For Hollywood, a summer to forget
By Andy Goldberg Sep 4, 2010, 3:18 GMT
Cast member Ukrainian-born actress Milla Jovovich attends the World Premiere of her latest movie \'Resident Evil: Afterlife\' in Tokyo, Japan, 02 September 2010. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON
Los Angeles - Hollywood's summer of 2010 is officially over and for industry insiders it has been a season to forget.
If the cool summer weather in southern California wasn't bad enough to send Hollywood's sun worshippers into a funk, the anaemic level of ticket sales certainly did.
US cinemas sold fewer tickets this summer than they have for any previous summers in the past decade. Thus, despite higher ticket prices, revenues were down 1 per cent from last year at an estimated 4.24 billion dollars. Tickets sold dropped by about 6 per cent to 538 million, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.
The 4.5-per-cent ticket price increase to an average of 7.88 dollars probably didn't deter too many people from splurging on a cinema ticket. A far bigger deterrent was the lack of quality new films to attract would-be filmgoers, said Patrick Corcoran, an association spokesman.
'It's too quick and easy to point to ticket prices and say that's the reason a summer does better or worse,' he told The Hollywood Reporter. 'The difference in almost any year is how attractive the movies are to an audience.'
The season seemed to start off well enough in early May - with Iron Man 2 earning 312 million dollars. But Hollywood was unable to produce blockbusters with its usual frequency - only 11 films broke the 100-million-dollar mark this year - three fewer than in summer 2009, as audiences appeared ambivalent to a movie diet of tired sequels and remakes.
Some franchise films did do remarkably well. Pixar kept up its enviable track record with Toy Story 3 earning 405.7 million dollars in the United States, making it the top earner of the season.
The Twilight saga's Eclipse also piled in audiences with receipts of 298 million dollars, while the futuristic fantasy Inception justified its huge budget with a 270.5 million dollar take.
Shrek Forever After was something of a disappointment with only 212 million dollars in earnings, but it was still far better than many other big budget movies that were dead-on-arrival at the box office.
This list of shame included Russell Crowe's Robin Hood, which took in 100 million dollars, and Jake Gyllenhaal's Prince of Persia, which took in just 90 million dollars - both cost 200 million dollars to make. Other flops included The A Team (77 million dollars), Sex and the City 2 (95 million dollars) and Ashton Kutcher's Killers with just 47 million dollars in box office receipts.
The great promise of 3D also failed to deliver. Partly this was because there are still not enough 3D movie screens to allow more than one 3D hit at a time. But it's also because filmmakers focused too heavily on the effects rather than the underlying film. Also, the novelty value has worn off leaving moviegoers unwilling to splash out on the higher prices that go with 3-D movies.
In true Hollywood style, the industry is hoping for a turnaround in the autumn when movie studios are positioning films for the awards' seasons and movies tend to be less formulaic than the popcorn fare associated with summer.
Look out for horror films such as Resident Evil: Afterlife, Saw 3D, Devil, Let Me In, and My Soul to Take. Fans of thrillers may like Renee Zellweger in Case 39, the all-star CIA plot Red with Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman, or Denzel Washington's Unstoppable.
Woody Allen heads the cerebral comedy list with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, while other comedies include You Again, The Virginity Hit and Morning Glory. Audiences may also like The Social Network, which stars Jesse Eisenberg in a film about the early days of Facebook.
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