It's only just the start of the summer box office season, and already it's looking like a record-breaking year for films, thanks to a slate of tried-and-true franchises re-appearing at the cineplex.
With "Avengers: Age of Ultron" out of the gate with the second biggest opening weekend ever - it made $191 million in its debut weekend, just shy of the first "Avengers" film in 2012 - 2015 could be a windfall for film studios, and the reason will be the reliance on brands with proven staying power.
"We could potentially be looking at a record with maybe the first 5 billion dollar summer ever," says Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst for Rentrak.com, which tracks movie ticket sales. He said that this summer might make up for the 2014 summer season, which lagged behind 2013 in ticket sales. "2015 is back with a vengeance, and I think clearly, with that second biggest opening weekend of all time, with 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' to kick off this summer, I think that's why I'm thinking that we could have that record summer in 2015," he said.
In addition to "Avengers," other franchise films premiering this summer include "Jurassic World," the fourth installment in the "Jurassic Park" films, the fifth "Mission Impossible" film ("Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation"), and reboot of the "Fantastic Four" film series. Dergarabedian says the strategy of bringing back popular film premises and characters is nothing new for film studios.
"It seems that the summers where you have the biggest box office are the summers where we have the most sequels," he says. "Audiences feel very comfortable spending their hard-earned money on something that they know and love. They know the characters, they know the basic situation, plot lines, and that instills in audiences a level of comfort so they're willing to spend that hard-earned dollar."