Hollywood just suffered its worst Memorial Day weekend in 18 years, an eye-popping omen for what’s shaping up to be a bleak summer box office. All signs suggest Warner Bros. is about to deliver a much-needed hit with Diana of Themyscira, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, whose long-awaited feature film gets its wide release this weekend. But that probably won’t be enough to lift the movie business out if its funk, with summer ticket sales down 9% from the same period last year, according to ComScore. Last weekend’s debut of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” topped the charts with $77 million in the U.S. and Canada, down significantly from its 2011 predecessor “On Stranger Tides.” Paramount Pictures’ “Baywatch” wiped out with $27.6 million in five days, thanks to poor reviews. “Summer box office is off to a terrible start,” Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz said in a Tuesday note to clients. Individual movies are not the only problem, analysts say. This summer has been hampered by Hollywood’s over-reliance on tent poles and aging franchises, coupled with worsening attendance levels because of increased competition from at-home entertainment. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” started May off in a big way ($338 million to date), but it’s been mostly downhill since then. Warner Bros’ “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” was a $175-million flop, and Fox’s “Alien: Covenant” was a lackluster performer. Memorial Day weekend ticket sales totaled $173 million in the United States and Canada, the lowest result for the four-day holiday frame since 1999, according to data from ComScore. The sluggish results are validating pre-summer predictions that the season would fall as much as 10% from last year. American audiences seem to be growing weary of the preponderance of sequels and reboots of old franchises. The latest “Alien” movie opened with $36 million in ticket sales, nearly 30% lower than its predecessor “Prometheus.” The three-day opening of the latest “Pirates” was also down 30% from “On Stranger Tides,” though the movie is making up ground internationally. Growing competition from buzzed-about prestige TV and streaming shows may also be siphoning attention from summer film fare, making it harder for would-be blockbusters to lure patrons. “There are so many options for entertainment, and that certainly raises the bar,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “But the main thing is, you need movies that keep people coming back to the theaters.” Smaller movies normally billed as “counter programming” are getting squeezed. Amy Schumer’s R-rated comedy “Snatched” did modest business, and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” also failed to register at the box office. Not even the charisma of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could save the raunchy “Baywatch.”
Yeah, I’ve heard from friends that the Baywatch reboot was dreadful.. Anyway, to read the rest of this article by Ryan Faughnder over at the LA Times, click on the text above..