Monday, September 5, 2005

Hollywood Uncertain After Summer Bummer

"Americans' love affair with movies is far from over. Yet like many relationships, it seems to be suffering from a case of familiarity breeds contempt. Summer 2005 was the worst since 1997 for movie attendance, which dropped sharply and rattled the complacency of studios.

"For the 18 weeks from early May through Labor Day, domestic movie grosses are expected to total $3.6 billion, down 9 percent from summer revenues of $3.96 billion last year, according to box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. Attendance figures are even bleaker. Factoring in higher admission prices, the number of movie tickets sold should come in around 562.5 million, down 12 percent from summer 2004." ...

"Summer 2005 did produce its share of big hits, led by 'Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith' at almost $380 million. Films at or near the $200 million mark included 'War of the Worlds,' 'Batman Begins,' 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,' 'Wedding Crashers' and 'Madagascar.'

"There also were a few independent hits, such as the ensemble drama 'Crash' and the surprise documentary smash 'March of the Penguins.'"

"'In an ideal world, people would say "OK, we have to think more creatively, we have to think outside the box and come up with new and different things,"' said Steven Friedlander, head of distribution for Warner Independent Pictures, which released 'March of the Penguins.'

"'But I'm afraid what's going to happen is, we're all going to sit in a room and say "We need more penguin movies."'"

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