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Posted at 1:16 PM ET, 06/ 7/2010

Weekend box office: Sorry, Hollywood. Not interested.

By Jen Chaney

"Shrek Forever After," still presiding over a less than solid weekend box office. (DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures)

Apparently Americans are not very interested in going to the movies right now. After the weakest Memorial Day holiday at the box office in 17 years, Hollywood had another bummer weekend, with "Shrek Forever After" at No. 1 for the third week in a row and overall revenues down 24 percent compared with this time last year. So what's the deal?

Do people have the gall to spend their weekends at the beach, reading books or, God forbid, getting some exercise instead of sitting in a multiplex and gobbling down $85 (cost approximate) bags of popcorn? Or is the real issue that the movies right now totally stink? Let's crunch some numbers and try to figure it out (As always, figures are based on studio projections; final numbers release later today.)

Hollywood: really in dire straits?: As David Germain at the Associated Press reported, overall revenues are down 24 percent compared to this same weekend last year; according to Box Office Mojo, the revenue generated this weekend by the top 12 films ($121.7 million) is off by 16.2 percent compared to the same weekend in 2009.

But let's go back in time a tad further. During the first weekend of June in 2007, when "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" was released, the top 12 movies brought in $128.9 million. And during June's opener in 2006, $129.1 million was the tally from the top 12 flicks. So while clearly this weekend marks a notable decline in revenue, it may not be quite as dire as those year-to-year comparisons make it sound, especially since '09 was a robust one for movie-going.

Newcomers not wanted: "Shrek Forever After" is still hanging in at No. 1 with $25.3 million earned over the weekend. Certainly that's because it's part of a known franchise, and one that appeals to families. But the ogre's staying power also can be attributed to the lack of interest in newer films. "Get Him to the Greek" and "Killers" fared best of the fresh crop in second and third places, respectively. But "Marmaduke" -- which theoretically should have competed with "Shrek" -- and the sci-fi chiller "Splice" didn't even make the top five. So, to answer the question I raised earlier in this post, I do think some moviegoers are bailing on trips to the theater because this summer's films simply don't look appealing.

Jake and SJP are huge overseas: "Sex and the City 2" and "Prince of Persia" may not have been massive successes in the States. But both Memorial Day releases are doing very well in foreign markets. "SATC 2" has generated $90 million in international revenues (compared to $73.4 million in North America), while "Persia" has earned $156.4 million internationally, significantly more than the $59.4 it amassed stateside. Apparently people who reside in other corners of the globe love to see Jake Gyllenhaal flashing his pecs and Sarah Jessica Parker complaining about a husband who has the audacity to give her a flat-screen TV instead of jewelry.

Coming this Friday: '80s retro weekend at the box office! Both "The A-Team" and "The Karate Kid" open. Does either one have a chance at pushing ticket sales back into an upswing? We shall see. In the meantime, feel free to predict the box office winner in the poll below.

By Jen Chaney  | June 7, 2010; 1:16 PM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Box Office, Movies  
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Next: 'Grease' is the word ... unless it's dirty


Huh. Beats me. I just got around to watching "The Hangover" OnDemand over the weekend in the comfort of my own home. With all the money I shell out for cable I need to get my money's worth from those bloodsuckers.

Posted by: kbockl | June 7, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

It's Shrek. Never underestimate the power of kids. Do you know how loud a 3 year old can scream?

Posted by: reddragon1 | June 7, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who thinks Will Smith ought to stop putting his own kids in his own productions? The little bob marley clone ruined "The Day The Earth Stood Still For Me" with his petulant whining. Oops I mean plaintive whining. Oops I mean stellar acting skills. Not that the flick was a masterpiece anyway.

Posted by: biffgrifftheoneandonly | June 7, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The Hollywood brain trust should look at 1)how much price of admission is vs. On Demand/Netflix 2)then attend a movie at a regular theatre - not their private screening rooms - where they can enjoy being assaulted by incessant ads, disturbed by people using their cell phones at all times, and gouged by the concession prices 3)then finally realize that capitalism works and people are simply taking their business elsewhere.

3-D THAT, Hollywood, and file it under "DUH".

Posted by: Section416akatheAlps | June 7, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

It's really simple. The theaters raised their prices too much. I'm not paying $11-16 per ticket to see a first run movie, which when you add in popcorn etc, runs up to $50. No thank you. I'll only go see a movie now if I can get their for the before noon discount prices.

Posted by: jeffgopack | June 8, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

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