2016, the summer of failed blockbusters

Every summer, there’s that movie, the one everyone talks about and makes billions of dollars at the box office. But which movie is “the blockbuster of the summer” this year when there have been so many flops? 

It's been widely accepted in the media that this has been one of the worst summers in recent history for the big studio's.

Movies released during the prime time of the summer months like Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad haven’t reached blockbuster status, despite being part of hugely popular franchises.

But maybe the concept of a “summer blockbuster” isn’t as relevant as it used to be.

Deadpool was released in the middle of February and it made over $1 billion worldwide. Meanwhile, The Legend of Tarzan was released during the July 4 weekend — generally considered the best weekend to release a movie — and it only made just over $350 million, as of this article.

Studios have historically relied on the pull of holiday weekends to sell movie tickets, but with the continued dominance of streaming services like Netflix and Shomi, timing movie releases just doesn’t matter as much.

Who cares if a movie is being released in theatres during a holiday weekend if you can watch it whenever you want at home?

Similarly, the oversaturation of blockbuster movie releases has made it difficult to capture moviegoers’ attention. Every week this summer, there has been a new release with a killer cast, a big name director and a bloated budget.

It's become crucial for studios to instead find new ways of capturing their audience’s attention. Deadpool did it with a marketing campaign that pushed the bounds of creativity, reviving the age-old billboard strategy with posters of obscene emojis and even using Deadpool on Tinder.

Likewise, when Chris Pratt captured audiences’ hearts everywhere by stopping mid-interview to braid an intern’s hair, Jurassic World benefitted.

Jurassic World also benefitted from nostalgia:everyone who fell in love with the iconic Jurassic Park went to go see its sequel. In theatres, we got to see Chris Pratt build on his newly minted reputation for being a great action star, a reputation he earned after starring in another blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy.

What Deadpool, Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy have in common is they stood out even before they were released and lived up to it after.

Yes, my social media feeds were flooded with nothing but news about Deadpool for weeks before the movie came out. The same happened to me with Guardians of the Galaxy.

It would be easy to say that being the movie the Internet talks about is the ticket to success. But this summer, that trend didn’t seem to hold true.

Suicide Squad also dominated social media feeds, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice blew up Twitter when it was released.

The difference is the type of attention both movies got. The studios behind both movies failed to manage expectations when it came to those films.

Many people thought Suicide Squad was going to be the next Avengers, and when it wasn’t, audiences were disappointed. Likewise, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was supposed to be a fun superhero movie, but instead we got a dark and brooding character who met another dark and brooding character … and no one cared. Their box office sales inevitably suffered, showing why managing those expectations is so important.

So what makes a summer blockbuster stand out? A viral interview, a funny billboard, an old concept made new again — it’s everything all at once. 

It happened for Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, and Jurassic World in 2015; looks like we’ll just have to see if 2017 can revive the summer blockbuster.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.