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No Box Office Relief in Sight After Summer Attendance Hits 25-Year Low

Here’s why the rest of 2017 is already doomed

Labor Day is done, the summer box office season is now closed, and the numbers are abysmal.

The final revenue total for the box office from May 5 to Labor Day stands at $3.83 billion, making this summer the first since 2006 to finish below $4 billion. Compared to last summer, that total is 14.6 percent lower, tying summer 2014 for the biggest year-to-year drop for the season.

As for annual totals, after a strong start to the year that included the most profitable March ever, the weak summer has erased Q1 profits and put 2017 down six percent year-to-date. Starting this weekend, exhibitors will get a bailout with anticipated films like “It” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” on the September slate, but even if the last four months of 2017 can push annual revenue to more than $11 billion (just less than 2016 overall domestic grosses), attendance is still expected to hit a 25-year low at approximately 1.22 billion tickets sold.

If that happens, then this summer will have been a microcosm for the overall attendance crash. Based on the national average ticket price of $8.89, approximately 430 million tickets were sold this summer, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s by far the lowest since 1992, and while next summer should see a strong rebound with films like “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Deadpool 2” leading the slate, it’s likely to be only a minor rally in what has been a continuous decline in movie theater attendance over the past 12 years.