Despite hits such as the Walt Disney Co.'s "The Lion King," Hollywood's summer had a lower roar than last year.
Ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada are projected to total $4.33 billion for summer movies, down 2% from a year ago, according to data firm Comscore. The decline reflects a number of major flops, such as Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" and 20th Century Fox's "Dark Phoenix," that outweighed hits including Pixar's "Toy Story 4" and Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man: Far From Home."
So far this year, ticket sales have reached $7.64 billion, representing a 6.4% decline from the same period a year ago, Comscore said.
There are multiple explanations.
Box office results are largely cyclical and depend on the quality of the movies, but analysts have also placed some blame on other factors. Films have to compete with a growing number of at-home entertainment options, including streaming services, making it harder for all but the most crowd-pleasing blockbusters to get attention. The market for adult-oriented midbudget movies and art-house films has been especially difficult for theater owners and distributors, with bombs including Amazon's "Late Night," Annapurna Pictures' "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" and Fox's "The Art of Racing in the Rain."
Additionally, last year's sales may have been boosted by MoviePass, the subscription service that let subscribers see an unlimited number of films in theaters for a low monthly fee. The service collapsed as it lost money and as theater owners bet on their own subscription services.
The main winner among the studios was Disney, which again dominated the summer with brands that audiences were already very familiar with, including "The Lion King," "Aladdin" and "Toy Story 4." However, there were some non-Disney franchises and originals that worked, such as Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," released by Sony, and Lionsgate's "John Wick: Chapter 3 _ Parabellum."
Still, even Disney wasn't immune to summer struggles, as the Fox titles it inherited from its recent $71.3-billion acquisition bombed, weighing on its quarterly earnings. "Dark Phoenix," the latest in the X-Men saga, resulted in an impairment charge for Disney.