2013 Summer Box Office the Biggest Ever Recorded, Attendance Up 7%

Despite a summer movie season that seemed to be characterized by critical disappointments (Man of Steel, Star Trek 2, Lone Ranger) and notable flops (White House Down, After Earth, R.I.P.D., Lone Ranger), now that the final numbers are in, they tell a different story. The $4.1 billion North American box office take for 2013 was the highest ever recorded, up 10.2 percent. Even attendance was up. With Hollywood doing so well, I’m putting all my money in cocaine futures.

With the end of the movie industry’s extended summer season, which lasts from the first weekend of May through Labor Day, box-office returns in the U.S. and Canada were $4.71 billion, the highest ever recorded. Receipts rose 10.2% from the summer of 2012 and attendance—the number of tickets sold—increased nearly 7% to 572.7 million, according to data compiled by The number of big-budget films and high-profile sequels totaled 22 this summer, compared with 15 in the same period last year.

The positive numbers would seem to validate the Disney exec who said their boring tentpole strategy is still solid, despite a strenuous poo-pooing by yours truly (hey, I like good movies, so sue me).

…Or do they?

The real surprise was the number of lower-budget movies that drew big crowds. Five films that cost less than $50 million to make grossed more than $90 million at the domestic box office, compared with two last summer. Among the surprise hits were “We’re the Millers” and “The Conjuring” both from Warner Bros.’s New Line Cinema unit, “This is the End” from Sony and “The Heat” from Twentieth Century Fox.

Historical drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” is on track to join that elite group. The Weinstein Co. release sat atop the box office for the third time in a row over Labor Day weekend, grossing $20 million in four days and bringing its total so far to $79.3 million. [WallStreetJournal]

So… what did we learn? I guess… we didn’t learn anything. Sometimes huge budget tentpoles are great and make a ton of money (Iron Man 3), and sometimes they bomb, and sometimes lower budget movies do great too. (*shrugs, takes pull of whiskey*) This is movies. You want lessons, ask books.

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