The summer box-office season kicked off in May in the US and Canada. And Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword marked the second weekend of the season with a paltry $14.7 million domestic debut. Its $43.8 million in worldwide returns didn’t come anywhere close to recovering the estimated $175 million it cost to make the movie.
It might not be the only royal flop of the summer.
The North American box office is pacing ahead of 2016, so far, thanks to titles like Beauty and the Beast, Logan, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which opened on May 5, but industry insiders predict that won’t hold for long. Many are worried that unwanted sequels, like a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie and another Transformers film, coupled with buzzy TV releases like The Handmaid’s Tale, could keep US audiences away from theaters this season.
Ticket sales from the first weekend of May through Labor Day are forecasted to fall 5-10% from last year, when summer box-office returns reached $4.45 billion in the US and Canada, the Los Angeles Times reported (paywall).
The film slate is partly to blame. Guardians is carrying the North American and global box office right now. But there is a lot of talk of “franchise fatigue” as movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Transformers: The Last Knight, and War for the Planet of the Apes return familiar characters to cinemas once more.
And Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, which made a solid $42 million debut in 34 markets over the weekend, is already trailing its previous installment, Prometheus, in key regions like the UK, France, and Australia. It opens in the US and Canadian this coming weekend, and will need more than the $30 million analysts forecasted earlier this month to dethrone Guardians there.
It doesn’t help that were in the midst of a major month for TV, either.
It’s still early, though, and a lot of movies will hit theaters between now and US Labor Day—Baywatch, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Dunkirk included. Another sleeper hit, like Jordan Peele’s Get Out, could arrive. The upcoming action-comedy Baby Driver scored a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as did A24’s upcoming horror movie It Comes at Night. Either could become the movie of the summer.
If the season disappoints, all hope is not lost for the North American box office, which hit a new high last year. Hollywood will be closing out the year with a series of sequels and remakes—killer-clown horror It, the long-awaited cult sci-fi follow-up Blade Runner 2049, and at least one sure fire hit—a small indie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi.