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article imageBox office sinks in 2014

By Tim O'Brien     Dec 30, 2014 in Entertainment
All is not well at the box office. As 2014 winds down, the movie box office will be off from last year. The real takeaway is that less people are seeing movies in theaters.
The box office will turn out to have the lowest attendance since 1995. And 2011 is where this current box office compares as far as money is concerned. Now, it did pass 2011, but it did not beat last year. However, last year was a record year, and movie studios still made money.
Overall, the box office is down 6 percent from 2013 (Dec. 28 end date). For more on studios, see Deadline.
It is that pesky attendance that will resonate. There are several reasons, of course, and the blame game will commence, but many factors are true. One big one was the weather in much of the United States last winter. Another is the product. There were some bad movies out there, including films in a series like "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."
If it wasn't for the solid holiday season, the numbers would have been much worse. The box office is over $10 billion for the sixth year in a row.
So, far the domestic box office is at roughly $10.227 billion, with Dec. 31 still outstanding (some count the weekend in 2014 as well, so it is murky). Last year's record haul was $10.923 billion.
List (years over $10 billion)
2014 - $10.227 billion (so far. Final figures later)
2013 - $10.923 billion
2012 - $10.837 billion
2011 - $10.174 billion
2010 - $10.565 billion
2009 - $10.595 billion
Box Office Mojo
Of course, higher prices and 3D, IMAX, have fueled figures for the studios, and that helps ease the pain. The average ticket price in 2014 was $8.12. In 2013, it was $8.12, so there was not much of a change on that factor.
Peak years of attendance (tickets sold)
2004 - 1.510 billion
2003 - 1.537 billion
2002 - 1.575 billion
One odd thing that happened, and noted in these reports, was the release schedule for some films. Never mind "The Interview," look at Thanksgiving, Halloween and the Fourth of July.
Since Halloween and July 4 fell on a Friday, there was no new product released. True, competing against that is almost impossible, but no new product means they gave up.
Certain films also flopped and some over-achieved, as is usual. It just depend on how bad the flops were. And flops to some are not to the studio. It all depends on the budget.
Some notable flops were "Transcendence," "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," "Edge of Tomorrow," "Legends of Oz," "Winter's Tale," "The Legends of Hercules," "Pompeii," "I, Frankenstein" and "Sabotage."
Top films in 2014 (domestic figures)
1. * "Guardians of the Galaxy" - $332,862,030
2. * "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" - $306,719,406
3. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" - $259,766,572
4. "The LEGO Movie" - $257,760,692
5. "Transformers : Age of Extinction" - $245,439,076
6. "Maleficent" - $241,410,378
7. "X-Men: Days of Future Past" - $233,921,534
8. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" - $208,545,589
9. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" - $202,853,933
10. "Godzilla" - $200,676,069
* Final figures may push "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" into the top spot.
What is interesting is that, to the studio, a film may be a flop and yet still end up in the top 10 for the year. It happens because that particular film under-achieved. Or barely made back its budget, or did not.
What will come out of "The Interview" debacle is a serious discussion over how to release a film. Now, there are those unwritten rules and courtesy factors in play. Theater chains get the first choice on the big films and it will not be released on video-on-demand (VOD) at the same time. But, with "The Interview" grabbing $15 million, they may think again. That will hurt the theater chains, and movie houses in general.
Plus, some buzz has been to release it first on VOD, then build a little marketing buzz, and then to theaters. There was a time when the film would never be released overseas first and now that is often the case.
So, maybe that was the intent for the Sony mess. That is to change the way films are released. But, as of right now, Deadline reports, Wall Street thinks all is safe.
This is also a dip on the domestic side, so that hurt may not be so bad. However, certain demographics seem to be lost at theaters and that is 18-24 males. They show up for their films but ignore the rest of the year. Plus, always going to the well and getting the family films time and time again, will get old. Even families cannot spend money on a film every single weekend.
If the youth crowd is the market for many theaters, do not ignore the fact that they are not going as much. As one gets older, that is always a factor so do not loose the young. When the families stop, then look out - theaters will close big time.
Hollywood is trying to release certain movies in months that generally do not do well, like January, and even February. If they can have a few surprises along the way, that helps the overall box office.
In the end, content matters, as in the product. Many people will never go to a comic book movie. But, looking down the line, they will be dominating the releases, as will sequels and remakes. And even families will grow tired of animated films.
* Story will be updated when actual year-end fugures come in.
More about Box office, Hollywood, Studios, year end, 2014
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