Monday, December 27, 2010

A Bad Year at the Box Office

The final numbers aren't in yet, but The New York Times is reporting:
North American attendance for 2010 is expected to drop about 4 percent, to 1.28 billion, according to, which compiles box-office statistics. Revenue is projected to fall less than 1 percent, to $10.5 billion. It has been propped up by a 5 percent increase in the average ticket price, to $7.85, thanks to 3-D.
Last January, I posted this chart from Deadline Hollywood:

If the numbers are correct,the number of tickets sold is lower than it has been in any year since 1999. Revenue is down as well, even with the average cost of a ticket rising from $7.46 to $7.85.

This implies that the bloom is off the 3-D rose. There have been more 3-D films released this year, yet fewer people are willing to pay to see them. While this doesn't imply the impending death of 3-D, it does imply that 3-D's novelty has worn off. Its revival was just a blip, not a sea change; it will no longer increase box office revenue on its own.

It also shows that Hollywood has gone too far in raising ticket prices. While it is understandable that ticket sales should fall during a recession, they have fallen lower than the earlier years of this recession and lower than they've been in more than a decade. Time will tell if this is a trend or just an aberration, but it is something that Hollywood should worry about. A downward trend in attendance is the last thing the film industry needs.


J Casual said...

I overheard my daughter-24- convincing her significant other, not to go to the movies, but to stay in and watch the Sopranos. Anecdotal, but telling.

Michael Sporn said...

When, as in TANGLED, 3D diminishes the viewing experience (see any critic's review) why would anyone want to pay $5 more for that ticket?

All 3D grays the color and luminence of the film. It's not worth the cost - unless, of course, you're seeing AVATAR when there is no other positive except the 3D.

Rod Araya said...

Well, as I can see, the movie business has been also affected by the slow, but strong reemergence of inflation, signaling a new slowdown on economy (return to Wikipedia and search "Box-office bomb" and its causes) Not only on receipts, also in the studios themselves. We all remember MGM's recent bankruptcy, news about the future of Leslie Nielsen's last film role and the fact that WB Animation hasn't announced more 3D Looney Tunes cartoons for theatres in 2011 (despite "Coyote Falls" is one of the three strongest contenders for

P.S.: Inflation is the main candidate for the "party-pooper" of 3d film, as people soon won't be willing to pay so much for the same film which is shown with brighter and much more vibrant colors for much less.

Robert said...

Lessee... ticket prices going up... attendance going down... theatrical release window getting shorter... home video prices falling...

In the future, a blockbuster film's boxoffice take will consist of the sale of exactly one $230,000,000 ticket ($1000 plus $229,999,000 for the "enhanced theatrical experience") and everyone else will watch it later that afternoon for free on the HD display tatooed on the back of their hand.

Wade said...

I love of seeing movies in the theater, but for several years now I've only gone on cheap nights (Tuesdays in my area) when tickets are half price, and I avoid 3D whenever possible (i.e. if there is an option between 2D and 3D versions). And honestly, if they switched to 3D for everything, as much as I enjoy the theater experience I would probably just stop going altogether.

Nancy said...

My sister explained to me that it cost her up to $75.00 to take a family of four to the movies (and that was a few years ago.) She waits for the films to come out on DVD.
3D movies are expensive whether they are in theatres or at home. 3D televisions are not selling. I feel that animated films do best in 3D, but they will play in limited release, while the bulk of a film's profits will come from Netflix or digital discs.

Nancy said...

"Two areas saw growth in 2010, and both were intertwined. Animation business was up 16 percent over 2009 to $1.49 billion, while movies presented in the 3D illusion surged to $3.27 billion (an estimated $2.1 billion of which from 3D alone)."
Animation is a success, and I think that animated films are more suitable for 3D presentation than live action films.