Summer movies sizzling for local theaters

The summer movie season is in full swing, and business is booming for local cinemas.

Nick Kostakos, the owner and operator of Elkins Cinema 8, said that on average about 40 percent of the theater’s revenue comes from the summer movie season.

“Summer is when the hits come out,” Kostakos said. “And every summer is different and brings its own surprises.”

So far, this summer has seen some hits with “Fast and Furious 6” and “Iron Man 3,” both of which have received critical and commercial success. Other projected hits for the summer are the Johnny Depp western “The Lone Ranger,” the family-friendly Pixar sequel “Monster’s University,” the zombie epic “World War Z” and the much-anticipated Superman reboot “Man of Steel,” which opens on Friday.

In addition to season, there are other issues that can affect box office sales, such as how a film is marketed, positive or negative critical reviews and the type of content within a film.

“Usually family friendly content, or PG-13 rated titles, do better than R-rated titles,” Kostakos explained.

Kostakos said that other peak seasons for the movie business are Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there are also some anomalies. “The Hunger Games” was a pleasant surprise for both studios and theaters, bringing in summer movie season numbers and breaking records for box office gross for a spring release.

According to Box Office Mojo – a movie website that claims to have the most comprehensive box office database on the Internet – a movie is in wide release “when it is playing at 600 theaters, which generally indicates a nationwide release (the term is short for ‘nationwide’).” A movie is in limited release “when it is playing in less than 600 theaters” or in some venues but not nationwide, the website says.

Distributors contract films to cinemas based on the budget of the film, and projected interest from the public. The distribution of a film determines the size of its release – which explains why more films are shown in more theaters than others. This dynamic explains why, for example, films like Joss Whedon’s recent film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” while getting a significant amount of buzz in some circles on Internet sites and being critically well-received, gets a limited release when opening this weekend, when bigger films like the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn comedy “The Internship” gets a wide release.

Summer has become a time when Hollywood shows off much of its big budget fare, but it’s also a season that lacks variety, and variety is good for business, Kostakos said.

“There’s not much variety in summer,” he said. “It would be mutually beneficial if the studios spread their selection throughout the year.”