Summer 2017 Box Office: Movie Attendance Expected to Hit 25-Year Low

Summer box office revenue dramatically declined this year, and movie attendance is set to reach a 25-year low.

Just one more weekend remains in what is traditionally considered to be the summer movie season, and by the time the Labor Day figures come in, the number of tickets sold is expected to be the lowest since the summer of 1992, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As of August 28, the total revenue for the domestic box office this year is at $3.5 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. For comparison, last summer’s total box office revenue was $4.4 billion. This year will be the first time since 2006 that the total box office revenue of the summer does not exceed $4 billion.

In the end, a 16% drop in revenue is expected for this summer. That’s a much sharper drop than usual; last summer only saw a 0.2% drop in revenue from the previous year, according to Box Office Mojo.

Dr. Jekyll in The Mummy

Dr. Jekyll in The Mummy | Universal Pictures

This past weekend was particularly dismal at the box office. It was the worst weekend in years, with no movie grossing more than $10 million. Don’t expect to see much of an improvement this coming weekend, either, as there is not a single new wide release hitting theaters for Labor Day. The next major movie release is It, which opens on Sept. 8.

At the box office this year, a number of expensive franchise films that were thought to be safe bets underperformed, with Transformers: The Last Knight, Alien: Covenant, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales all being disappointments for their respective studios. In addition, several huge films that were intended to launch franchises failed to connect, including The Mummy, The Dark Tower, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Comedies also generally did not draw audiences; Baywatch, Rough Night, and The House were all bombs, though Girls Trip ended up being surprisingly profitable with a domestic total of over $100 million.

Many of the high-budget blockbusters that disappointed in the United States were saved by the international gross, though. Take, for instance, The Mummy, which only brought in $80 million domestically on a budget of $125 million. Overseas, it took in an additional $327 million, preventing it from being an all-out disaster for Universal Pictures. And while American audiences weren’t interested in seeing a fifth Transformers, those outside of the United States turned out and brought the movie’s international gross to a solid $473 million.


Optimus Prime | Paramount Pictures

The news isn’t all bad domestically, and at least four tentpoles were unmitigated successes: Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Despicable Me 3. Wonder Woman becoming the highest-grossing film of the summer was a surprise, but its gross of $406 million is still far below that of 2016’s No. 1 movie, Finding Dory ($486 million), and 2015’s No. 1 movie, Jurassic World ($652 million).

Not helping the summer movie season’s overall gross was a particularly desolate August. Last August, Suicide SquadSausage Party, Pete’s Dragon, Florence Foster Jenkins, War Dogs, Ben Hur, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Don’t Breathe all opened. This year, the only major August releases were The Dark Tower, Kidnap, Annabelle: Creation, The Glass Castle, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Logan Lucky, and Leap! With the exception of Annabelle: Creation, none of those films performed well.

Although this summer was a bit of a disaster for Hollywood, the same is unlikely to be true next year. After all, the 2018 summer movie season will feature the release of Avengers: Infinity War, the untitled Han Solo film, Deadpool 2, Ocean’s 8, The Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Ant-Man and the WaspMamma Mia: Here We Go Again!Mission: Impossible 6, The Predator, Scarface, and Barbie to name a few. Needless to say, revenue is unlikely to fall below $4 billion again.