Box Office Slows in October

by Ray Subers
Real Steel

November 2, 2011

After a record-breaking September, the box office cooled off significantly in a disappointing October. Overall grosses were down around 12 percent to $605 million, which makes it the worst October since 2007 ($522.6 million). With roughly 76 million tickets sold, it is also about tied with October 2007 for lowest estimated monthly attendance since 1996. Through the end of October, yearly box office is off roughly 4.1 percent to $8.44 billion.

The top movie in October 2011 was Paranormal Activity 3 with $83.5 million through just 11 days in theaters. That's nearly 25 percent ahead of its predecessor through the same point, making it one of the success stories of the month. It should ultimately be the only Fall 2011 release to pass $100 million (correction: Puss in Boots will also pass $100 million).

Real Steel took second with a solid $74.3 million, while September release Dolphin Tale claimed third with $40.5 million. Footloose shimmied its way in to fourth with $38.9 million, and Moneyball rounded out the Top Five with $37.9 million. Puss in Boots wasn't far behind with $36.2 million through just four days in theaters, though that gross was on the very low end for DreamWorks Animation fare.

As is to be expected, October generated a handful of major disappointments. The Thing remake/prequel scared up a meager $16.2 million, and has all but disappeared from theaters after just two and a half weeks. Foreign hits The Three Musketeers and Johnny English Reborn also bombed with $15.2 million and $6.6 million, respectively, though the month's biggest failure was easily The Big Year. The comedy, which stars Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, generated a nearly non-existent $6.85 million in ticket sales through 18 days in theaters.

3D once again didn't have much of an effect on the box office. The Three Musketeers and Puss in Boots were the only new entries in the format, and total 3D ticket sales accounted for at most $50 million (or roughly 8 percent of grosses).

Through October, box office is off roughly $360 million, or 4.1 percent, from the same period in 2010. For the year to end up breaking even, from here on out box office needs to be up an average of 20 percent year-over-year. Considering the biggest monthly improvement in 2011 was a 15 percent bump in May, that's going to be difficult to accomplish. Still, with a plethora of high-profile sequels like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part One), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and hotly anticipated "original" fare like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Adventures of Tintin, it's too early to officially rule anything out.

Related Stories
'Lion King' Leads Record-Breaking September
August Box Office Rises and Falls
July Breaks Box Office Record
June Sees Box Office Dip
May Posts Record Gross
April Sees Box Office Rebound

Related Charts
October Calendar Grosses
2011 Grosses (2011-only releases)
Year-to-Date Comparison

12/21 Weekend Report: 'Hobbit' Emerges Victorious in Final Box Office 'Battle'
12/21 Weekend Report (cont.): Final 'Night at the Museum' Narrowly Tops 'Annie'
12/21 Around-the-World Roundup: 'Hobbit' Finale Adds $109 Million Overseas
12/20 Friday Report: 'Hobbit' Finale Conquers Friday Box Office
12/17 Forecast: Will Moviegoers Show Up One Last Time for 'The Hobbit'?
12/17 Forecast (cont.): 'Night at the Museum,' 'Annie' Open Ahead of Christmas Holiday
> MORE: News | Features
DAILY: Tuesday, 12/23 (27 tracked)
MPAA: New Ratings - 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Wedding Ringer,' 'Strange Magic,' 'Knight of Cups' and more >
SCHEDULE: 'The Interview'
SCHEDULE: 'Star Trek 3'
WEEKEND: Actuals (68 tracked)
SCHEDULE: 'Angry Birds'
WEEKEND: Studio Estimates vs. Actuals
SCHEDULE: 'Kubo and the Two Strings'
ALL TIME: December Openings
DIRECTORS: Peter Jackson Openings
FRANCHISES: 'Lord of the Rings' Openings
GENRES: Prequel Openings