With nearly $1 billion to make up in less than two weeks, the domestic box office can kiss any dreams of a record 2011 goodbye.
In fact, despite a huge rally in the second and third quarters of the year, the domestic market won't even hit last year's mark.
As of Sunday, total North American ticket sales stand at $9.64 billion, shy of the $10.58 billion mark set last year -- and also shy of 2009's record of $10.59 billion.
Even with “The Adventures of Tintin” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” hitting the market and “Mission : Impossible -- Ghost Protocol” going wide, closing the gap will be nearly impossible given that there are just 12 days left to make up the difference.
“It would be pretty miraculous,” Patrick Corcoran, director of media & research at the National Association of Theater Owners, told TheWrap. “But there are a broad cross section of movies hitting the marketplace and hopefully we can cut into that deficit and carry some momentum into the beginning of next year.”
Compounding the difficulty, none of the major films released in recent weeks have struck a chord with moviegoers -- “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “New Year’s Eve” are simply the latest in a string of wide releases that have failed to hit their pre-release tracking.
Over the last two weeks of 2010, the box office racked up roughly $550 million.
However, that the domestic numbers are within striking distance of where they were at the same point last year is remarkable.
Over a dismal first quarter, the box office was down 21.3 percent, when films like “No Strings Attached” and “Hall Pass” led an underwhelming spring slate.
A record summer, however, has helped the market make up lost of ground. Thanks to an onslaught of tentpole films like “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2,” the summer box office jumped 4.4 percent and rose 1.8 percent in admissions, translating into a haul of over $4 billion in ticket sales.
“During the first quarter, people were ready to write this year off,” Corcoran told TheWrap. “That didn’t turn out to be the case. The spring and the summer were pretty fantastic.”
Barring a holiday season miracle, it just won’t be quite as fantastic as this year.