A Slow Summer Blockbuster Season Is Hurting the Movie Industry (but Not Too Much)

Headlines across the media are forecasting the doom of the movie industry, but it's way too soon to write a eulogy just yet. In this clip from Industry Focus: Consumer Goods, host Vincent Shen and contributor Asit Sharma look at the numbers from the box office for this summer and 2017 so far, and what they mean for the industry as a whole.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Aug. 15, 2017.

Vincent Shen: So far in 2017, to give our listeners an idea of what's going on, Asit, can you give us a quick rundown of the industry revenue year to date, and some of the big titles that have been leading the box office?

Asit Sharma: Sure. I gathered some data from Box Office Mojo, which is a great source to go to if you want a quick view of what the movie industry is doing. The domestic industry, the gross box office receipts to date as of Aug. 13 are $7.18 billion. That's about 4.3% off last year's pace. That's a significant drop off when, as you said, Vince, you have to have both ticket sales and these increasing receipts, increasingly expensive ticket prices, to maintain a similar take as the last year.

Places were led by Buena Vista, which is Disney (NYSE: DIS) Studio, Beauty and the Beast, of course, $504 million year to date. No. 2 is that film that I want to catch, Wonder Woman, $402 million. Now, I'm going to read for listeners the next three for a reason. There's Guardians of the Galaxy, it's $389 million take year to date; Sony's (NYSE: SNE) Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is $306 million; and Despicable Me 3, which is Universal's film, $248 million. If you add these five films together, you come up with $1.85 billion, and that's 25% of total box office receipts to date this year. So five films make up one-quarter of total receipts.

I was surprised to see this when I came across the stats, because you hear, if any of our listeners hear box office receipts through the year on public radio, or read about it in the paper, that this industry depends on blockbuster films -- that's, in large measure, true. A certain part of the revenue, in fact, the foundation of it, is built on just a few films each year. One film can make a difference between that 4.3% we were just mentioning from the prior year, which surprised me. I don't know, Vince, if that's something you were familiar with, or took you by surprise as well?

Shen: I think the big thing to note is, the first movie, Beauty and the Beast, the second one being Wonder Woman, and then the other three were all sequels, franchise installments. But, the idea being, these are all established properties and IP that are able to get audiences into theaters. Once again, we have Walt Disney leading the major studios in the box office, in terms of box office receipts. It was the same in 2016. Universal and Warner Brothers are trailing closely. Though the summer season has been particularly weak, the actual results, as you mentioned, are only off from last year by about 4%.

Asit Sharma has no position in any stocks mentioned. Vincent Shen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Time Warner. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.