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

Here’s why the rest of 2017 is already doomed

Last Updated: September 5, 2017 @ 5:22 PM

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.