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B.O. on record pace in 2012

Despite recent sag, the year is still tracking ahead of 2009

Despite a four-week losing streak at the domestic box office, year-to-date totals are still pacing ahead of 2009, the record-holding year, by almost 3% — and a lengthy list of high-upside year-end titles suggest a new benchmark in the making.

From Jan. 1 through Sunday, Stateside B.O. reached $7.924 billion, a 2% lead over last year’s $7.763 billion year-to-date tally; at this time in 2009, domestic totals were $7.716 billion.

The recent mopey market gave up some of the lead for 2012, which was kickstarted by a boffo first quarter. Totals for this past weekend, at just north of $90 million, trailed the same frame last year by approximately 24%, marking the biggest year-over-year discrepancy since the B.O. began its downward slide Labor Day weekend.

Winning this past weekend, Open Road’s “End of Watch” made an (albeit small) contribution toward righting the frame by earning slightly more than previously estimated at $13.2 million.

The box office shouldn’t be depressed for too much longer, however.

“Hotel Transylvania” and “Looper” are tracking nicely ahead of Friday, when they bow alongside Fox’s “Won’t Back Down,” possibly providing a launchpad for a fall B.O. resurgence.

Through the end of the year, domestic B.O. needs to accumulate $2.251 billion to match last year’s $10.174 billion total. And to tie the $10.596 billion bar set in 2009, the domestic box office will need to tack on $2.672 billion.

This season’s biggest potential moneymakers, including the “Twilight” finale, James Bond pic “Skyfall” and the first “Hobbit” installment, each have tidy comparisons by which to gauge their potential domestic grosses. For instance, the penultimate “Twilight” pic, “Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” boosted last year’s totals with $276.1 million; “Quantum of Solace,” which launched in November 2008, earned nearly all of its $168.4 million domestic cume during the same year it was released.

Takeaway: If this year’s potential seasonal all-stars play similarly to comparative pics, the combined B.O. might from those films alone would account for nearly half of what 2012 needs to become a record year.

Then there’s other such hopeful year-end hits as Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity 4,” the Weinstein Co.’s “Django Unchained,” Disney’s “Frankenweenie,” Par-DreamWorks Animation’s “Rise of the Guardians,” Fox’s “Life of Pi,” Disney-DreamWorks’ “Lincoln” and Universal’s “Les Miserables.”

Potential specialty breakouts include Fox Searchlight’s “The Sessions,” Summit’s “The Impossible” and Focus Features pair “Anna Karenina” and “Hyde Park on Hudson.”

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