Movie Attendance Down to Post-9/11 Levels

The tenth anniversary year of 9/11 has been marked by tears, the death of Osama bin Laden, and even a new film about the deadly terrorist attacks — the coming ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. One 9/11 remembrance that was unexpected? Slumping box-office figures, which have seen audiences drop to the lowest attendance levels since the weekends immediately following Sept. 11.

Led by the disappointing returns from ‘New Year’s Eve’ (No. 1 with $ 13.7 million) and ‘The Sitter’ (No. 2 with a little over $ 10 million), ticket sales over the weekend dipped to the lowest cumulative total of 2011. And 2010. And 2009. You have to go all the way back to the weekend of Sept. 5, 2008 to find such paltry figures over a weekend; that’s when the immortal ‘Bangkok Dangerous’ led the box office with $ 7.7 million.

Added together, the first two weekends in December have seen ticket sales totaling $ 158 million, which — divided by the national ticket-price average of $ 7.96 — means roughly 19.8 million have attended the movies since the start of the month. As the Associated Press points out, that’s nearly 2.5 million less people than attended movies in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when 22.5 million consumers saw films like ‘Hardball’ and ‘Glitter’ — the Mariah Carey punchline. If only ‘New Year’s Eve’ had found room for Keanu Reeves.

“It’s unbelievable how bad it is,” box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told the AP, as studio executives likely dove under their desks.

Kidding aside, there is some hope for the industry. ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ is tracking well, and with ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks 3’ and ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ on the horizon, it’s likely that the slumping box office will reignite in coming weeks. Unfortunately, with ticket sales running 4 percent behind where it was in 2010, that might not be enough to save the calendar year.

[via AP]

[Photo: Warner Bros.]

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