'Hobbit' may smash box office record
Updated: 2012-12-03 14:46
OFF THE COUCH
Studios face a difficult entertainment landscape in which consumers have an array of competing outlets for movie watching that includes DVR recordings, game players and movies streamed over computers and mobile phones.
Services like Netflix Inc have also made a dent in trips to the theater by offering cheap monthly rentals that make it easier to stay on the couch.
What has got people out of their homes, Hollywood moguls say, is a rise in the quality and variety of what is on screen.
"Ted", about a foul-mouthed stuffed bear, was a surprise winner with $219 million. Several mid-sized hits that won critical acclaim, including Steven Spielberg's historical drama "Lincoln" and the Iran hostage thriller "Argo", became box office darlings.
"There is something for everyone," said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at News Corp's 20th Century Fox studio. "When we achieve that as an industry and the movies are of good quality, that's when good things happen."
Sony oiled up its Spider-Man franchise and collected $262 million by rebooting it with new stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in "The Amazing Spider-Man". Disney's Pixar unit struck it big again with the animated movie "Brave".
Hollywood did not escape some box office bombs. Two big-budget bets - board-game inspired thriller "Battleship" and outer space adventure "John Carter" - ranked among the most costly flops in movie history.
The mass killing at a Colorado movie theater in July marred the release of Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises". But the film eventually grossed $448 million domestically, ranking as the year's second-biggest.
Hollywood also overcame summer doldrums. The season that accounts for the bulk of yearly sales slumped 5 percent behind 2011. The second weekend in September produced the lowest-grossing weekend since 2001.
The pace quickened at the start of the holidays - the second-biggest movie going period - with "Twilight" finale "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" and James Bond movie "Skyfall" leading record Thanksgiving sales of $291 million over five days.