The number of north Americans who went to the cinema in 2010 was around 5% down on the 2009 total, figures show.
Box office analysts at Hollywood.com forecast 1.35 billion tickets will be sold by the end of the year, down on the 1.42 billion sold in 2009.
It is the biggest year-on-year drop since 2005, making 2010 the second-lowest attended year of the decade.
Yet box office revenues remained about the same at $10.6bn (£6.9bn), due to increased ticket prices.
The Internet Movie Database notes it could have been worse:
The total box office for 2010 is expected to come in a tad below 2009′s, but the result could have been an unqualified disaster if it had not been for 20th Century Fox’s Avatar year-end estimated totals indicated Thursday. Although the film had already earned $284 million during December 2009, it went on to earn an additional $477 million in 2010, making it the biggest box-office hit of this year. “Avatar kept this year’s [box office] totals afloat,” Daily Variety remarked in a year-end summary of the year’s biggest hits.
But James Cameron, Avatar’s director, urged film audiences to reduce consumption; if they started by cutting back on Hollywood’s product, the industry can’t really fault them, can they?
Curiously though, much like documentary maker and cable TV mogul Al Gore, that’s not a message that Cameron seems to have internalized himself: