To put a different spin on a Mark Twain cliché: rumors of movie exhibition’s demise have been greatly exaggerated – at least with respect to revenues.
After a dismal 2011, the North American box office rebounded to set a record for revenue with $10.8 billion, according to projections from box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com.
But that record comes with a caveat – attendance still lags behind theater’s best year in that category by a significant margin. Given the negligible average rise in ticket prices over last year (just a penny), studios can take heart because audiences returned. Overall, revenues rose 5.87 percent and attendance 5.73 percent.
But they should also learn one simple lesson: it’s the movies, stupid. Their equation remains simple: great + entertaining = $$$. That’s what happened with the box office this year. Studios releases proved to possess a rare blend of critical acclaim (The Avengers, Skyfall, and The Dark Knight Rises) along with jaw-dropping grosses allowing them to succeed.
It looks to be a trend that will continue through to the new year with this week’s Christmas releases as they debuted with strong grosses and continued to dominate the weekend box office for the weekend of Dec. 28.
For Warner Bros. giving the green light to adapt J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit was probably the safest bet they could make.
It continues to pay off at the box office as the Peter Jackson directed film enjoys its third week leading North America’s box office grosses with $32.9 million for the last movie-going weekend of the year. In that three-week span, film has grossed a cumulative $220 million ensuring that Warner Bros. will have at least one franchise for the next two years.
The two newcomers – Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Les Miserables – were strong contenders, but not strong enough to bump The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
The two set records early last week for Christmas Day releases and their strength continued as Django grossed $30.6 million and Les Miserables grabbed $28.4 million. They’ve grabbed $64 million and $67 million, respectively since opening.
Fox has a solid family hit in Parental Guidance with $14.8 million for the fourth spot and Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher took in $14.million to round out the top five.
Here are this week’s Top 10 films according to Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com:
The Hobbit (Warner Bros.): $32.9 million
Django Unchained (The Weinstein Co.): $30.6 million
Les Miserables (Universal): $28.4 million
Parental Guidance (Fox): $14.8 million
Jack Reacher (Paramount): $14 million
This is 40 (Universal): $13.1 million
Lincoln (Disney/DreamWorks): $7.5 million
The Guilt Trip (Paramount): $6.7 million
Monsters Inc. 3-D (Disney/Pixar): $6.3 million
Rise of the Guardians (DreamWorks/Paramount): $4.9 million