by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Hollywood's summer cinema is known for its adrenaline-pumping, popcorn-munching blockbuster fare - the bigger, the better - and the concurrent spike in ticket sales that accounts for up to 35 percent of the industry's annual take. But this summer's total gross might fall short of that mark as box office revenues took a dip down to 4.32 billion U.S. dollars, a 2 percent decline from the same period last year, according to U.S. media measurement and analytics company Comscore.
Disney was the undisputed king of the domestic summer box office, with "Lion King" roaring to first place with 524 million dollars, "Toy Story 4" skipping across the finish line with 431 million dollars, and "Aladdin" magically transported to 354 million dollars. All three grossed in excess of one billion dollars worldwide, with "Lion King" topping out at 1.5 billion dollars.
Their monster hit, "Avenger's Endgame" that has grossed almost 2.8 billion dollars worldwide, debuted in April prior to the official beginning of summer, but roughly half of its 858 million dollars domestic gross rolled in during the summer, upping the Mouse House's summer takings to over 40 percent of the total box office - a hefty haul for just one studio and perhaps a harbinger of things to come as Disney continues to flex its franchise muscles.
By the end of July, Disney had taken in a record-shattering 7.67 billion dollars worldwide in 2019. The previous annual industry record of 7.61 billion dollars was set by Disney itself three years ago.
Three of the other big Hollywood studios, Universal, Warner Bros, and Sony, fielded two pictures each that crossed the 100-million-dollar mark: Sony's "Spiderman: Far from Home" (386 million dollars) and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," (131 million dollars) Quentin Tarantino's ode to Tinseltown; Universal's "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw" (159 million dollars) and "The Secret Life of Pets 2" (157 million dollars); and Warner Bros' "Pokemon Detective Pikachu" (144 million dollars), based on the Japanese megahit Pokemon game; and "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" (110 million dollars), yet another take on the early Japanese monster thriller series.
Though snapping up respectable sums, the branded franchise pics, "Godzilla" and "Secret Life of Pets 2" were considered underperformers, as were the sequels, "Men in Black International" and "Dark Phoenix," the latest and purportedly final installment in the X-Men series. Other sequels that might fare better are the August openers, "The Angry Birds Movie 2" and the third in the Gerard Butler starrer franchise, "Angel Has Fallen," which are only halfway through their runs.
Paramount narrowly missed blasting their way into the 100 million dollar club with "Rocketman," their Elton John musical bio pic, falling just shy at 96 million dollars, but they have a glimmer of hope for their Aug. 9 opener, the live-action action-adventure pic, "Dora and the Lost City of Gold," based on the hit Nickelodeon animated TV series "Dora the Explorer."
Other disappointments included, Melissa McCarthy's dramatic turn in the Warner Bro/New Line pic, "The Kitchen" (11 million dollars); and United Artist's "Where'd You Go Bernadette" (8.48 million dollars), starring Cate Blanchett; and Universal's underperforming sequel, "A Dog's Journey" (22.5 million dollars) with Dennis Quaid.
Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" proved that a well-crafted, auteur drama can still wow cinephiles the world over and there were other happy wins, like Universal's "Good Boys" (60.2 million dollars) an R-rated coming-of-age movie and WB's latest installment of their "doll-to-die-for" franchise, "Annabelle Comes Home" (72.7 million dollars).
Lionsgate proved itself the plucky mini-major that could, when in addition to their hit, "John Wick 3", they fielded two other films that earned triple their budgets, "Longshot" (30.3 million dollars), and "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" (59.3 million dollars).
Netflix and the other streamers may have taken a bite out of the indie market which had little to boast of this summer. Though they inspired heavy bidding at their film festival debuts, many critically-acclaimed indies were unable to lure viewers off their couches and into the theaters.
Festival favorites like "Booksmart" (22.6 million dollars) and "Blinded by the Light"(10.7 million dollars) fell short of box office expectations.
The post-summer, pre-holiday season will need to pick up the slack and is shaping up nicely with several likely hits waiting in the wings: such as Disney's super cool, "Frozen 2"; more adventures in gaming with Sony's "Jumanji: The Next Level," and everyone's favorite creepy clown in WB's "It: Chapter Two," not to mention Disney's Fall releases of the Angelina Jolie starrer, "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" and yet another Star Wars prequel, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."