Summer 2013 is fast becoming known as ‘The Summer of Doom’ as far as the movie box office is concerned. Official figures are reporting that U.S audience attendances are down 19% on 2012, and experts are already seeing smoke. Speaking at a University of Southern California event with George Lucas in June, Steven Spielberg remarked that “there’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm”.
A massively overcrowded season of releases has perhaps jaded audiences. If you look at sci-fi releases alone we’ve had Oblivion, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, After Earth, Man of Steel, World War Z and Pacific Rim in as many months. I’m ashamed to say I’ve seen them all (bar the Will Smith-starring atrocity that is After Earth) and none of them are worth writing home about, or even forking over £8 to watch at the cinema. It’s safe to say paying customers avoided a large majority of these titles, with a significant percentage of them underperforming. Of course you’ve had your success stories in there too – Iron Man 3 taking a whopping $407 million and the latest instalment on the Fast & The Furious franchise making god money too. Depressingly these are both sequels in popular franchises and if you look at the release slate for next year, you’ll see Hollywood is playing it safe – Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Thor 2, Fantastic Four 3 and a reboot of Godzilla.
Opening this week in the UK is the reboot of The Lone Ranger. The Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp-starring blockbuster is already going down as the highest profile victim of the Summer of Doom. Budgeted at $225m, the film, directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer has been met with pretty hostile reviews and estimated losses are already being predicted at around the $200m mark. The stars of the film are blaming the critics for thrashing it; the critics are bashing the filmmakers for making a bloated and unwelcome reboot of a franchise that has lain dormant for years. I’ll probably go and see it when it comes out just to see what the fuss is about. To be honest, I can’t see it being worse than any 2 hour plus arse-numbing car-wreck I’ve already sat through this summer.