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And That's Terrible

Theaters Saw Worst Summer Sales Since 1993 Despite Billion Dollar Blockbusters Like TDKR & Avengers

Just yesterday we told you Joss Whedon’s The Avengers pushed past the $1.5 billion dollar mark for global ticket sales. Today, we’ve found out Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises has officially become the 11th film to cross the billion dollar mark. Theater owners must be very happy, right? Wrong. Apparently 2012 has had the worst summer for ticket sales since 1993. 

So what’s the story here? Let’s talk about this TDKR news first.

“The studio is waiting for China’s grosses to announce it officially today. But the Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ Batman trilogy finale from Christopher Nolan has hit a milestone believed out of reach just a month ago,” writes Deadline. ”Despite the tragic start of its run in North American theaters, The Dark Knight Rises has now grossed $431.4 million domestic and $577.7 million international for a total $1.010+ billion through Sunday.”

And in case you were wondering, these numbers put TDKR ahead of The Dark Knight, which also made just over a billion when all was said and done. Deadline also discusses the historical nature of the sales.

Meanwhile Warner Bros is insisting that TDKR is only the 11th film to reach $1 billion in its original theatrical run – not the 12th as some charts show. Because the studio is refusing to count any asterisk-worthy extra grosses from 2D films released theatrically years later in 3D like Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. (I happen to agree… so that’s why Deadline also is counting this as only the 11th.) In terms of just 2D films, TDKR moves even higher in the rankings to 5th place since all the others benefited from 3D premiums.

But all of that money, coupled with The Avengers’ $1.5 billion wasn’t enough for a truly successful summer film season.

“According to preliminary estimates, 533.5 million tickets were sold this summer, down 4 percent from last year and the worst turnout since 1993. The lowest attendance before now came in summer 2010, when there were 534.4 tickets sold,” writes The Hollywood Reporter. “Total summer revenues also slipped. Initial estimates show the domestic box office generating $4.278 in billion in sales, down roughly 3 percent from last summer’s record $4.4 billion.”

THR seems to attribute these numbers to the severe high/low of the summer season mentioning such bombs (relatively speaking) as BattleshipRock of AgesDark ShadowsAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,  and Total Recall.

As far as the entire year is concerned, with a few months left to go, the box office is doing better than 2011. “While summer box office revenues are down in North America, the year overall is still running ahead of last year, thanks to a strong winter and spring,” says THR. “Yearly revenues are roughly $7.5 million, up more than 3.3 percent over last year.”

(via Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter)

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  • Anonymous

    It costs too much to go to the theater now days. I’ll just buy the DVD (about the cost of 2 tickets).

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. The sad thing is, the studios are stuck on the “more is more” mentality. They will probably respond by making more blockbusters, then rise the price some more to make up for the extra-cost. It’s a spiral of stupidity.

  • Lindsey Stock

    I’m too damn stingy to go to the movies. It actually causes me severe physical pain to waste $10 just to sit in a big dark room and watch a movie, so on the few occasions when I do, it had better be a damn good movie (I only saw Avengers and TDKR this year, so I wasn’t disappointed, but still…that shit is expensive. And don’t even think about getting concessions!).
    I usually end up waiting for something to come out in the dollar theatre.

  • Razor

    I’ve never understood why $10 to watch a $200 million movie on a massive screen with top of the line sound is considered to be some exorbitant fee.

    Now, $6 for a bag of Skittles, that’s a rip-off, but movie ticket prices seem reasonable to me. Hell, it used to cost $4 to rent a movie at Blockbuster and watch it on a 20-inch TV.

  • Razor

    I’ve never understood why $10 to watch a $200 million movie on a massive screen with top of the line sound is considered to be some exorbitant fee.

    Now, $6 for a bag of Skittles, that’s a rip-off, but movie ticket prices seem reasonable to me. Hell, it used to cost $4 to rent a movie at Blockbuster and watch it on a 20-inch TV.

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I’ll always try to catch a film during matinee hours now because tickets are far too much. In New York City, prices are up to $14 a ticket now, which is very disheartening considering the quality of a lot of films from the past couple of years. I think a lot of people have taken the matinee road as well

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    The theatres made over a billion dollars and that’s not good enough? Astonishing.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    Fair enough–as long as you live somewhere where it’s only ten bucks, and if you don’t have to, say, pay for your kids’ tickets too. In Toronto, it’s at least $15.00 just for the ticket. And even where I live where the movies are astonishingly cheap, two things at the concession puts you back at least six bucks, and those are the cheap things like the smallest drink size. I was astonished to see parents who had two kids and bought them both large Slurpees and popcorn after the tickets–I’m sure all four of them could have eaten out at one of the nicer restaurants around here for as much as what they spent.

    So, sure, it can definitely be worth it if the movie isn’t disappointing, but I think a lot of people are making it a once in awhile special occasion, like going to a local theme park.

  • Gledster

    So basically what this is saying that they made more money from fewer ticket sales. I’m worried that the message theater-owners will take from this is “Surely we can nudge the prices up a little more and make even more money?”

  • Razor

    Yeah, I would imagine it gets pricey with kids.

  • Kate

    It is for people on a SERIOUS budget. I’m a grad student and every freakin’ cent I earn I need to keep track of. I cannot shell out $10 every time there’s a movie that I think I *might* like. I only go to 1 or 2 movies a year, and those are sure things. Even then, I’m getting less and less enthused about it because people tend to be very rude/disruptive in theaters (talking, texting, etc.). I’m NOT going to pay 10-12 bucks to listen to you chat to your BFF.

  • Anonymous

    I live in Atlanta and for the 4 of us in my family it EASILY costs $54 ($12 for child’s tickets??? WTF?) for an evening showing of the latest ‘must see in 3D’ flick. Add consession snacks/drinks and Hollywood is asking me to make a choice between paying a bill or giving them money.