Not even Guardians of the Galaxy could save the 2014 summer box office

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Aug 20, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT (Updated)

For a summer loaded with massive blockbusters, the past few months have been fairly ho-hum when it comes to box-office success. Everyone had hoped Guardians of the Galaxy might break the slump, but not even Rocket and Groot could shake up the malaise.

The folks at The Hollywood Reporter have crunched the numbers, and even with Guardians’ breakout success and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' surprisingly strong opening, it still won’t be enough to come close to matching last year’s numbers.

If not for Guardians, this awful year would’ve been a legit train wreck of momentous proportions. This summer box office was tracking to hit a 20 percent drop when compared to last year, but the surge brought on by Guardians and TMNT pushed that down to a more manageable (but still substantial) 15.3 percent decrease. Ouch, but admittedly not double ouch.

To put all that into perspective, revenue from May 2 through Aug. 17 is $3.699 billion, compared to $4.367 for the same period in 2013, according to Rentrak. Prognosticators are doubtful this summer can even crack $4 billion, and nothing short of a surprise breakout success over the next few weeks could save it from an eight-year low. Last year's summer set a record at $4.75 billion, with $4.28 billion in 2012, $4.4 billion in 2011, $4.22 billion in 2010 and $4.33 billion in 2009.

So, what’s the problem? Despite the fact that we’ve had should-be blockbusters like Amazing Spider-Man 2, Age of Extinction, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Maleficent all performing relatively well, none of them have had the staying power to crack the $300 million benchmark domestically. If that doesn’t happen, this’ll be the first time since 2001 that it hasn’t.

Call it blockbuster overload — just when one might be gaining momentum, two more massive movies open a week or two later and siphon off some of that thunder. Plus, you know, not all those movies were actually that good. As Rentrak box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian notes, the hits in August just go to show the effect that just two movies can have on the “ups and downs” of the summer box office.

But, as encouraging as the past few weeks have been, it’s still not enough to stave off some record drops. What do you think has been the problem with this summer’s box office?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)