This summer may have seen one of the biggest movies of all time in 'The Avengers', joined by fellow super hero movie 'The Dark Knight Rises' in the blockbuster stakes, but those smash hits aside it has been a poor year for Hollywood, as a string of lesser movies underperformed and marked the first decline in receipts the first time in 5 years.
Summer ticket sales in the United States and Canada are running 5 percent behind last year's record, according to Hollywood.com.
The recent slide dragged down a year that began well for studio executives who imagined an even bigger summer season, one which accounts for 40 percent of yearly box office.
However the summer became one of extremes, with the likes of the Batman movie being undermined by a string of flops like Adam Sandler comedy 'That's My Boy and sci-fi remake 'Total Recall'.
Despite the poor summer results, studio executives stressed, domestic box office sales since January are higher than at the same point a year ago.
However there were mitigating factors, like competition from the Olympics, which drew record TV ratings, and nervousness about 'The Dark Knight Rises' shootings at a premiere in Colorado, studio executives and industry analysts said.
Domestic US sales for Christopher Nolan's Batman movie reached $422 million on Sunday, making it the year's No. 2 film behind 'The Avengers'. Jeff Golstein, executive vice president of retail at Warner Bros told Reuters: "It's a strong result given the circumstances."
As of Sunday, the summer tally stood at $4 billion, compared to last year's $4.4bn. The last time summer sales decreased from one year to the next was from 2004 to 2005.
Tony Wible, industry analyst for Janney Montgomery Scott."We have seen most films weaker than expected," adding: "A fewer number of films accounted for the upside."
The news will strike the odd shiver through Hollywood as Warner's need a new movie to replace their 'Batman' cash cow, and 'The Avengers' won't be seen again until 2015.
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