This year, for the first time since 2002, Hollywood’s box office revenues for July failed to hit the billion dollar mark. June managed to make just over $1 billion, but totals were still down 16 percent from 2013.
The fourth Transformers movie was supposed to save Hollywood’s summer in America, but it only pulled in about $245 million—easily the lowest in the franchise’s clattering, baffling history.
The numbers all add up to a few truths that will shape the way Hollywood makes movies in the future. The first is that Hollywood is losing its grip on America, and nobody can quite figure out why. The public says they’re tired of sequels and reboots, but they failed to show up for this year’s attempts at fresh, original films like Tom Cruise’s well-reviewed sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow and Chris Evan’s moody, dystopian epic Snowpiercer. The only thing that continues to work—albeit in lower numbers than they used to—are superhero movies and CGI-fests. Case in point: Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pulled Hollywood’s summer out of its tailspin.
But Hollywood is still pulling in billions of dollars—they’re just getting it from different places. America may be getting tired of Hollywood’s tricks, but U.S. films are doing record-breaking business in China, where Transformers: Age of Extinction became the country’s highest grossing movie of all time, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow, Maleficent and other movies that did modest work stateside pulled in serious money, as well. Not coincidentally, both Transformers and X-Men featured Chinese actors and settings—Hollywood knows how to capitalize on an interested market.
So, the long and short of it is that Hollywood may be losing America, but as long as money continues to pour in, it may not particularly care.
###China’s Highest-Grossing Films of 2014
Transformers: Age of Extinction (U.S.): $301 million
The Monkey King (China): $168 million
X-Men: Days of Future Past (U.S.): $116 million
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (U.S.): $115 million
Where Are We Going, Dad? (China): $112 million