Hollywood puts on brave face, after domestic summer box office ticket sales hit 22-year low

Tourists take pictures of the Hollywood sign from a shopping complex along Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, on Aug 3, 2017.
Tourists take pictures of the Hollywood sign from a shopping complex along Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, on Aug 3, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (NYTimes) - Hollywood had a dismal summer at the domestic box office with estimated ticket sales falling to a 22-year low.

But overseas audiences continue to devour what it serves up.

And many studio executives dismiss the recent slump in North America, which remains the world's No. 1 movie market, as a normal part of a cyclical film business.

Box office behemoths, they insist, are just around the corner.

On Friday, for instance, New Line Cinema is expected to blow the cobwebs off theatre seats with It. An adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 novel about a demonic clown, it may arrive to US$70 million (S$95 million) or more in domestic ticket sales, analysts say.

The fall season will also bring potential megahits like Thor: Ragnarok, Blade Runner 2049 and Justice League.

Although an overreliance on superheroes is a perennial analyst worry, the summer months - in one positive development for Hollywood - brought little evidence that moviegoers are tiring of comic-book adaptations.

Indeed, the top three ticket sellers at domestic theatres were Wonder Woman, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Several non-superhero movies also succeeded such as Dunkirk, Girls Trip and Baby Driver.

A single thread ran through each of those successes.

They received euphoric reviews from critics, sending a message that they were high-quality endeavours and thus worthy of a trip to theatres.

More than ever, moviegoers also seemed to decide that most mid-budget dramas and comedies were skippable, at least during their theatrical runs.

Analysts chalked up another group of misfires to franchise fatigue.