U.S., Canada 2011 box office slumps, global sales up

Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:00pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

(Reuters) - Ticket sales at U.S. and Canadian theaters suffered a 4 percent slump in 2011 to $10.2 billion despite a slew of big studio-funded hits that helped boost the global box office, a Hollywood industry group said on Thursday.

The U.S. and Canada film box office fell from 2010's $10.6 billion in revenue, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents major U.S. film studios.

U.S. and Canadian theaters sold 1.3 billion tickets in 2011, its lowest level in a decade and its second consecutive year of declines, a troubling statistic for both the theaters and Hollywood studios, which have traditionally relied on theatrical showings to promote their movies for later sales on DVDs and through digital outlets.

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, called the slump "disappointing to our U.S. operators."

Despite a year in which studios released big-budget crowd pleasers such as "Harry Potter" and "Twilight," Fithian said "a few more good movies" were needed for the box office to recover in the aftermath of 2010's first-quarter box office hits "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland."

Offsetting the dour domestic numbers, the global box office increased by 3 percent from 2010, raking in $32.6 billion during 2011, strengthened by ongoing growth of theaters in international markets.

China's box office alone grew by 35 percent in 2011, as the nation stepped up construction of 3D and large-screen Imax theaters.

Last year's five top-earning films in the U.S. and Canadian market was led by the final installment in the "Harry Potter" franchise, followed by "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1," "The Hangover 2" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," with box office revenues ranging from $241 million to $381 million each.   Continued...