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While August has classically been considered a weak spot on the Hollywood release date schedule, with studios regularly using the time as a sort of dumping ground for blockbusters they don't have much faith in, that hasn't been the case so far in 2014. The month got off to a hot start with the release of Marvel Studios' record-setting Guardians of the Galaxy, and a second week boost came in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those unexpected hits have certainly been good for the industry as a whole, but unfortunately they haven't been enough to turn fortunes around for this entire season.
The Hollywood Reporter has crunched the numbers, and while August ticket sales have been impressive, the reality is that the summer box office as a whole is on track for a record drop. It was back in July that we learned that the season was on pace for a 20 percent drop from 2013, and while that number has since fallen to 15.3 percent, that's still a troubling statistic. From May 2nd to August 17th of last year, a total of $4.367 billion in revenue was collected. This year, that number stands at only $3.699 billon. Right now the industry is on pace for an eight-year low, and there's a chance that the $4 billion mark won't be reached by Labor Day. Of course, none of these numbers factor in all of the business that is being done abroad.
Instead of summer 2014 being filled with a series of hallmark flops, the problem has been more about widespread underperformance. We have seen some big hits, including Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past, Robert Stromberg's Maleficent, and Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction, but none of those movies will be making more than $300 million domestically while in U.S. theaters. Currently, Transformers 4 is still king of the summer mountain, with a take of $243.3 million, but it still sits below winter and spring hits The LEGO Movie ($257 million) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($259 million). Last summer we saw both Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2 cross the $300 million threshold.
As mentioned, though, Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been considered bright spots in the box office game. Before this year, no film had opened up in August with a take of more than $69 million - a record set by The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007 - but Jmes Gunn's sci-fi blockbuster destroyed that record with a $94 million three-day take. The following week, the Turtles reboot placed fourth on the all time list of August openers, with a $65 million total. Titles like The Expendables 3, Let's Be Cops and The Giver weren't able to keep this streak going this past weekend, but Guardians and Turtles continue to make a lot of money.
While a poor box office showing in the summer season is certainly a bad thing, you shouldn't count 2014 down-and-out just yet. For the full year the industry is only down five percent versus 2013, and there are still some absolutely huge movies still set to come out over the next four months - including The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and Interstellar.