While many people view summer as the time to relax, go on vacation and get some sun, this time of year is also known for another reason: its massive blockbusters. Many big studios take advantage of the time when kids are off of school to release some of their biggest box office draws in order to get the largest profit they can, which is why so many massive movies tend to be released between May and August. However, for whatever reason, these summer blockbusters seem to be getting worse and worse every year.
This year, a majority of the summer blockbusters have been major let downs. Movies like Men In Black: International, Shaft, Anna, Ma, Dark Phoenix, The Dead Don't Die and Godzilla: King of the Monsters were all met with horrendously negative reviews from critics and audiences alike. We've only seen a few decently good summer blockbusters so far this year, and most of them were creatively helmed by Disney. Even so, not even every Disney blockbuster has been that great this year (we're looking at you, Aladdin).
Not every summer blockbuster is great every year, as each summer is filled with a variety of good and bad flicks, but in recent years, it has felt like the bad movies outweighed the good. The summer market for movies has definitely been decreasing in quality, and it seems audiences are finally starting to notice. The box office revenue of summer 2019 is 7% smaller than this point last year, which is actually a pretty massive drop. Overall for this year, the box office numbers are 10% smaller than what they were for 2018. While a portion of this can be credited to the rise in popularity of streaming services, there's also enough evidence to show that a good portion of this drop is simply due to lack of interest in movies that don't really look that good.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a good movie to look at to represent what this year's summer box office has become. While the movie had a great first week, once word got around that the movie really wasn't that great outside of the excessive CGI, audiences seemed to lose interest. King of the Monsters only earned $107 million in the United States, which is not that much for a movie with a $170 million budget.
The biggest issue that has caused the decline in summer blockbusters can be credited to one thing: audiences and studios are no longer on the same page. After the success of movies like Avatar and Transformers years ago, studios told themselves that an overwhelming number of moviegoers wanted to see movies with bland stories and great CGI. Unfortunately, as the CGI has improved over the years, the stories in these movies have managed to get blander. Alas, the actual box office hits for this year show that narrative is now just as important for drawing in audiences as the visuals. The biggest hit of this year has undoubtedly been Avengers: Endgame which, outside of some massive visual effects, had a lot of character work, with much more character development and story than the likes of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Men In Black International. While the effects and massivity of the movie certainly drew people in, it was the narrative and the characters themselves that convinced audiences to come see it a second time, which was not the case for the likes of Godzilla.
Disney is already a powerhouse in the film industry, now making up about 40% of the business, but their biggest strength seems to be their ability to make blockbusters narratively interesting, whereas every other studio seems to make their blockbusters less and less interesting.The 7% box office drop reported by Variety seems to show that this is detrimental both for audiences and for the studios, as audiences lose interest in movies with bad stories, which loses money for the studios. Hopefully this will change in the coming years, but the pattern right now shows each collection of summer blockbusters somehow being worse than the last.