ByS.C. O'Donnell, writer at
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S.C. O'Donnell

Labor Day weekend marks the end of the summer blockbuster season in America, and it’s usually the last big push at the domestic box office before Oscar season officially kicks off. Unfortunately, 2017’s Labor Day weekend box office numbers were abysmal, which capped off the worst domestic summer haul since 2006.

Labor Day Weekend 2017's Domestic Box Office Numbers

The Hitman's Bodyguard [Credit: Lionsgate/Summit]
The Hitman's Bodyguard [Credit: Lionsgate/Summit]

Over the 4-day weekend, the combined domestic box office of all 46 movies in theaters only reached a total of $95.5 million. This marks the first time the domestic box office has failed to crack $100 million over Labor Day Weekend since 1999, with a staggering $32.8 million drop from 2016’s haul over the 4-day weekend.

The top twelve films in wide release only grossed a combined domestic total of $51.5 million, which is the lowest it’s been since 2000. Only one film, The Hitman's Bodyguard, broke the $10 million mark over the 4-day weekend, which is impressive since it's the film's third week of release. It is of note that no new films (in wide release) premiered over Labor Day Weekend, which could account for lower numbers at the box office.

The top five films at box office for the 4-day Labor Day Weekend were as follows:

1) The Hitman’s Bodyguard - $13,375,000 2) Anabelle: Creation - $9,305,000 3) Wind River - $7,950,517 4) Leap! - $6,585,064 5) Logan Lucky - $5,649,651

Why Was The 2017 Domestic Summer Box Office The Lowest It Has Been In Over A Decade?

The 4-day Labor Day weekend added little bank to the estimated $3.5 billion total domestic box office for the entire summer, which is the lowest take since the summer of 2005. The 2016 summer domestic box office topped out at $4.3 billion, so in one year, the summer box office has dropped $750 million domestically.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why this summer’s box office has been so lackluster, because there are many variables that need to be considered. This summer boasted many hit films that crushed at the box office, including the top three films: Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (which grossed $1.1 billion combined). However, even the tent-pole superhero blockbusters couldn’t save the summer.

One reason the domestic summer box office is on the decline could be that huge blockbuster films aren’t reliant on the summer anymore. The Star Wars franchise has been dominating December in the past few years, and with Star Wars: The Last Jedi on the way at the end of this year, the franchise will surely crush the numbers yet again.

Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios both have giant tent-pole franchises coming out in November with Justice League and Thor: Ragnarok, and if they were released in the summer months, they would have probably brought this year’s haul closer to last year. A great example of non-summer box office smashes is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which grossed over $500 million and was released in March.

Most of the highly-anticipated movies for 2017 were/are slated for non-summer release dates, and it definitely showed in the domestic box office. Another factor could be domestic flops like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Mummy, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, all of which boasted large budgets but only grossed around $160 million combined.

This summer also premiered several films from long-running franchises, such as: Despicable Me 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Transformers: The Last Knight. The third Despicable Me film grossed $109.2 million less than the previous film in the franchise, and the Pirates and Transformers franchises followed suit grossing $68.7 million and $115.2 million less than the previous film in their respective franchises. This trend could suggest franchise fatigue, but it could also be that the films in the franchise are getting worse.

The truth is that there are probably many reasons for the dwindling domestic summer box office, and all of them played a hand in the low totals for 2017. Luckily, there are still a few landmark films slated to be released this year that may help offset the lowest domestic box office take in over a decade.

Sound off! Why do you think the domestic box office was so low this summer? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below!

(Source: Box Office Mojo)


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