If there’s one thing this year has not been short on, its projections of doom and gloom at the box-office with analysts upset over the fact that 2019 so far is behind last year’s record-breaking overall success.
While people showed up for Disney’s tentpoles (bar “Dumbo”), a few others have sputtered out including “Men in Black International,” “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” “Dark Phoenix,” “Shaft,” “Hellboy,” “UglyDolls” and more. Nevertheless, in the year to date the box-office sits at $6.207 billion worldwide – almost exactly on par with the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 at the same point in time.
Yes it is behind the $6.789 billion pulled in by this time in 2018, but it’s not far off – had one of the failed films that was supposed to hit big done so, it could well have been on par. Nonetheless analysts are still preaching that this the beginning of the end and have pinned the blame on franchise fatigue – even as “Toy Story 4,” “John Wick 3,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” MCU films and more all raked in the business and often outdoing their predecessors.
There’s also suggestion that ever-growing options for entertainment have made audiences more discerning when it comes to shelling out for a movie ticket. Nonetheless some of the biggest releases still to come this year like “The Lion King,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” “IT: Chapter 2,” “Joker,” “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” “Terminator: Dark Fate,” “Frozen 2,” “Jumanji: The Next Level” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” could easily push things to record-breaking highs.
The bigger concern is next year. Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners, says 2020 will have very few mega hits as several major franchises enter a transitional phase. There is no “Star Wars,” the MCU films are scaling back to smaller fare, and some franchises are taking bigger risks which will appeal to a more narrow audience. Even Disney, who has relied so heavily on remakes and sequels this year, is going with mostly originals next year with one or two notable exceptions like the live-action adaptations “Mulan” and “Cruella”.
New entries in franchises like James Bond, Fast & Furious, DC, Wonder Woman, Godzilla, Peter Rabbit, Minions, Kingsman, Spongebob, Poirot, Saw and A Quiet Place; the resurrection of old ones like Bad Boys, Bill & Ted, Legally Blonde, The Grudge, Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, Candyman; and some big swings like “Dune,” “Tenet,” “Uncharted” and “Morbius” will need to perform well in order to keep up with the recent years.
The ‘woe is us’ talk comes as studios all devote enormous resources towards launching their own streaming services with that transition beginning in earnest starting this Fall.