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Despite the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2, summer movie attendance was at its lowest since 1997 this year.

Amelia Riley Swan
Amelia Riley Swan on September 6, 2011.

LOS ANGELES — It was the summer that North American movie attendance continued to slide, Hollywood’s reliance on overseas ticket sales intensified, the Smurfs flexed their minimuscles and a cadre of A-list stars flopped — again.

From the first weekend in May to Labor Day, a period that typically accounts for 40 percent of the film industry’s annual ticket sales, domestic box-office revenue is projected to total $4.38 billion, an increase from last year of less than 1 percent, according to Hollywood.com, which compiles box-office data.

The bad news: higher ticket prices, especially for the 18 films released in 3-D (up from seven last summer), drove the increase. Attendance for the period is projected to total about 543 million, the lowest tally since the summer of 1997, when 540 million people turned up.

Hollywood has now experienced four consecutive summers of eroding attendance, a cause for alarm for both studios and the publicly traded theater chains. One or two soft years can be dismissed as an aberration; four signal real trouble. NYTimes.com

Photo: Warner Brothers Pictures

 

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