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Box Office Slump 2011: Ticket Sales Drop to 16 Year Lows, International Numbers Increase

For Hollywood in 2011, it was the best of times and the worst of times. Internationally, the film business was booming: according to estimates, studios earned $ 13.53 billion overseas in 2011, an increase of 6 to 8 percent from 2010 and a new all-time record. Unfortunately, that success didn’t extend to U.S. shores: ticket sales dropped to 1.28 billion in 2011, the lowest total since 1995. Thank goodness for increased prices and 3D surcharges!

Because of the higher costs, revenue in 2011 will only dip 3.5 percent from where it was in 2010 ($ 10.2 billion from $ 10.58 billion), but that still doesn’t show an industry in some distress. This will be the seventh straight year that ticket sales have declined since the high of 2003 (that was the year ‘Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ruled the box office).

According to the Los Angeles Times, total box-office per film dropped some 13 percent in 2011, because — as research indicates — people are more inclined to wait for movies to hit DVD and video on-demand services.

“Younger people who are image-conscious don’t want to talk about movies that are a week old,” said Ben Carlson, president of social media research firm Fizziology to the Times. “If you don’t see the movie at that first moment, then the desire to see it begins to fall away.”

Of course, the movies themselves could also be blamed. The top seven films at the box office in 2011 — ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,’ ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon,’ ‘Breaking Dawn Part 1,’ ‘The Hangover Part II,’ ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,’ ‘Fast Five’ and ‘Cars 2’ — were sequels, while ‘Thor,’ ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Captain America’ rounded out the list, films which could hardly be called originals. Might U.S. audiences be revolting against unoriginality? Unfortunately, it likely won’t matter: with foreign grosses exploding and ticket prices rising, it seems that the domestic moviegoer is of less concern than ever before — something the 2012 release calendar, chock full of sequels, prequels and reissues, seems to illustrate.

Why didn’t you go to the movies this year? What movies will you see with your disposable income in 2012? Let us know in the comments below and take part in our anticipation poll!

[via LAT, THR]

[Photo: Warner Bros.]

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