Movie Crowds Dip to 16-Year Low

AP:

A solid summer lineup helped studios catch up to 2010, but ticket sales flattened again in the fall and have remained sluggish right into what was expected to be a terrific holiday season.

The result: projected domestic revenues for the year of $10.15 billion, down 4 percent from 2010’s, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com. Taking higher ticket prices into account, movie attendance is off even more, with an estimated 1.275 billion tickets sold, a 4.8 percent decline and the smallest movie audience since 1995, when admissions totaled 1.26 billion.

“There were a lot of high-profile movies that just ended up being a little less than were hoped for,” said Chris Aronson, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox, whose sequel “ Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” has been part of an under-achieving lineup of family films for the holidays. “The fall was pretty dismal. There just weren’t any real breakaway, wide-appeal films.” …

Hollywood is left right where it was 12 months ago, finishing the year quietly and looking ahead to a promising lineup to turn its fortunes around next year.

Even more so than 2011’s schedule once looked, the 2012 film list looks colossal. Among the highlights: the superhero tales “The Dark Knight Rises,” ”The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Avengers“; the latest in the animated franchises “Ice Age” and “Madagascar,” along with “Brave,” the new adventure from animation master Pixar; Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ “Men in Black 3“; Daniel Craig’s new James Bond thriller “Skyfall”; Johnny Depp’s vampire story “Dark Shadows”; Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” a cousin to his sci-fi classic “Alien“; and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first in a two-part prequel to his “Lord of the Rings” films.


That’s just a small sampling of 2012’s big-screen titles, which also include 3-D reissues of “Titanic,” ”Finding Nemo,” ”Beauty and the Beast” and “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”

Looking ahead, there’s good reason for optimism in Hollywood. Looking back, though, the past year spells caution.

“I’m not prepared to be Chicken Little yet, but if the films coming in 2012 can’t reverse this trend, then I think we need to reevaluate our expectations,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Full story here.

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