As Box Office Sputters Toward Christmas, Can Ticket Sales Rebound?

Night at The Museum Secret of

Hollywood isn’t feeling particularly festive with Christmas just around the corner.

Despite a massive debut for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” and the openings of two big-budget movies in “Annie” and “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” ticket sales this weekend were down more than 4%. Year-to-date the movie business is off by more than 5% from 2013’s record breaker and may have a tough time catching up to 2012’s figure.

“To not have seen an uptick last weekend is disconcerting,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations.

This weekend is the fifth straight that grosses have lagged behind those of the previous year. Bock believes some of the downturn is attributable to too much of the same.

“If you look at this weekend, we had two sequels and a reboot,” Bock argued. “People don’t like what Hollywood is offering. They want original content.”

In the case of the third “Night at the Museum,” that meant an opening that trailed the previous film in the series by more than $30 million.

There are still more films yet to hit, but analysts say upcoming releases such as “Unbroken,” “Into the Woods” and “The Gambler” will pale in comparison to last year’s yuletide contenders — a group that included “American Hustle,” “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Anchorman 2.”

“It was a bit of a hard luck year,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “We just need to lick our wounds and move into 2015.”

A lot of things didn’t break the movie business’s way over the last 12 months. The death of Paul Walker pushed the release of “Fast and Furious 7” out of the summer and into next year, Pixar was forced to delay the debut of its big film “The Good Dinosaur,” and July 4th fell on a Saturday instead of on a week day, preventing the business from prolonging one of the biggest moviegoing times of the year.

That’s to say nothing of the threats of violence that surrounded “The Interview,” forcing Sony Pictures to yank the R-rated comedy out of its Christmas Day slot and casting a pall over moviegoing.

There are some reasons to be hopeful, however. Opening weekends tend to matter less for films that debut in December because there are so many people on vacation. That improves weekday ticket sales substantially.

This year, there are more films hoping to capitalize on school vacationers, such as “Annie,” “Into the Woods” and the latest “Night at the Museum,” as opposed to last year, when “Frozen” was pretty much the only game in town for tykes and teens.

“There’s not a huge rush out mentality with [family films],” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “We’ll have to wait and see how they perform in that golden period between Christmas and New Years.”

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  1. srvwp2013 says:

    The Entertainment Industry, as well as many other industries in America is on its last legs. During each passing year, it has swirled further and further down the toilet bowl. Forget about Golden Ages. When a Stone-Age civilization, such as North Korea, can further corrupt an already corrupted industry with ease, the writing –whether scratched in stone or in cyber– is well on the wall. For decades all Hollywood has needed is honest exposure, investigation, lifting of the curtains, illumination and enormous doses of reality, and this does not mean “reality TV” or shows such as “The Real World,” or The Real Housewives,” etc.

    The Entertainment Industry has finally actually been called out, called to account. In some ironic manner the presence of Barack showing up in all those luxury backyards collecting millions of greenbacks has helped to shed light on how unsavory Hollywood is. Hollywood is probably the least productive industry in America. Hollywood money certainly did not help the cause of any Democrat on any ballot in 2014. If anything it only helped to discredit Barack and continued to discredit itself.

    We do not wish to censor art, but the current art of the Entertainment Industry is artifice. Hollywood and The Industry must be overhauled, reformed, rebuilt, renovated, re-populated with human beings who actually have brains and can think and imagine and create. The so-called present “titans” of The Industry are very small people indeed. In any other industry they would be pink-slipped and immediatelyy sent “down the road.” If Barack wanted to call anyone out in his 6 to 8 years, it should have begun with those who have influenced the decline of culture in America.

  2. GKN says:

    Yes a bit of originality would be worth going to see. I have absolutely no interest in seeing any of those films, nor does anyone I know.

  3. LOL says:

    Americans don’t want originality. Neither do foreign audiences. It’s a simple fact that cinema is losing its importance. There’s too much other stuff occupying our time.

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