Coming off record high grosses in April and May, the box office stumbled a bit in June. At just over $1 billion, business was off five percent from last year, ranking as the fifth highest-grossing (and fifth billion-dollar) June ever.
It's easy for the industry to achieve high gross levels these days, given today's ticket prices and inflation, but June's real malaise was revealed in its attendance. With an estimated 128 million tickets sold, June 2011 was the least-attended June since 2000, and it was more than ten percent below the average of this century.
The major culprit for the June gloom was the movies themselves: Aside from Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the end of the month, no movie struck true blockbuster levels, and several performed below historical norms. Fittingly, since it played for nearly the entire month, X-Men: First Class was the top-grossing release with $135.7 million, though the prequel was the worst-performing X-Men movie yet. Reflecting a more evenly spread-out June (each weekend's top movie ultimately was a $100 million-grosser), First Class was also the lowest-grossing June No. 1 since 2007 and likely the least-attended since 1988.
X-Men: First Class was followed by May holdover The Hangover Part II ($103.2 million in the June calendar month) and Super 8 ($100.5 million). Though respectable, the latter wasn't the audience smash that its makers intended. Green Lantern ranked fourth with $95.7 million, but it mustered less interest than even Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer among past June superhero movies. Cars 2 slotted fifth with $90.9 million in just seven days of June play, but attendance took a hit from the first Cars.
Three movies received the ballyhooed 3D treatment, but they mostly reflected a continued softening of the format. Despite saturation-level 3D location counts, Green Lantern and Cars 2 each debuted with 3D shares in the 40 percent range (and went down from there), while 3D saved some face with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which came in at a still-unremarkable 60 percent. In each case, 3D's more-money-from-fewer-people approach has simply led to less money from even fewer people.
Through June, 2011's total gross stood at $4.9 billion, down eight percent from 2010 at the half-year point. At an estimated 627 million, 2011 had the least-attended January-June period since 1996.