August Box Office Rises and Falls

by Brandon Gray

September 2, 2011

Despite a plague of pathetic new releases over the past two weeks, August 2011 ended up ahead of August 2010 in terms of gross. The month came in at $894 million, which was up two percent over last August.

August 2011 ranked as the fourth highest-grossing August of all time, behind 2007, 2009 and 2003. However, it saw the steepest July-to-August drop on record, as business was off 36 percent from July's $1.4 billion haul.

An estimated 111 million tickets were sold in August, off two percent from last year. That was on par with August 2005, ranking as one of the least-attended Augusts of the past 20 years.

Amidst the doldrums, three movies excelled: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help and The Smurfs. Rise had the mightiest haul, raking in $151.5 million in 27 days of August play. That was the fourth highest-grossing showing ever for a single movie in August, after The Bourne Ultimatum, Rush Hour 2 and Signs, though its standing was much lower in terms of attendance.

Two movies crossed the $100 million mark, Rise and The Help, marking the first time that's happened in August since 2007. With $102.6 million in 22 days of August play, The Help handily surpassed most past comparable titles, including Julie & Julia and Eat Pray Love.

The Smurfs, which opened July 29, gathered $91.9 million in 31 days of August play and has had the best showing for a computer-generated critter/live-action comedy since the last Chipmunks movie. Slots four through seven were also filled by July holdovers: Cowboys & Aliens ($57.7 million), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($53.3 million), Captain America: The First Avenger ($52.1 million) and Crazy, Stupid, Love. ($51.8 million).

Other than Rise and Help, the rest of August's releases were duds. Final Destination 5 ranked eighth with just $38.8 million in 20 days (its predecessor grossed that much by day eight). The Change-Up brought summer's raunchy comedy winning streak to a halt, grossing a mere $34.9 million in 22 days. 30 Minutes or Less rounded out the Top Ten with only $32.9 million.

3D accounted for nearly $150 million of August's box office and was up around 35 percent from last August. The increase was solely due to volume: five new movies entered nationwide 3D release and they all flopped (Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, Final Destination 5, Fright Night, Conan the Barbarian and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World), while last year had two (Step Up 3-D, Piranha 3D). July holdover The Smurfs was the top 3D draw, but, outside of Glee's 100 percent 3D run, Final Destination 5 had the highest 3D share (74 percent).

2011's total gross climbed to $7.2 billion, down 4.4 percent from 2010 and 1.1 percent from 2009 at the same eight-month points, though higher than any other year. At an estimated 906 million, attendance was running 5.4 percent behind 2010. So far, 2011's still the least-attended year since 1996.

Related Stories
July Breaks Box Office Record
June Sees Box Office Dip
May Posts Record Gross
April Sees Box Office Rebound

Related Charts
August Calendar Grosses (Premier Pass)
2011 Grosses (2011-only releases)
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DAILY: Monday, 6/17 (31 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Men in Black' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Men in Black' #1
WEEKLY: 'Pets 2' Tops the Week with $68.2m
DAILY: Thursday 6/13, (44 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 6/12 (29 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 6/11 (36 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added