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

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood August 12, 2013 at 9:00PM

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.
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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.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.