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Summer movies are a bust at the domestic box office

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If you haven’t been to the movies yet this summer, you’re not alone. So far, the biggest releases of the season have been flops at domestic box offices. Studios are coasting on international ticket sales, blaming bad reviews and sites like Rotten Tomatoes for the dwindling U.S. numbers. 

The year as a whole has been a hard one for movies released in the United States despite a few bright spots, like the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast.” Originals “Get Out” and “Baby Driver,” have done comparatively well, bringing in larger audiences despite the fact that they are frequently shown on fewer screens and produced for less money. 

One thing is clear though: With few exceptions, American audiences aren’t showing up for franchise movies in the numbers studios would like. This summer has seen the reboots of “The Mummy,” which has grossed only about $77 million domestically so far, but $377 million worldwide, and “Baywatch” ($57 million domestic, $153 million worldwide).  

“Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Transformers,” which are in their fifth iterations, have been relative busts when you consider their large budgets. “Pirates” has grossed $167 million domestically and $712 million worldwide; “Transformers” has made $111 million domestically, $450 million worldwide.

While international box offices, particularly in China, are keeping the studios afloat, the bad movie pattern isn’t sustainable. International viewing preferences and habits are constantly changing. 

The blockbuster certainly isn’t dead — just look at “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”  —  but it’s getting harder for studios to make a film stand out.

David Sims, senior editor at The Atlantic, joined Marketplace Weekend to discuss the bad movie problem and how to solve it. 

To listen to the full interview, tune in using the player above. 

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