Summer movie misfires drag on 2012 U.S., Canadian box office
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Strong performances from superheroes and a talking teddy bear won't save the summer box office.
"The Avengers" brought in big bucks on the big screen, and raunchy comedy "Ted" broke out as a surprise hit. But alongside the summer successes came a number of flops. After six consecutive increases, summer ticket sales in the United States and Canada are running 5 percent behind last year's record, according to the box office division of Hollywood.com.
The recent slide dragged down a year that raced to a fast start and had studio executives salivating over the prospects of even bigger bonanza during the summer, a season that accounts for 40 percent of yearly box office.
This year, it was a summer of extremes. Big blockbusters such as the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" performed well while films such as the Adam Sandler comedy "That's My Boy" did not match industry expectations.
Despite the summer results, studio executives stressed, domestic box office sales since January are higher than at the same point a year ago.
Summer sales suffered from competition from the Olympics, which drew record TV ratings, and nervousness after a mass killing at a "Dark Knight Rises" premiere in Colorado, studio executives and industry analysts said.
Domestic receipts for "Dark Knight Rises" reached $422 million through Sunday, making it the year's No. 2 film behind "Avengers." "It's a strong result given the circumstances," said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of theatrical distribution for Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc.
But with just one summer movie weekend remaining, overall domestic sales will fail to pull even with last year's $4.4 billion record, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com. As of Sunday, the summer tally stood at $4.0 billion. The last time summer sales decreased from one year to the next was from 2004 to 2005. Continued...