The Film Industry Just Had Its Worst Summer In 17 Years

Big-name sequels couldn't pull the movies out of their biggest summer slump since 1997.

By Sasha Geffen

Even with the megaplexes packed with big-name sequels, Americans just didn't seem to be going out to the movies this summer. The film industry has reported its worst numbers since 1997 as August draws to a close, according to the New York Times.

Between the first weekend in May through Labor Day weekend, box office revenues from movies in the United States and Canada have seen a definite drop from last year. This summer's ticket sales added up to $3.9 billion, 15 percent less than sales from the same time period in 2013.

Why the dip? It seems like opening weekends for the biggest summer blockbusters just haven't been seeing as big of a turnout as usual. The number crunchers at Vox.com added up the top opening weekends for the biggest summer movies of the last few years, and they found a $40 million difference between last summer and this one. In 2013, the opening weekends of the 11 top summer flicks earned a total of $877 million. This year, that number slumped to $833 million.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" scored the biggest numbers of the summer with a $100 million opening weekend, followed closely by Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" with just under $100 million and the new "Godzilla." But all three of this summer's top movies underperformed 2013's hottest flicks: "Iron Man 3" opened with a $173 million weekend, while the latest Superman movie "Man of Steel" came away with $116 million.

Could it be that American audiences are just sick of sequels? Of the ten biggest-selling summer movies, only number ten, "Neighbors," featured an original story. Everything else, from "Maleficent" to "How to Train Your Dragon 2," built on an established franchise.

Maybe Hollywood's top screenwriters will have to start coming up with some new ideas if they're going to tear people away from their Netflix queue.