Estimates Show Movie Theater Attendance Was Down This Summer

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Movie ticket prices are up, but it seems sales are down this summer. While movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises can consider this summer a win at the box office, over all, the number of people going to the movies this summer in North America was down from previous years.

According to THR, preliminary estimates say 533.5 million tickets were sold during this year's summer season, which is a 4% drop from last summer and would mark the worst turnout since 1993. The final revenue and attendance figures are set to be released this week, but from what THR is reporting, the estimated revenue for the domestic box office was $4.278 billion in sales, which is also down this year from last summer's $4.4 billion.

The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Ice Age: Continental Drift are all part of successful franchises, which certainly couldn't have hurt them in terms of getting a head start before generating post-release word-of-mouth buzz. Other films didn't fare as well. Battleship, for example, released in May and has grossed about $65 million so far domestically, which is less than half of what Ice Age 4 took in (more than $156 million domestically) since its release in July.

The Colorado movie theater shooting may have had at least some noticeable affect on the drop in movie theater attendance. But another factor may be the increasingly high cost of going to the movies. Just last month we shared word that the average movie ticket price had gone up in North America. It's clearly not getting any cheaper to visit the theater. There's nothing quite like seeing a great movie in the theater, but there's also nothing quite like the disappointment of leaving the theater realizing you and your movie-going partner shelled out more than $20 (or more when including concessions) for a disappointing movie. Or that the person or people seated near you were talking and/or texting the whole time ("Into the dome!").

Sure, it's always somewhat of a gamble when you buy a movie ticket, but factoring in substantially cheaper alternatives (Video on Demand, Netflix, Red Box, etc), for those of us with the patience to wait, I can see why attendance might be slipping.

Kelly West
Assistant Managing Editor

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site.