If box office revenue is the indicator to go by, this year's summer season failed to deliver the right dose of movie magic.
Domestic revenue for the period was down approximately 15%, despite franchise-building hits from Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Viacom. Industry watchers and analysts had expected a soft performance, but the results were worse than anticipated.
Some of the most glaring box office misfires came in the form of midbudget oddities. Indian-American joint venture Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return had a reported production budget of $70 million and landed to deafening silence, grossing just over $17 million globally since its May 9 release. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For was reportedly made for about $65 million and has grossed less than $30 million internationally since opening Aug. 22, a performance that threatens to bankrupt one of the effects studios that worked on the film.
These films are certifiable flops, but they weren't responsible for sinking this summer's box office ship. Let's look at the season's three biggest losers, and what summer performance meant for DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX.DL), and Sony (NYSE:SNE).
How to Train Your Dragon 2
DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2 was supposed to be a pivotal release for the company, and a belief that the movie was a contender for the summer's top-grossing film spot was not uncommon among box office prognosticators. It didn't quite work out that way: Despite generating approximately $609 million in global ticket sales on a production budget of $145 million, the Dragon sequel was a major disappointment for DreamWorks.
Leading into Dragons 2's June 13 release, shares of DreamWorks Animation traded at approximately $28. A weak domestic opening for the film caused the company to lose roughly 9% of its valuation. The stock has yet to recover from the Dragons disappointment.
The sequel was expected to solidify Dragons as the company's next big property, but it failed to deliver growth in line with that high-flying aim. Using figures unadjusted for inflation, DreamWorks' own Shrek series delivered ticket revenue growth of approximately 90% between in its first and second entries, while Universal's Despicable Me 2 grossed approximately 79% more than its predecessor. Relative to expectations, How to Train Your Dragon 2's roughly 23% growth wasn't good enough.
Edge of Tomorrow
Made on a hefty $178 million production budget, Edge of Tomorrow's approximately $29 million opening weekend in North America suggested a flop of massive proportions. Solid foreign performance allowed the film to scrape together a global total of approximately $369 million, but the pic was still a loss for Warner, and one of the season's biggest commercial misfires.
Consider that the company has attempted to give the movie a soft rebranding months after its theatrical debut, favoring the title Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow for home video releases and new promotional materials, and the extent to which the movie disappointed starts to become apparent. The movie's best chance at breaking even or achieving profitability is the home market, but swapping titles has the potential to create confusion and added promotional expenditures. Interestingly, Edge was actually titled All You Need Is Kill less than a year before its eventual release, making it clear that Warner had significant difficulties marketing the project. The movie's faltering was even more significant in light of Warner's decision to delay its Jupiter Ascending picture from July to February.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
With a worldwide gross of approximately $708 million, Sony's Amazing Spider-Man 2 stands as the year's fifth-highest grossing movie. The film reportedly had a production and marketing budget well above $400 million , but the massive expenditure wasn't enough to deliver a winner for Sony. The movie failed to match the $758 million earned by the first film in the Amazing series, making it the lowest grossing of Sony's five Spider-Man films.
Making matters worse, Amazing Spider-Man 2 was supposed to be the foundation for an expanded film universe built around the property. Disappointing box office totals and lackluster audience reception for the picture caused Sony to shuffle its film slate. Amazing Spider-Man 3, once scheduled for a 2016 release, is now slated for 2018. Spinoff film Sinister Six will now land in Amazing 3's initial release year, but prospects for a fourth mainline Amazing film are shaky.
There's always next summer
While Warner's summer saw Edge of Tomorrow disappoint and Jupiter Ascending delayed, DreamWorks and Sony suffered bigger setbacks in the season. Each company saw one of their most important properties underperform, and these disappointments have significantly affected expectations for the studios. By comparison, Warner endured an undesirable summer stretch, but its cache of viable film properties mitigates the severity of its stumbles.
Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.