Why Was June 2013 The Biggest June Ever At The Box Office?

"Man Of Steel" Japan Premiere
"Man Of Steel" Japan Premiere / Jun Sato/GettyImages

June is technically the month when summer as a season starts on the calendar. However, when it comes to summer moviegoing, June is practically the halfway point for this lucrative corridor of the annual box office. Traditionally, the summer moviegoing season begins the first weekend of May and ends whenever Labor Day weekend occurs. This puts June smack dab in the middle of the season, making it a juicy spot to launch a big hit movie. All-time big blockbusters like Incredibles 2, Jurassic Park, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, among many others, were released in this month.

Even given the deluge of blockbusters that have opened in this month, though, one June in particular towers over all others in terms of monthly domestic grosses. June 2013’s $1.282 billion monthly gross is the biggest single-month gross ever for June (not adjusting for inflation). It’s a massive sum that narrowly edges out the $1.280 billion haul of June 2018 and leaves months like the $1.003 billion haul of June 2023 in the dust. It’s clear the raw numbers behind June 2013 are impressive. But how did this month become such a massive box behemoth?

2013 was aided by one simple thing: a ton of movies in the marketplace. Even just in terms of holdovers, June 2013 was flooding with movies. May 2013 had already been a juggernaut in terms of delivering box office hits and those titles kept on chugging throughout May 2013. Memorial Day weekend 2013 alone delivered three big tentpoles (Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover: Part III, and Epic) that all made at least $33.3 million in the ensuing month. As for releases debuting in June 2013, a variety of big hits dropped in the month. This crop of newcomers ensured there was always something new at your local theater and that there was actual variety on the big screen.

Just look at the second weekend of the year, which housed the first DC Extended Universe title, Man of Steel. That heavily-promoted blockbuster was handily the highest-grossing title of June 2013 with a $248.5 million haul in this month alone. The same weekend people could watch Henry Cavill snap Michael Shannon’s neck, This is the End opened in theaters. This comedy didn’t just begin an odd trend of movies from cis-het artists being obsessed with the idea that Channing Tatum could be gay. It also provided perfect counterprogramming to a grim PG-13 superhero movie. With two vastly different features in the marketplace, the box office prospered. The June 14-16, 2013 weekend brought in $192.9 million alone, a spectacular haul. Most impressively of all, that wasn't the biggest weekend in June 2013!

That honor belonged to the June 21-23 frame where another two major polar opposite titles debut. Monsters University and World War Z both opened this weekend and each grossed $66+ million a piece (University even cleared $80 million). A G-rated animated kid’s movie and a sweeping epic about Brad Pitt fighting zombies could coexist without a problem. With Man of Steel making another $41.2 million, three separate movies made over $40 million in one weekend, a staggering sight. The entire weekend grossed $228.5 million and, much like that Man of Steel/This is the End showdown, demonstrated the power of counterprogramming. Two separate Barbenheimer-esque duels had bolstered the June 2013 box office to incredible heights.

That’s a tactic that used to be common practice in Hollywood. As late as the early 2010s, The Last Airbender opened against The Twilight Saga: Eclipse without batting an eye. Why wouldn’t Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Sisters open on the same day as Star Wars: The Force Awakens? There was always an understanding that multiple movies could exist peacefully simultaneously in the marketplace. However, as the 2010s went on, Hollywood stopped making mid-budget movies that could compete directly with larger tentpoles. It also became common practice to basically just empty out the weekends surrounding any potential box office juggernauts, like Captain America: Civil War or Joker.

This practice gradually decreased the number of typical movies playing at one’s local theater. Worst of all, it sank the box office when a potential blockbuster flailed out. When titles like Solo: A Star Wars Story, Birds of Prey, or Shazam! Fury of the Gods came up short at the box office, there were no competing titles to help pick up the slack. If one title failed, the entire marketplace went south. June 2013 showed the value of having multiple movies on the table rather than putting all your eggs in one enticing basket. No wonder the month was historically massive in the history of June’s.

Even the flops of June 2013 couldn’t drag the month down. After all, underperformers like The Internship and After Earth still made a little over $40 million domestically during this month. Plus, sleeper hits like The Purgeand Now You See Me (the latter of which made $94.7 million in June 2013 alone) helped make up for box office misses like White House Down. That Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx action movie got outgrossed in the final weekend of June 2013 by the considerably cheaper comedy The Heat, which cleared $41 million in its domestic frame. It was another lucrative debut that nicely wrapped up all the riches of June 2013.

This historic month was a microcosm of just how big 2013 was for Hollywood in terms of box office accomplishments. 2013 as a whole year grossed $10.887 billion and sold 1.339 billion tickets. That's the second-highest ticket sales of the entire 2010s, only behind 2012. Raw yearly grosses would get even bigger for the remainder of the decade (peaking with the $11.9 billion haul of 2018), but 2012 and 2013 would forever be the peak of movie attendance in the decade. Meanwhile, June 2013 was a critical factor in the summer of 2013 becoming the highest-grossing summer of all time at the domestic box office. With $4.754 billion, summer 2013 was the highest-grossing summer by a massive margin. The second-highest grossing, summer 2016, grossed $4.491 billion by comparison, roughly $260 million less.

There’s no magical formula for why summer 2013 was so massive. When you offer a lot of movies that look appealing to the public, the box office goes up. June 2013 alone offered R-rated comedies, zombie features, superheroes, Pixar shenanigans, and wacky cops (among other premises) to entice people into their local Cinemark. It also didn’t hurt that there were some original features (like The Heat, Now You See Me, The Purge, and This is The End) offering breathers to franchise fare like Man of Steel and Monsters University. Embracing constant counterprogramming and a wide array of motion pictures, that’s how you craft the biggest June ever at the box office.

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