Welcome To The Recovery: US Box Office Spend Plunges To Lowest Since 2000

While the cancellation of 'The Interview' wiped billions off the US Box Office take in 2014 (</sarc>), ticket sales in North America will total roughly $10.5 billion, according to The NY Times, the lowest since 2000 (after inflation). Regal Cinemas and AMX Theatres have seen profits collapse and Carmike Cinemas has plunged to a loss as major movie delays (from Pixar and Universal), "pirating" of several movies (The Expendables 3 and Annie) before their release, and studios suffering one dud after another (Warner Bros.) the 4% YoY decline - for what is ultimately an affordable luxury - suggests the gas-price-savings are going anywhere but discretionary spending (just as we noted previously).

 

Not a pretty picture of recovery...

 

Ticket sales at North American theaters gave studios mixed messages about consumer confidence, as The NY Times reports,

The delay of major movies from Pixar and Universal. The pirating of “The Expendables 3” and “Annie” before their release. Warner Bros. suffering one dud after another. Hackers forcing the cancellation of a big Sony comedy.

 

Hollywood does not want a sequel to 2014.

 

For the year, ticket sales at North American theaters will total roughly $10.5 billion, a 4 percent decline from a year earlier, according to projections by the box-office data firm Rentrak. Attendance will drop by about the same percentage.

 

Annual fluctuations of that size are not uncommon at the domestic box office, which rises and falls based on the strength of the movie lineup. Still, that total would give the movie business its lowest tally since 2000, after accounting for inflation.

Cyclical or Structural decline...

Whenever ticket sales take a tumble, Hollywood pulls the assertion of cyclicality out of its hip pocket: Just wait until next year — next year will be our best ever.

 

Hollywood’s primary worry is that moviegoing in North America is changing along generational lines. In particular, young ticket buyers traditionally turned out weekend after weekend — with the quality of the films mattering less than the opportunity to fraternize. But this group is staying home more often.

 

The Nielsen Company said this month that the moviegoing of Americans age 12 to 24 dropped 15 percent in the first nine months of 2014, compared with the same period a year earlier.

And then there's this...

“It’s been a rather sluggish market since Thanksgiving,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox.

But but but the gas-price savings...and discretionary spending... what about the narrative!!!