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What Kind of May Has it Been?

I’m off on holidays for the next few days, so you won’t hear from me until next weekend. I just thought I’d have a very quick look at how the “now arriving a month early” summer box office season is going so far. Back at the start of the month I predicted a massive summer, even by Hollywood’s standards. Would I care to revise my estimates, one month in?

Keep on Trekkin'

Keep on Trekkin'

I’m not sure to be honest. It has been a really big month for flash-in-the-pan hits – Wolverine took $85m and then disappeared, Angels & Demons has already vanished from the top five – but it has also been a year of disappointing openings. Star Trek, Wolverine and Up opened ahead of expectations (though some would say that’s just good marketing at work), but Angels & Demons and Terminator: Salvation pretty much crashed and burned. Drag Me to Hell did better than I expected it to and Night at the Museum 2 did about as well.

But enough of the opinion stuff, what about the figures?

Well, this year saw four of the top thirty May openings ever (Star Trek, Wolverine, Up and Night at the Museum 2). That’s exactly the same as last summer (Indiana Jones, Iron Man, Sex and the City and Prince Caspian). As a whole, the films from last year took more, so this summer is already behind last year even before we hit the record-breaking behemoth that was The Dark Knight. None of the films opening came close to the figures hit by the May releases from the year before last (the trinity of trilogy-finishers – Spiderman, Pirates and Shrek).

Being honest, I am tempted to revise my somewhat bold initial estimates. There are only two really big-hitters left to come out this summer (Harry Potter and Transformers 2) and neither should be underestimated. I still say this year will definitely give last year’s golden summer (one of the best years on record) a run for its money. The trend that realy got me was that the initial few weekends went very well, but then the Box Office pittered out just as I expected it to hit full steam.

Get your claws out...

Get your claws out...

Is it possible that American audiences are actually getting tired of blockbusters? I remember when there used to be only a handful of big releases each summer, but in the past number of years, we’ve seen blockbuster season stretch. This year Watchmen was widely observed as opening the field in March. Even if you write that off as an early misfire by the big studios, April’s release of Fast & Furious wasn’t. Maybe there is only so far that you can drag summer audiences. I know that personally I won’t see half the field of blockbusters in the cinema, because I have neither time nor money to do so.

Anyway, that’s all inconsequential. I’ll probably look back over the summer when it is finally over and done with. For the moment, against all odds, I’m going to stick by my “record-breaking summer” pitch.

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