Huffpost Entertainment

Film Industry Has Worst Summer Since 1997

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It's not just you. Nobody has seen a good movie lately.

Or at least if they have, it isn't in a theater. Ticket sales to movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada are expected to sink to about $3.9 billion, a 15 percent decline when compared to summer of 2013, according to box office company Rentrak. In July, box office sales were down 30 percent, the New York Times reports.

For the first time in 13 years, no summer film netted $300 million in ticket sales domestically. Not even Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy," the highly-anticipated superhero film that led this summer's box office sales, could save the summer. And as Vox notes, a dry summer is an especially hefty hit. Summer is when the film industry banks on people heading to theaters, typically producing the greatest months of ticket sales.

It wasn't just the summer's top-selling flicks that disappointed. Flops were plentiful. Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables 3," the star-studded "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," the critically-touted "Edge of Tomorrow," "How to Train Your Dragon 2," and Cameron Diaz's saucy "Sex Tape," all fell short of expectations. And don't forget about the sequels! The summer had plenty of them, but audiences weren't having much to do with them. Sales to "Transformers: Age of Extinction, "Planes: Fire & Rescue," "Think Like a Man Too," and "Amazing Spider-Man 2" saw declines in sales compared to previous summer's installments, the New York Times reports.

Analysts had predicted a drop due to new entertainment options such as online streaming, marquee television events like the World Cup, and scuttled movie release plans. But the worst summer in box office ticket sales since 1997 caught analysts and the industry off guard. "It's a noticeable difference," Phil Contrino, the chief analyst at BoxOffice.com told Vox, adding, "We really needed more films that ended up in the $80 million-$150 million range domestically. That would have helped compensate for the tentpoles that ended up underperforming slightly."

While the film industry may try to brush off the poor showing with the argument that the movie making business is more concerned with global markets these days, overseas sales don't pack the box office punch of domestic sales. The New York Times notes that in China, Hollywood sees as little as 25 percent of box office sales, compared to 50 percent from sales in the U.S.

Is the dearth of summer hits a fluke? "The movie industry is cyclical, and we're definitely in a down year, but that has a lot to do with the fact that 2015's slate is so impressive," industry analyst Contrino told Vox. "Many of the strongest franchises are lined up for 2015, and 2014 has suffered as a result."

But does that mean movie goers will lineup? Or are they already settled in to stream "Game Of Thrones" from the comfort of their own couch?

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