Box-office ends summer with whimper

A scene from The Dictator.

A scene from The Dictator.

MICHAEL RECHTSHAFFEN, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:21 PM ET

Talk about starting out with a bang and ending up with a whimper!

Or, to put it another way more in keeping with the summer 2012 box office trajectory, starting out with The Avengers and ending up with The Oogieloves.

So how did Hollywood go from hero (The Avengers generated a record-shattering $200.3 million opening weekend on the way to a $1.5 billion worldwide haul) to zero (the kid-oriented Oogieloves had the worst opening ever for a wide release)?

For starters, the first part of the equation has a lot to do with the industry summer practice of top-loading product.

As in previous years, the majority of the season's most anticipated movies were trotted out in quick succession over the first half of the summer.

And, for the most part, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Brave, Madagascar III, Men in Black 2 and Ice Age: Continental Drift did as well as if not better than anticipated.

They were even some pleasant surprises along the way, especially Ted ($216 million to date) and Magic Mike ($113.4 million).

Initially their success was able to distract from the colder, harder fact that the release roster was also weighed down by a particularly high number of serious underperformers, like Battleship, Rock of Ages, Dark Shadows, the costly Prometheus and a slew of comedies including The Dictator, The Watch and That's My Boy.

But if the studio folks weren't laughing then, along came the month of August and the likes of The Bourne Legacy and The Expendables 2, which did OK but fell well short of what their predecessors collected.

What was missing from the August line-up was the sort of under-the-radar sleeper hit that took the form of a Rise of the Planet of the Apes or that first Expendables outing in previous summers.

While some in the industry would like to put the blame on the London Olympics for the lackluster movie theatre turn-out, they'd probably be wiser to look to their own development rosters for a clue as to what happened.

If you truly gave the people what they wanted, they might have shown you some Oogielove.

 


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