As the U.S. economy struggles, so to has the Hollywood box-office, with a Summer total of $4.38 billion an increase of less than 1 percent over last year. The worst news is that most of that is made up by more expensive tickets (usually in 3D); raw attendance is projected at 543 million, the lowest since Summer 1997, when 540 million people came to the theater.
“In an economy that has been unfortunately pretty depressing, the marketplace expanded to accommodate big pictures stacked back to back to back,” said Dan Fellman, president for domestic distribution at Warner Brothers.
While Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows — Part 2, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides took in over a billion worldwide, other anticipated films like Larry Crowne, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Mars Needs Moms, Cowboys & Aliens, Zookeeper and Green Lantern underperformed. However, Hollywood did have some good hits that will produce sequels, like Thor, Captain America, The Smurfs, X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
“The lesson for us is that different and original is always hard and always a risk but has great upside,” said Tom Rothman, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment said of the X-Men and Planet of the Apes films. “While both of those films had genetic material in common with their original franchises, both were very, very original pieces.”
The Summer also revealed the importance of international audiences; sequel fatigue comes on slower in China and Russia, with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2 all performing well, with the fourth Pirates film in particular taking in $70 million less in North America than its predecessor, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, but grossing $145 million more than At World’s End overseas.
“America used to set the course — if a movie disappointed here, then it was done,” said Phil Contrino, editor of BoxOffice.com. “That’s simply not the case anymore. America is just another territory now.”
Crude comedies ruled, with The Hangover Part II drawing over $254 million in the U.S. and Bridesmaids being a surprising hit with $281 million worldwide; Bad Teacher and Horrible Bosses also performed respectably. Then again, The Change-Up with Jason Bateman’s cost $52 million to make with significant marketing and managed only about $40 million in tickets worldwide.
Some more old-fashioned, mature films managed to do well for themselves as well; The Help has benefited from strong reviews to take in $122 million, while Woody Allen’s sleeper Midnight in Paris has managed $53 million in tickets. “It’s always kind of funny to see Hollywood surprised that movies aimed at adults succeed in the Summer,” said Contrino. “If you don’t feed them garbage — surprise — they buy tickets.”
Source: New York Times