If it seems like it's been a blah summer for movies, know that Hollywood's accountants feel the same way. The New York Times reports that this has been worst summer for the film industry in North America since 1997. Ticket sales from May through August are expected to come in at $3.9 billion, down 15% from last year. While movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Angelina Jolie's Maleficient, and Scarlett Johansson's Lucy did relatively well, supposed blockbusters such as Edge of Tomorrow and Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn't meet expectations, and sequels in general didn't seem to have the lure they once did.
Studios will surely counter that ticket sales must be counted worldwide now, not just in North America, but "what they do not often mention is that overseas ticket sales are often less profitable," writes Brooks Barnes. "In China, for instance, as little as 25 cents of every box office dollar comes back to Hollywood; in the United States, it’s 50 percent." So is this a sign of things to come? Don't bet on it, reports Vox, which quotes BoxOffice.com analyst Phil Contrino as saying 2014 was just an off year. "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," he says. "Many of the strongest franchises are lined up for 2015, and 2014 has suffered as a result." (Read more movies stories.)