Summer of superheroes ride to Hollywood's rescue

Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:16pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It's looking to be another summer of superheroes and sequels as Hollywood unleashes a barrage of pictures aimed at their core audience of young men.

Studios generate about 40 percent of their annual sales during the lucrative four-month summer season. But although ticket sales brought in a record $4.35 billion in 2010, that was due to higher prices.

The grim reality is that attendance has fallen for the past three summers, reaching its lowest level last summer since 1997.

So what gives? Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for, said alternative ways of watching movies from the likes of Netflix, Hulu and video on demand are giving movie theaters a run for their money.

"The immediacy of online delivery has created a competitive landscape for theatrical movie going," Dergarabedian told Reuters.

Not that going to the multiplex is in danger of becoming extinct -- so long as the product is good.

A year after "Iron Man," "Twilight" and "Shrek" sequels pulled in summer crowds, the studios are front loading many of their potential blockbusters early.

Summer cannot come soon enough for Hollywood with 2011 sales to date of $2.7 billion, down nearly 18 percent from last year.   Continued...