Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Year in Box Office

The Times tells us that 2014 was sucky.

... After setting a record level of ticket sales in 2013, the industry experienced one of its worst summer seasons in years and struggled to rebound in the fall. Rentrak estimates that the 2014 movies will end up grossing $10.4 billion in the U.S. and Canada, about 5% less than last year’s $10.9 billion.

“July really hurt the industry,” said Tim Warner, chief executive of Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest theater chain. “We never really recovered.” ...

Nonetheless, Fox had a strong year with such films as “Gone Girl,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and DreamWorks Animation’s summer movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Analysts, however, were disappointed by DreamWorks’ latest animated movie, “Penguins of Madagascar.” ...

“If a movie like ‘Transformers’ doesn’t go over the top in surpassing the previous installment, people are tweeting about it immediately and not bothering to come see it,” said David Passman, chief executive of Carmike Cinemas. ...

DreamWorks Animation calculated that a comedic spin-off from a major franchise would pack them in, but the calculation turned out to be wrong. It's not that audiences won't turn out for animated features, or that there's too much animated product out there. Audiences simply won't buy tickets to product they find non-compelling. Based on current evidence DWA has under-achieved of late in the "want-to-see" category.

But studios' successes and failures generally happen in waves. When a feature animation brand is hot, the momentum often lasts for several pictures. And when a company is mired in a ditch, it usually stays there an uncomfortably long time. It took years for Disney features to make a comeback. The same may end up being true for DreamWorks Animation.


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