Variety reports that the 2013 domestic summer box office is on track to be the most robust ever, despite the multiple would-be tentpoles that crashed and burned (amid Steven Spielberg's much-repeated soundbite of industry "implosion").
Domestic totals are estimated at $4.15 billion, through Sunday, August 11. This is 12% ahead of this time in 2011, which itself tallied a previous landmark of $4.4 billion for the entire summer.
Three factors though make any final assessment of the summer premature:
-- The budgets for the summer films, based on industry estimates (not always accurate) for the 32 films released wide since "Iron Man 3" on May 3 also are about 11% higher than those since last summer. Also, there were three more films this summer so far, with each release having its own additional expense, raising the total costs for the summer.
-- This figure doesn't include foreign totals, which lag a bit behind domestic figures, including several films which at this point have opened domestically and at this point either only partially or not at all in foreign markets. That performance more than domestic will determine how good this summer has been.
-- The decent summer has managed to bring the year to date domestic box up to near parity (through yesterday down 0.1%) from 2012. This is a big improvement since the end of April, when it was down 14% (over $400 million at that point). To its credit, the summer did change the trend that, had it continued during the summer, would have been disastrous. But 2013, with its more expensive lineup, still doesn't look quite as rosy as the seasonal recap so far indicates.
Juggernauts like "Iron Man 3" and "Despicable Me 2" were ultimately able to make up for box-office flops "The Lone Ranger," "R.I.P.D.," "After Earth" and "White House Down," though as we've pointed out before, in terms of studio write-offs, a hit shouldn't be paying for a bomb.
Still to come as the season winds down are "Kick Ass 2," "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "Paranoia" and "Jobs."
Take a look at these domestic summer box office numbers for the past five years:
Summer Box Office*
*in billions of $
**estimate through Aug. 11
We'll be back with a full recap, including international numbers and a film by film assessment on Labor Day Weekend.