Christin Bale in the Dark Knight

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

And That's Terrible
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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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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."