Amazing Kids! Magazine

Superhero Movies Are Only Ones to Overcome the Summer Box-Office Slump

By Sarina Patel, Jr. Assistant Editor and Comic Hub Co-Editor


Live-action superhero remakes like Wonder Woman and Spider Man: Homecoming made a splash this summer…but not in the way you might think.

Wonder Woman was the No. 1 movie of the summer, with $410 million in ticket sales…Spider Man: Homecoming received high scores and drew huge crowds,” Paul Yanover, president of Fandango and owner of movie-critiquing site Rotten Tomatoes, cited in a recent New York Times article.

Both movies were noted as being one of few films to overcome the historic 15 percent decline in box office revenue made this summer. This loss is so massive that slower business in the movie industry can only be found over 20 years ago.

Ideally, summer movies allow friends to come together in an air-conditioned room and enjoy two hours of glamorous special effects, thrilling music, and mind-numbing plot holes. Such components are guaranteed to sell—which is why action movies perform at their peak in the hot weather.

Wonder Woman and Spider Man: Homecoming were expected to do well due to their classic approaches to remaking and new markets. (Wonder Woman = first female superhero to have her own movie. Spider Man: Homecoming = upbeat high school teenager struggles to balance his awkward, nerdy crush on the captain of the science team with saving New York.)

But during the past year, there seemed to be an otherwise chilly reception to action. It extended somewhat to the massively popular sub-genre of superhero movies.

Why aren’t most recent live-action movies flying high with audiences? There are three reasons stripping live-action movies of their commercial box office power: streaming, reviews, and tired tropes.

Streaming is a big reason why movie theaters are losing revenue. Similar to the way Spotify and SoundCloud are pulling money from musical artists (users are not paying the artist directly; they are paying streaming services that oftentimes use the money they receive to do things other than pay artists), efficient streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix provide a wide selection of quality films for a low price—a deal that consumers are just eating up.

People prefer to watch a good movie from a vast selection from the convenience of their couch or the car, with easy access to food and drinks that are not overpriced. The thought process behind it is, “Why spend time getting and paying more money for entertainment when I have it all on my remote?”

It’s this infallible logic that is partially responsible for the decline in public interest in movie theaters and the decline of sales made in movie theaters.

The second cause of the in-theater blockbuster value depreciation exhibited this summer lies in movie reviews. While most movie reviews are taken with a grain of salt, an unflattering review average of, say, 16 percent can alter a person’s perspective about a movie, deterring him or her from wanting to go see it and damaging the movie’s ability to make a profit.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword got a Tomatometer score of 28…audiences stayed away,” an August 2017 New York Times article reported. Clearly, action movies and the wildly popular movie-reviewing website Rotten Tomatoes have not paired well in recent years.

Third: tropes. The action movies, especially in a business as old as superhero comics, are continuously propelled by directors whose camerawork sometimes makes you wonder if they think: The same tricks are cool if you just make the background explode every half an hour.

But audiences have gotten smarter and are now able to categorize these ideas as tired cliches. Put two superheroes together and have them fight each other? Check and check. (Batman v. Superman, Captain America: Civil War.)

Darker, edgier sequels? Check. (X-Men: Days of Future Past. Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)

A villain with an ambiguous backstory and an army of ugly minions? A giant checkmark for almost every Marvel movie currently released. (Bonus points if the villain is from another planet.)

The live-action superhero films of the past five years have hit all these cliches. The good ones, however, are iconic for the ways they flipped the superhero story on its head.

Antiheroes made Deadpool and his team strike a chord with audiences. “[As of May 2016,] Deadpool outgrossed Thor, Captain America, two Amazing Spiderman movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, every X-Men movie, and Batman v. Superman,” reported ScreenJunkies, the production team behind the popular Honest Trailer YouTube videos.

Additionally, superheroes working together instead of alone popularized Avengers. While pitting superheroes against each other is more interesting, a team of good guys working together is more lucrative. Avengers raked in over $623 million domestically and $895 million internationally whereas Batman v. Superman took $330 million domestically and almost $543 million internationally, according to Box Office Mojo’s Total Lifetime Grosses statistics. In the world of superheroes, it’s apparent that nice guys don’t finish last.

Finally, villains with compelling backstories can bring a new element to a black and white story about the boy hero defeating an ugly monster. In Spider Man: Homecoming, the villain is introduced before the hero and appears as a regular man who wrongfully lost his job and has no way of providing for his family.

These are the three reasons why this summer’s action movies are not soaring at the box office. We’ll keep an eye on the sky for any more superhero movies that switch up their strategies to be successful.