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Hollywood bracing for its worst summer at the box office since 2000 as experts predict $1B falloff

This summer’s movie season is poised to generate the lowest grossing box office in decades — with experts predicting a nearly $1 billion falloff from last year’s $4.1 billion haul because of a lack of blockbusters.

The dismal, $3 billion forecast is fueled by last year’s Hollywood labor strikes that halted production, pushing back new film releases. Disney will not release a Marvel movie until July — the first time the superhero franchise won’t hit big screens in May since 2009.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the summer film season — which runs from the first weekend in May through Labor Day — routinely exceeded the $4 billion mark.

Last year, the success of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” helped generate in $4.1 billion during the key period, which typically accounts for 40% of the total annual receipts.

However, the first major film released this May, Universal’s “The Fall Guy,” had an underwhelming opening weekend. The action film, starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, brought in a paltry $28 million.

The weak opening does not bode well for other non-Marvel films slated to premiere in the coming weeks, experts said.

Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Comscore, told CNBC that this year’s summer box office could generate $800 million less than last year.

Even with the inevitable year-over-year revenue downturn, the summer of 24 should be judged more by the quality and value of the moviegoing experience than the quantity of box office cash in the drawer, Dergarabedian said.

The last time ticket sales were as low as $3 billion during this season was in 2000, according to data from Comscore.

Other films in the pipeline this month include Disney’s “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” which debuts Friday. Ryan Reynolds’ kid-comedy “IF” hits theaters on May 17, while “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” and “The Garfield Movie” are both due out on May 24.

Marvel fans, meanwhile, will have to wait until late July before the release of “Deadpool and Wolverine.”

The film, starring Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman, is Marvel’s first-ever R-rated flick, possibly hampering its box office.

On Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger said it will release no more than three Marvel movies and up to two Disney+ shows each year as it focuses on quality following criticism that the company has been cranking out too many mediocre superhero flicks.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who plans to release a fourth installment of “Bad Boys” on June 7, agreed.

People just want to be entertained, Bruckheimer said. It really comes down to us to make the right movies that they want to go see.

The slowdown from the Hollywood strikes pushed back highly anticipated films such as “Mission: Impossible 8,” “Captain America: Brave New World” and “Thunderbolts,” to next year.

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