Movie fans bought 1.275 billion tickets in 2011, a 4.8 percent decline from the previous year and the smallest movie audience since 1995.
Projected domestic revenues for 2011 are $10.15 billion, down 4 percent from 2010’s, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
This year was the second straight year that domestic attendance declined sharply, and audiences generally have been shrinking since 2002, when admissions hit a modern high of 1.6 billion. In 1995, admissions totaled 1.26 billion.
“There were a lot of high-profile movies that just ended up being a little less than were hoped for,” said Chris Aronson, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox.
Surprise smashes such as “Bridesmaids,” “The Help,” and “The Smurfs” boosted business. But the year was littered with duds (“Tower Heist,” “Cowboys & Aliens”). And with only days left in 2011, Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” is leading a batch of holiday releases that so far has done only so-so business.
“I’m not prepared to be Chicken Little yet,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “But we are living in a different world today than we did in the mid-’90s in terms of the technology available to deliver media. That may finally be having an impact.” AP