The final results are in for the month of July, and they aren't pretty.
Domestic box office revenues totaled $966 million, which is down a massive 30 percent from last July. This also marks the first time since 2002 that the month of July fell short of $1 billion.
The 30 percent year-to-year decline is the steepest drop in Box Office Mojo's database, which dates back to the early 1980s. The only rival is January 2011, which was off 29 percent (thanks in no small part to Avatar's impact on January 2010).
What explains this historic decline? Simply put, it can be chalked up to an abnormally weak lineup of movies that weren't appealing enough to get people in to theaters. Nothing performed on par with Despicable Me 2, The Dark Knight Rises or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and nothing was expected to, either. Moviegoers aren't just going to show up out of habit—there needs to be something worth seeing.
The problems began over the Fourth of July weekend. Assuming that Transformers: Age of Extinction would be much bigger than it was—an incorrect assumption, given the poor reception of the last two installments—the studios avoided scheduling any heavy hitters over the holiday. While Tammy managed to do fine, Deliver Us From Evil and Earth to Echo couldn't find an audience, and overall business wound up down 42 percent year-to-year. It was an uphill battle from there, and it took the entire month to recover.
On their own, though, many of the movies in July did well. The big winner was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which earned $180.6 million in its first three weeks. In just 19 days, it out-grossed predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which makes this one of the biggest success stories of the Summer.
After almost an entire month in theaters, Tammy has earned just shy of $80 million. While that's not on par with Melissa McCarthy's 2013 comedies, it's still a strong number considering the movie was almost entirely reliant on her (considerable) star power. Lucy was also a major success, earning $61.3 million through just a week in theaters. Even if it falls off hard in its second outing, the Scarlett Johansson sci-fi action movie will almost certainly earn over $100 million by the end of its run. The Purge: Anarchy grossed $57.4 million through two weeks, and is going to wind up earning more than the first Purge ($64.5 million). That's an impressive result, given the poor reception that first movie received.
The rest of July was a mixed bag. June holdover Transformers: Age of Extinction added $128.4 million during the month; while that sounds like a lot, it pales in comparison to what the previous installments in the franchise were earning. Overall, the movie will wind up below $250 million at the domestic box office—that's over $100 million lower the last installment in the franchise. Of course, it's on track for around $800 million overseas, so no one is losing any money on this. Planes: Fire & Rescue took in $41.2 million in its first two weeks, and is going to close well below its predecessor ($90.3 million). Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Hercules (2014) banked $41.6 million in its opening week; while it could have been worse, it also ensures that the movie misses $100 million in the U.S.
There were a handful of flops as well. The biggest bomb of the month was Sex Tape, which earned $30.4 million in its first two weeks. The movie is falling off fast, and is going to close below $40 million; in comparison, Cameron Diaz's last comedy, The Other Woman, is wrapping up with nearly $84 million. Meanwhile, Earth to Echo and Deliver Us From Evil earned $36.5 million and $30.3 million, respectively.
Overall, Summer 2014 is now down 19 percent year-to-year. While August should be strong, this is still poised to be the slowest Summer since 2006. Meanwhile, year-to-date box office isn't looking good either: through the end of July, total domestic box office was down seven percent.