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Box office glance
What’s working
Sequels. Hollywood is often criticized for recycling, but the top six movies at the summer box office are all either sequels, reboots or new twists on old properties: “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” ($227 million), “Maleficent” ($215 million), “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” ($201 million), “Godzilla” ($198 million), “Transformers: Age of Extinction” ($180 million) and “22 Jump Street” ($161 million).
Anything by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The directing pair have two of the year’s top 10 films to their name: “The Lego Movie” ($257 million) and “22 Jump Street.” Both became hits by irreverently parodying their own crassness as a toy movie and as an unnecessary sequel. What’s not
Family fare. Disney’s “Maleficent” has benefited from the relative dearth of kid-friendly options. But the other family films, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” ($142 million) and “Rio 2” ($142 million), have failed to generate the kind of summer box office usually expected.
Comedies without Seth Rogen. Rogen’s “Neighbors” ($148 million) and “22 Jump Street” (in which he makes a cameo) are the two biggest comedies of the year. But releases led by Melissa McCarthy, Adam Sandler and Seth MacFarlane have struggled. Sandler’s “Blended” ($44 million), MacFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West” ($42 million) and McCarthy’s “Tammy” ($36 million) have all been dragged down by weak reviews.
Associated Press photos
Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager in “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” one of the biggest summer hits.

Summer box office suffers

Lackluster hits lead to meager seasonal sales

One of the season’s biggest sensations, “The Fault in Our Stars,” appeals to the ardent fans of John Green’s book.

– Hollywood’s summer at the box office isn’t just missing nearly 20 percent of last summer’s revenue. It’s lacking swagger.

Summer is the season for mega-budget, chest-thumping, globe-trotting monstrosities – films so big they lure droves of Americans with heavily promoted promises of shock and awe. But this season’s blockbuster output has been curiously low on the summer’s stock in trade: bigness.

Two months into the summer, there haven’t been any $300 million grossers at the North American box office. The only movie to surpass $100 million in its weekend debut was “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” and it did so by such a smidge that some box-office watchers claimed it was artificially inflated.

The Fourth of July, the customary launching pad for some of Hollywood’s flashiest fireworks, was the worst July Fourth holiday weekend in at least a decade.

“The first half of the year was extremely strong, as was last year,” said Dan Fellman, domestic distribution head for Warner Bros. “Then all of a sudden, it turned the other way.”

Since kicking off in early May, the summer box office has totaled $2.25 billion, a 19.3 percent downturn from last summer. Propelled by hit sequels “Iron Man 3” and “Despicable Me 2,” last year was a record summer at the box office, despite a series of high-profile bombs such as “The Lone Ranger,” “White House Down” and “After Earth.”

But when you bet big, you can also win big. While Hollywood’s summer has featured no shortage of major blockbusters, it has in some ways been more content to hit a double than swing for the fences. This summer’s box office has been dragged down not so much by flops than by a slate of modestly ambitious movies.

The only major July Fourth release was the Melissa McCarthy comedy “Tammy,” made for just $20 million. It debuted with a lackluster $21.6 million.

One of the season’s biggest sensations, “The Fault in Our Stars,” was a niche-based hit that appealed to the ardent fans of John Green’s young-adult book. A whopping 82 percent of its $48 million opening weekend was female.

The ensemble comedy sequel “Think Like a Man Too” topped a weekend in June with $29.2 million despite little crossover appeal.

These movies will likely all be quite profitable for their respective studios due to their cost-conscious budgets. But they aren’t superhero-sized hits.

Many of the blockbusters have seen revenue quickly tumble after the first weekend or two. Paramount’s “Transformers” – the biggest movie of the summer – nosedived 63 percent in its second weekend. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” opened big with $90.8 million but slid 64 percent the following week. “Godzilla” bowed with $93.2 million, only to drop 67 percent.

Instead, the studios have been banking on their biggest growth coming from overseas markets.

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