Hollywood's summer heads south as attendance fizzles

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Studio executives expected their biggest summer ever this year as they loaded their lineup with huge action movies and superhero franchises.

What they got were two colossal blockbusters, a handful of backup hits and plenty of duds that just didn’t deliver, resulting in what may prove the lowest summer movie attendance in 20 years.

While domestic revenues are projected to come in as the second-best ever, the number of tickets sold shrank to about 532 million from the first weekend in May through Labor Day, down 4 percent from summer 2011, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

If that holds by the time final ticket sales are counted through today, that would be the smallest audiences Hollywood has packed in for its busiest season dating back to 1993, the earliest summer revenue data maintained by Hollywood.com.

Revenues should finish at $4.27 billion from the first weekend in May through Labor Day, down 3 percent from the record of $4.4 billion set last summer, said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

Overall summer revenues through Sunday were down slightly compared to the same period a year ago. Domestic sales totaled $102 million, off 4.6 percent from last year’s Labor Day weekend.

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