The 2017 box office slump continues. The domestic figures for the summer season — measured from the first Friday of May through to the Labor Day Monday — are on track to be the lowest in a decade. At a projected gross of $3.78 billion, this summer could be the first since 2006 to fall short of $4 billion dollars.
Typically reliable franchise flicks like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($172 million), Transformers: The Last Knight ($132 million), and The Mummy ($80 million) all underperformed in the US.
The figures for August were especially bad. Annabelle: Creation took the top spot, pulling in a measly $79 million, while The Dark Tower ($45 million) and The Hitman’s Bodyguard ($41 million) followed in a distant second and third. Compare that to 2016’s August blockbuster, Suicide Squad, which managed to pull in $325 million in its opening month (and an eye-watering $746 million worldwide).
The domestic slump is due to a combination of sequel and franchise fatigue and an increased appetite for streaming (Netflix and chill?). Hollywood has both good and bad years, so it’s unclear whether this is the start of a wider trend. But saying that, such a drastic drop is always a cause for concern.
Internationally, the numbers tell a very different story. The global box office over the summer rose by almost three percent compared to last year. Boosted primarily by the increasingly influential Chinese market, the Hollywood tent-poles have remained remarkably profitable.
But can Hollywood continue to rely on China to keep it afloat?
Wolf Warriors 2, a 2017 Chinese action film, is currently the fifth highest-grossing flick of the year and the first non-Hollywood film to break the top 100 all-time highest-grossing films. Since its release in late July, the Chinese blockbuster has already raked in over $833 million, with almost all of its revenue coming from within China.
As the Chinese movie-going market grows, so does its domestic film industry. Hollywood is no longer the only player in the big-budget blockbuster scene, and it’ll have to compete with a well-financed Chinese film industry in order to maintain its worldwide box-office figures.