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North America box office completes record summer
AFP - Wednesday, September 9
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - - Hollywood toasted a record summer at the North American box office Tuesday but the surge in earnings was tempered by the lowest number of ticket sales in more than a decade, analysts said.
The curtain came down on a money-spinning summer on Monday, with box office tracker Exhibitor Relations reporting a highest ever total of 4.17 billion dollars for the summer season which began on May 1.
However industry analysts noted that the number of tickets sold -- 552 million -- had dipped by 4.2 percent over 2008 and was the lowest recorded summer attendance figure since 1997.
"That's the big story," Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock said. "Obviously the overall bottom line is up but in terms of actual tickets sold we're looking at the worst summer in over a decade.
"Theater owners have been concerned about this issue all year. Movie-goers might get a little bit more bang for their buck out of things like 3D but attendances are eroding."
Overall, box office numbers and ticket sales for all of 2009 were up against 2008. The year-to-date box office had reached 7.42 billion dollars against 6.93 billion over the same period last year, a rise of 6.98 percent. Ticket sales for 2009 were at 996 million against 966 million last year.
Bock attributed the sluggish summer ticket sales to a dearth of genuine summer blockbuster movies. "A lot of the big guns just weren't as big as they have been in recent years," Bock said.
"Last summer 'The Dark Knight' did incredible business and we didn't really have a film like that this year."
The final weekend of the summer saw horror movie sequel "Final Destination" hang on to top spot with 15.3 million dollars over the four-day weekend.
Second spot was taken by Quentin Tarantino's World War II film "Inglourious Basterds," about a group of Nazi-hunting Jewish commandos rampaging through occupied France. The film took took 11.6 million dollars in its third weekend.
Sandra Bullock's romantic comedy "All About Steve" debuted in third place. The film, which stars Bullock as a crossword puzzle compiler who becomes infatuated with a television cameraman, opened with 14 million dollars.
Another debutant, action film "Gamer," starring Gerard Butler, took fourth with 11.2 million.
In fifth place was "District 9," the acclaimed science-fiction film from South African director Neill Blomkamp about stranded aliens struggling to escape a township in Johannesburg.
The film, produced by Oscar-winning "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson, hoovered up another 9.1 million dollars.
Holding steady at sixth was "Julie and Julia," the drama-comedy featuring Meryl Streep as legendary television chef Julia Child. The film, written and directed by Nora Ephron, took in seven million dollars.
Horror franchise reboot "Halloween 2" dropped to seventh, the slasher film taking 6.9 million, ahead of eighth-placed "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" with 6.7 million.
New comedy "Extract" was ninth with 5.5 million while "The Time Traveler's Wife," an adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, rounded out the top 10 with 5.4 million.
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