Hollywood Made a Lot of Money This Summer, So Why’s Everybody Worried?

The Projector
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As we stumble bleary-eyed toward Labor Day, the summer movie season is all but over, which means we won't see another sequel until "Paranormal Activity 3" in October. But that also means that we'll soon find out how this summer movie season compared dollar-wise to previous summers. And the initial reports are very encouraging, except for all the reasons why they're not encouraging at all.

The Hollywood Reporter quotes Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. (who have the year's biggest hit with the "Harry Potter" finale), who says, "[Hollywood is] on track to score the biggest summer of all time, and I think domestic revenue will reach $4.4 billion by the end of Labor Day." The reason? "Good movies rise to the occasion." We're a little suspicious of that -- two of the biggest summer hits were the pretty disappointing "Transformers" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels -- but we'll agree to disagree.

But underneath the "We broke records!" headlines, the summer box office showed plenty of reasons for studios to worry. As The Reporter notes, "moviegoers in North America began rejecting 3D as a format this summer, and the only thing that saved Hollywood were booming emerging markets like Russia, China and Brazil, where 3D remains tremendously popular." Plus, the good summer returns don't make up for a how bad early 2011 was commercially. By April 1, domestic box office was 19 percent behind 2010's comparable grosses. Now, it's closer to being only 4 percent behind last year. So, no pressure, "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "Adventures of Tintin": You may be the only things keeping 2011 from being a slump year, which would throw the media (and the studios) into an absolute panic.

And then there's the problem with "young people." It used to be that critics would complain that too many movies were geared primarily at a younger demographic; now it seems that they're coming out in smaller droves. That's a major concern since the possibility of a "Larry Crowne 2" isn't very likely. But, hey, don't worry: Hollywood had three billion-dollar hits for the first time ever! Unfortunately, they may need to do that every year from now on to compensate for some weaknesses elsewhere.

Summer Box Office to Set New Record [The Hollywood Reporter]