American Movies Post Worst Box Office in 15 Years

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It was anticlimactic that “The Hitman’s Body Guard” topped the box office for the second weekend in a row. It brought in a tiny $10 million. The top 10 movies based on domestic gross brought in less than $50 million, which has not happened in 15 years. It puts a part of the entertainment industry, already under siege from new technologies and producers outside the traditional studios, in a progressively worse position.

According to Box Office Mojo:

No need to sugar coat it, this was a miserable weekend. The combined gross of the top twelve failed to total over $50 million, something that hasn’t happened in an August weekend in over 20 years. In fact, the combined $49 million for the top twelve is the worst since the top twelve combined for $43.5 million in late September 2001. Making matters worse, with next weekend seeing no major, new wide releases things aren’t going to improve until It arrives on September 8.

Keeping things to this weekend, The Hitman’s Bodyguard finished in the top spot for a second weekend in a row with an estimated $10 million.

“It” is a horror movie about to be released by the Warner Bros division of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX).

Things could be worse for the movie theater business, but not much. Movies are now being produced by companies as disparate as Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). Top directing and acting talent has been hired by the companies to create exclusive content. In the meantime, more traditional cable networks like HBO are also producing their own feature films.

And films produced by this new “generation” of studios are not released in movie theaters. Most are streamed directly over the internet to people who buy them individually or as parts of a package like Amazon Prime.

Movie theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) posted horrible earnings early this month. Its stock was gutted. That sort of trouble has just begun for the century-old business of running theaters people actually go to so they can see a movie on the big screen.