Has lack of family fare hurt box office numbers in 2013?

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 4 2013 3:20 p.m. MDT

“Jack the Giant Slayer” only managed to make about $61 million in domestic box office. Even with $96 million from foreign markets so far, it will be hard pressed to make a profit against its $195 million budget.

Only Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” proved to be the kind of huge success studios were hoping to see in the first part of March.

As just the second movie this year to crack $100 million in domestic revenue (compared to last year, where, in the same timeframe, six movies had managed that feat), “Oz” has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal first quarter.

Closing in on $200 million in domestic revenue, with an additional $214 million from overseas, it easily tops the overall box office so far this year.

Other March highlights include DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods,” the first big-budget animated feature of 2013, and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” which scored the second-largest Easter opening ever with an estimated $41.2 million.

With 2013’s first quarter so far behind last year’s box office, though, industry analysts must be wondering if we’re in for a repeat of 2011. As Fithian told Deadline, despite huge films like “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” “In 2012 our summer and fall were not record breaking types of numbers. It was the first quarter in 2012 that was out-of-control record breaking.”

However, it hasn't just been a lack of variety, including for family audiences, that has caused 2013 to falter. The overall quality of movies released during the first quarter has, generally speaking, been abysmal.

Only three movies that appeared in wide release during the entire three-month stretch earned more than 70 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes — “Warm Bodies” (79 percent), “Quartet” (79 percent) and “Side Effects” (85 percent).

Add to that the fact that average ticket prices rose to $8.05 from last year’s all-time high of $7.96, and there just isn’t enough incentive for most people to go to the movies anymore.

Still, Fithian says he is optimistic for the remainder of 2013. With some of the year’s major releases just around the corner, including “Iron Man 3” and the Christopher Nolan-produced Superman reboot, “Man of Steel,” the box office could be about to take off in a big way.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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