The Mayans were off 3 years

By Karsten Burgstahler

2015 could be the last stand for blockbuster-heavy Hollywood

I usually don’t like to predict a movie’s box office success before it comes out. There are simply too many unknowns: reviews could come back negative. Another movie from previous weeks could sweep over it. Hollywood is a fickle beast.

So perhaps I’m crazy for writing a column about summer 2015. But I want to break my own rule just this once.


Between the months of May and August 2015, the world will see sequels to “The Avengers,” “Jurassic Park,” “Man of Steel,” “Independence Day,” “The Smurfs,” and, most likely, “Star Wars.” Plus there will be spinoffs of “Despicable Me” and “Terminator” as well as films based on existing properties like “Assassin’s Creed.”

I could go on about how Hollywood has lost originality but that’s pretty much a lost cause at this point. I think summer 2015 will bring about the burst of what I call the blockbuster bubble.

Take a look at this summer’s numbers. “Iron Man 3” was incredibly successful, earning more than a billion worldwide. But “Star Trek into Darkness” disappointed, “The Hangover Part 3” tanked and almost no one recognized “Red 2”’s existence.

The biggest issue here is how much money these movies must make to be profitable. Warner Bros. honcho Jeff Robinov predicted “Man of Steel” would be his company’s biggest movie ever, which would mean it would have to top the more than $1.3 billion dollar gross of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” the end to an established franchise adored by millions. “Man of Steel” came off of 2006’s “Superman Returns,” which underperformed. Robinov actually announced his resignation from Warner Bros. a little more than a week after “Man of Steel” opened. For the record, “Man of Steel” never reached Robinov’s expected heights.

This summer also brought another big movie story. Directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas announced their position on the blockbuster. Spielberg, the man credited with creating the summer blockbuster “Jaws,” said he thought within the next few years different movies will cost different prices based on their popularity. For instance, “Lincoln” would be normal ticket price but “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2” would cost up to $20. Spielberg said he had to fight to get “Lincoln” made because the studio worried about its prospects.

Once again, Spielberg, one of the most celebrated directors of our time, had to fight to get a pretty much guaranteed Oscar nominee made.

Hollywood is trapped in a vicious circle. In order to survive they must spend millions on films that won’t actually be profitable unless they gross more than a billion worldwide. In order to produce anything else, they have to keep making these guaranteed franchises, which is why the “Fast and Furious” franchise appears as if it will go through installment number nine.


Summer 2015 is the culmination of this ridiculous outpouring of successful franchises. And if ticket prices continue to climb and Hollywood continues to push 3D, audiences are going to rebel. Event films are like a drug, addicted audiences rush out and make the opening weekend numbers explode. Then the films drop hard, leaving audiences to look for the next big thing.

Normally these franchises are still fresh in our memory when they release new installments. But was anyone jonesing for a new “Independence Day?” It’ll have been six years since “Terminator Salvation” came out when the new installment hits theaters. It will have been 14 years since “Jurassic Park III” when “Jurassic World” comes out. By trying to squeeze even more franchises into the summer, ones that audiences haven’t seen in years, studios are going to see their numbers adversely affected by bad movies people wasted their money on. Moviegoers have to pick and choose.

There’s still time and Hollywood will continue to move around dates —

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” has already been pushed from 2015. My hope is studios will take a step back and slow down. Money can be made off of smaller productions that develop through word of mouth. However, if the schedule remains the same and all of these movies hit theaters in 3D, 2015 could change the way studios look at blockbusters forever.