MSN Movies Blog

2011 Movie Attendance the Lowest in 16 Years

Studios are saying their upcoming films will lure people back in 2012...but they said that last year, too

By DannyMiller Dec 28, 2011 7:28PM

It’s been a depressing fall and winter for the movie business. In fact, most studio executives are very pleased to be ushering 2011 to the door. According to an article published Wednesday by the Associated Press, movie attendance reached a 16-year low in 2011. By year’s end this weekend, it’s estimated that 1.28 billion tickets will have been sold over the course of the year, down 4.4 percent from 2010 and the lowest number of moviegoers since 1995 when 1.26 billion tickets were sold.


The culprits? Some point to lousy product and an abundance of sequels and remakes that people greeted with yawns. But that’s certainly not the whole story. There were a lot of excellent films released in 2011 and frankly, with many of the films available for viewing at home or on a variety of other devices shortly after their theatrical release (if not during), the studios may need to rethink the role of traditional moviegoing. Personally, I always prefer seeing a film in a real movie theater, tub of buttered popcorn in hand, but plenty of folks are making do with their gigantic home screens or their miniscule hand-held devices.


Is the recession to blame? Hard to say, especially with the phenomenal success of certain films this year—both the expected mega-hits such as “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1” and “Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows, Part 2,” as well as several surprise hits including “The Help,” “Bridesmaids,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “The Smurfs.” Yet many films the studios were banking on performed well below expectations — “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Happy Feet Two” and “Tower Heist” to name a few.


Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at sounds a note of caution. “I’m not prepared to be Chicken Little yet,” he wrote, “but if the films coming in 2012 can’t reverse this trend, then I think we need to reevaluate our expectations. We are living in a different world today than we did in the mid-'90s in terms of the technology available to deliver media. That may finally be having an impact.”


Probably, but with such guaranteed blockbusters as “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “The Avengers,” and “The Hobbit” arriving in 2012, movie honchos are keeping their fingers crossed. Hey, even “Titanic” is coming back, retooled in 3D, of course, as well as new entries in a bunch of popular franchises, from James Bond to “Men in Black” and “Ice Age.”


What do you think? Will 2012 find big crowds returning to the local multiplex? 

Dec 31, 2011 12:51PM
The biggest reason for not goig to the theater is the price of concessions. You can get a week's worth of groceries for the price of the popcorn and a drink for two people. If they ever get reasonable prices for concessions, we'll go back to the theater......NOT UNTIL!!!!!!!!!!!
Dec 31, 2011 1:16PM
I have a family of 5 I Make 65k a year, Own 1 car and have a reasonable mortgage and my family goes to the Movies Maybe once a year cause we are stretched so tight. The Prices for us to get just the tickets is over 50 bucks. It is a terrible rip off.
Dec 31, 2011 5:37PM
...... im 66 years old... i can remember going to see a movie in my little town .... it cost 50 cents to see a movie if you were over 12.... 25 cents for kids under 12 .... right beside the movie house was a candy store .... you could get 3 pieces of candy for a penny ... and the owner of the movie house would toss your butt out if you were obnoxious or rowdy.. great movies then... with a short like the Three Stooges then a cartoon....  life was a lot less hectic and money went a lot further ...... i feel sorry for todays youth and young families ....  life in America is not better today ....
Dec 31, 2011 1:52PM
I love going to movies.  BUT, the prices are just too high.  I wait for "Spot Light" nite, where it's almost half price.  Most people I know, young and old, wait for the DVD because everyone feels that, between the admission cost and concessions cost, it is too expensive of an evening out (and especially if you have to pay a babysitter).   It is a sad state of affairs.  I think Hollywood makes too many movies for the market, is too focused on special effects (and I won't go to see 3D movies), and they cost too much to make.    Yes, something has to change.
Dec 31, 2011 1:36PM

Really?  Ticket sales are down?  What is the next revelation?  Water is wet?

= ticket prices are way too high

= hollywood hasn't had an original thought in years

= a-holes sitting near me that wont shut the hell up

= concessions that need a small loan to afford

= 60" LED at home that is just a good as a theatre.


Movie theatres are history.   They just don't know it yet.

Dec 31, 2011 12:45PM
Prices and self indulgence at an all time high while creativity and story telling at an all time low!  Shock value is no longer shocking and special effects while visually stunning are pointless with a storyline and characters that no one can relate to.  Why is it that HBO and Showtime can create masterpieces of storytelling and bring characters to life while Hollywood seems to have lost there way, wanting to show us non-participants in their society how we could live if we were part of their culture, rather than uplift or challenge us to see our society for what is and the daily drama that hero and villains partake of daily.  

Sad to say that a you tube newbie has more rocks in their pants than the big name studio's with their self anointed stars!!
Dec 31, 2011 1:31PM
People or I should say, when I was a teen, the price to watch a show was reasonable. Now I havent been to a movie in 20 yrs. The pop corn and the candy is outragious. The theaters are going to have to knock off some money on the tickets and the concession sales. Or they arent going to make it. Times are changing.
Dec 31, 2011 1:21PM

1. The movies are remakes of things that I have already seen.  I cant stand it when they do that.  Write somthing original and I will go.


2. Concessions and ticket prices are insane.  We went and saw Mission impossible. It was $21 for the tickets for two and then another $20 for a popcorn and soda.


3. I CANT STAND PEOPLE THAT TALK NON STOP THROUGH THE MOVIE!  Because the ticket prices are high people think they can do anything they want.  This bald jerk in front of us wound no stop talking through out the movie.  DUDE we are in a theater and not at your FREAKING house!  Then half way through the movie the girl he was with started TEXTING!  I know its not loud but the light was distracting.  I go to a movie to escape not get PISSED off!  They should make it no talking and NO CELL PHONES AT ALL!


Phew I feel much better now!

Dec 31, 2011 6:33PM

Ticket prices are rediculous. Food/Drink prices are off the chart. People in audience are rude: Texting or eating with mouths open. I can rent the same movie within 3 months and watch it on our big screen at home.

Dec 31, 2011 6:25PM
Dec 31, 2011 2:18PM
I hope the movie industry and actors read the comments of the majority in these posts and get their wake up call. I just took my family of four to see tin tin and it cost me around $90 with concessions. While the rest of us continue to struggle in the economy the stars continue to live it up. This applies to all forms of entertainment including the overpaid sports stars who strike for more money resulting in us paying high prices to watch sports not only live but also on TV.
Dec 31, 2011 2:07PM

It's the prices. My wife & I like to go to matiness, but even with my senior discount, it costs us $18.00. I give the girl a $20 and she gives me $2 back. I can't even buy a coke with that. They cost $4.25.

Maybe if they'd look at their pricing, and lower it considerably, then people would go back to the movies, and maybe even buy some refreshments.

Dec 31, 2011 1:37PM
It's obvious why there is a decrease in attendance. It simply costs too much to go to a show. Lower the price and see attendance increase. Also, box office numbers are a farse because of how expensive the tickets are. Compare prices to the 80's and 90's when it was affordable and you will find a higher attendance rate. I can enjoy a blue ray video at home on my 55" flat screen for $1.49. You do the math. Going out to a movie is nothing short of a rip off.  You are crazy to buy concessions as well. Dumping money down the toilet if you ask me.
Dec 31, 2011 5:27PM
Good. Theaters and Hollywood have been ripping people off for years.
Dec 31, 2011 2:09PM
If they cut the cost of movie and food, viewers will come.
Dec 31, 2011 1:40PM

1 year since attending a movie for the following reasons:

1. Too expensive 2. People talking 3. Concessions too expensive and they suck for quality at the same time. Heres the deal movie houses, I will pay 8 bucks for a ticket, 5 bucks for popcorn and drink, if the price are over that, then I stay home, rent a movie for $1.00, get the picture.


I can have friends over, hang out, and thats what more people are doing-I think the only people attending movies are teens, that parents are using the movies as a babysitter. Take them out of the equation you have worse then your 4% drop.


Also, the new generation grew up with movies online, once they move into their 30's, and have kids, the tide will change. As long as you overpay movie actors, then I will shift my money elsewhere--its a brave new world--just dumped verizon cable for the same reason--screw TV, garbage in garbage out,

Dec 31, 2011 1:00PM


Dec 31, 2011 5:58PM
Too bad.  Maybe industry will quit paying some of these actors 50 MIL + per movie.  That is absolutely atrocious.  Factor in concession prices for 3-4 people and cost to go to one is a weeks wages for some; at least from minimum wage standpoint.
Much better bang for the buck are online services - in comfort of your own home, without baby sitter, gas, parking, food, toll costs.
Dec 31, 2011 5:36PM
My only wish is that the media would knock off the hype of how much money a movie takes in, and put out those same numbers with regard to the number of viewers! Then we could really compare things across the years/months/weekends/etc. When the industry jacks up their prices and adds hokey 3D to any movie they think can suck an extra $3 from anyone, the numbers are grossly inflated. 

Too many crummy, overhyped movies. Prices have become ridiculous. The cost of the snacks are outrageous. The entire movie industry needs to wake up. Every one hit wonder "movie star" doesn't deserve millions of dollars for their mediocre performance. Look at the locations and the thousands of names that scroll down just to pander to these people. Really? Losing money. How about looking internally at the industry to see if maybe they may be part of the problem!!!
Dec 31, 2011 5:29PM
The majority rule here. Cost. Cost. Cost. Cost. The actors in these movies are making a fortune and the general public has to spend a fortune to go see the latest release. Plus the fact you have to put up with rude, insensitive teenagers who are ill behaved while away from Mom and Dad and people just feel like they can stay home and wait for the movie to come out on DVD. If theatres would issue passes or buy one get one free once in a while and offer coupons for savings on tickets, then they might see more folks attending. I, for one, am tired of spending $50 for 90 minutes work of garbage anymore. Sick of mechanical monsters, cartooned productions and blood and carnage on the screen. I guess those good old days of decent movies are over......
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