Summer blockbusters like "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Jurassic World" helped drive domestic box-office earnings to $4.48 billion from May 1 to Labor Day weekend, according to industry research company Rentrak. That's impressive, but still falls short of 2013's record-setting $4.75 billion season -- and industry officials' hopes. Some outlets reported that Hollywood hoped to break $5 billion in summer 2015.
Animated features, sequels and comic book flicks did particularly well. Some, like "Jurassic World," "Inside Out," "San Andreas" and "Straight Outta Compton," outdid projections by millions, or tens of millions. (The dinosaur epic was only projected to bring in $125 million its opening weekend; it scored over $200 million.)
Others, of course, flopped. "Fantastic Four," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "Entourage," "Magic Mike XXL" and "Aloha," among others, all faced disappointing receptions. Indie films, Variety reported, struggled to find audiences, too.
It was a bad summer for research-based predictions. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that tracking data "malfunctioned weekend after weekend, appearing altogether broken." And it seems we can all blame -- or thank (?) -- social media.
"This was a summer completely designed by reviews and word-of-mouth," Paramount's president of global distribution and marketing told The Hollywood Reporter. A senior media analyst at Rentrak told Variety that Twitter and Facebook have an "immediate impact" on ticket sales.
“A film has to fire on all cylinders in terms of social media in order to work," the analyst said. Indeed, "Aloha" has a paltry 19 percent crowdsourced approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Fantastic Four" has just 9 percent. (And may have been sabotaged by its director's own tweet.)
A few studios, though, have reason to celebrate Summer 2015. Of Hollywood's six major studios, the season was a big success for Universal and Disney. Together, The New York Times reports, they owned 60 percent of the summer movie market.
The rest of 2015, however, looks bright with the upcoming and highly anticipated releases of "Spectre" (Sony), "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" (Warner Bros.) and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Disney).
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