve liked plenty of the blockbusters that have been released, especially “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes,” “Godzilla,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and to a lesser extent “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” and “Guardians Of The Galaxy.”

But this brings me to my second point: When all these films were released.

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If you look at the box office totals for the month of May alone, I’m sure that this would have been a good summer blockbuster season. There were at least four movies released in May that people really wanted to see, and all released on separate weekends. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “Godzilla,” “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” and “Maleficent.” Regardless of how you felt about these movies, there was certainly incentive to go see most of them. If the trailers didn’t pull you in, certainly the casting or company did.

But the problem was that, after May ended, there really weren’t any movies that people wanted to see, especially in June. The most exciting movies that came out that month were “The Edge Of Tomorrow” and “22 Jump Street,” with “Edge Of Tomorrow” being considered a failure because it lost the number one box office spot to “The Faults In Our Stars,” thus making Warner Bros. scared that people didn’t want to see sci-fi movies anymore, so they pushed back the highly anticipated “Jupiter Ascending” to February of next year.

I think they’ll reconsider that point when they look at the box office numbers for “Guardians Of The Galaxy.”

People are more willing to go to the movies when there is something to look forward to on a weekly basis. Even if they don’t care for a particular genre, it leaves the audience wanting more and come back for seconds.

But if only one or two worthwhile films come out in a month, then you’re going to get poor box office results. We saw that in July, with the worst Fourth of July weekend box office returns ever. The highest grossing film that weekend was “Transformers: Age Of Extinction” at only roughly $38 million, and the newest Melissa McCarthy comedy “Tammy” opening up at about $19 million.

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Imagine that, people get tired of watching the same actor/actress do the same character in every single movie. Seriously, McCarthy’s roles in “Bridesmaids,” “Identity Thief,” “The Heat” and “Tammy” are so interchangeable that it isn’t funny anymore. Do something different!

But regardless, all the captivating movies this summer were released early on and left little for us to watch in June, July and August. With nothing to look forward to for months at a time, it is no surprise that the box office took a huge hit.

Other contributing factors to the downward spiral of summer blockbusters this year include Pixar not releasing anything this year, the abundance of sequels to films that did mediocre at best like “The Purge: Anarchy” and “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” Disney only releasing one decent picture in “Maleficent” and an over-saturation of Marvel movies, releasing four this year, and not a single DC movie to compliment them.

Though there are still a few weeks left in the summer, it does not seem that there will be any huge winners in the coming month. We might see a surprise in “Sin City: A Dame To Kill For” but I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear very little about it, due to the subject matter and excessive violence. But, as long as it is well-put together and not just an excuse to show gore and sex, then who knows?

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Overall, 2014 has been a terrible year for summer blockbusters. Not necessarily in the quality of the pictures, but rather the lack of good ones. If anything, summer blockbusters have been steadily getting more tolerable to watch. CGI is blending in better, the screenplays are competent when the writers know what they’re doing, and there has been a nice blend of genres that keep the audience entertained in one form or another.

The problem with 2014 is that it thinks less is more. That releasing few good movies in July and August will make up for the rest of the month, when they should be learning from what May did and release intriguing films every week. We don’t want to see one good movie every once in a while, we want to continually see good movies.

Hopefully 2014 learns from this and makes the summer blockbuster season of 2015 even better.

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