Major studios and theatres crippled by low ticket sales
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
This year was brutal for Hollywood as the box office saw the worst summer in 22 years. Major film studios suffered blows as movies underperformed, sometimes radically, and a few blockbusters were postponed until the fall. Movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, The Lego Ninjago Movie, mother!, Baywatch, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword saw large drop-offs in ticket sales after their opening weekends, with Ninjago particularly failing to bring in audiences despite its mainstream appeal and large budget. As an independent film, mother! anticipated low sales with a niche audience but still undersold.
The poor performance has been harsh on theatres. According to Variety, the four largest theatre chains in North America together have shed $1.3 billion in value since August, with analysts saying there’s little chance of improvement for the next quarter. Canada’s Cineplex also declared an extremely poor season and will be lowering ticket prices in the fall to attract new customers. Independent studios are also being punished hard, particularly Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, whose Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets cost the fledgling company tens of millions.
The poor year may spell trouble for Vancouver’s slowing film industry as particularly expensive blockbusters, most noticeably Deadpool 2 and an unnamed The Lego Movie sequel, prepare for release within the next two years. Both movies are risk-takers, with very few R-rated action movies or stop-motion/CGI animations ever doing well historically until the last few years. Studios and theatres alike are watching their franchises carefully as an even slower third quarter looms for the industry.