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2013 Summer Box Office On Track to Be Best Ever, Even Amid Flops and Forewarned Implosion

Box Office
by Tom Brueggemann
August 12, 2013 9:00 PM
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Robert Downey Jr. in box-office titan "Iron Man 3"
Robert Downey Jr. in box-office titan "Iron Man 3"

 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*

2013: $4.15**

2012: $4.28

2011: $4.40

2010: $4.21

2009: $4.33

*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.

Box Office
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  • joes | August 14, 2013 1:11 PMReply

    Two things: 1. The numbers don't reflect ticket price increases, including the ever-exploding "up-charges" for 3D and Lie-Max.
    2. Even so, because there were enough hits and high grossers, Hollywood still won't learn their lesson about these flawed "blockbusters" to be. Sure, studios will think twice about green-lighting a western based on a 50 yr. old TV series again, but, little else will change. You would have to see a summer in which there was flop after flop after flop with NO big grossers. Or, a studio would have to go under.'s TRANSFORMERS PART NINE here we come!

  • Ramesh | August 14, 2013 10:23 PM

    I hereby call upon stan lee to call a ONE YEAR MORATORIUM on the making release, DVD release or other airing of marvel comics films. After this, he should reevaluate what the movies are saying before making new ones.

    Without Marvel comics movies, Disney will go back to trading in preteen flesh, WB to harry potter type authors, Fox to making fun of fat transgender black people (and calling them "comedies") and sony will make walkman again.

    All the hot money that came to steven speilberg from investment bankers will crawl back to whatever hole it slithered out of, and he will have no money to produce junk. (goodbye jj abrams! tear! ) The world will have been saved and everybody will cheer.

    All because stan lee allowed the world to be saved.

  • Anne Thompson | August 13, 2013 9:07 PMReply

    Tom, does $342 million worldwide for $190 million Pacific Rim cover marketing costs? Will it get to $400 million?

  • ramesh | August 14, 2013 4:02 AM

    Sooo....anne, you look like someone knowledgible...can you tell me the 4.15 Bn DOMESTIC gross (not including the the 342 Mm worldwide for pacific rim...) or is WORLDWIDE gross including that?

  • Tom Brueggemann | August 13, 2013 7:56 PMReply

    Ramesh - You only use domestic grosses. It appears that both Pacific Rim and Smurfs 2 will at least break even when all foreign grosses are added. The US is no longer the main market for US films, and it will fall further as time goes by.

  • Ramesh | August 14, 2013 1:52 AM

    How do you think they FINANCE a 190 million Prod & marketing budget? do you think Harvey or rupert writes out checks from his little golden safe behind the Picasso? (ok in Harvey's case its probably a Caravaggio)? not entirely. They sell OVERSEAS in advance..and not for the unholy 347 million dollar collections either. SO when a film opens , overseas is ALREADY GONE (usually). There are only bragging rights.

  • Ramesh | August 14, 2013 1:44 AM

    Tom, That is how this is traditionally calculated. a film's overseas grosses are not figured for the immediate **Studio** profit / loss calculations. I guess backends sometimes include them, but unless the cake is sliced drastically differently these days, overseas grosses are kept out.

  • Brian | August 13, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    I'm clearly missing something here, but the chart at the bottom indicates that 2013 has the LOWEST figure of the five summers listed. So how does that translate into "best ever" and "most robust ever"??? I guess I just want those figures explained better. Thanks.

  • Ramesh | August 13, 2013 2:13 PM

    topline mm loss(so far) mm
    percy jackson 23 70
    smurfs 46 60
    turbo 75 60
    pacific rim 96 100
    RIPD 31 100
    lone ranger 87 130
    white house down 70 80
    after earth 60 70
    In other words these 8 films earned 357 million when they costed a billion dollars. This, was truly the best ever summer of HOLLYWOOD LOSSES . :)=)

  • Ramesh | August 13, 2013 1:55 PM

    These are TOP LINE. Numbers. To get them most summer blockbusters lost Lone Ranger big....

  • Beth Hanna | August 13, 2013 12:05 PM

    @Brian -- The asterisks explain it. The $4.15 billion for summer 2013 is only through August 11, whereas the previous summer totals are through Labor Day.

  • Ramesh | August 12, 2013 10:17 PMReply

    thems not flops them's al capone/ enron style accounting skulduggery ;)

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