Trouble in Tinseltown

Turnstiles have been slowing at domestic theaters for much of the past decade, with only a brief respite in 2006 and a short-lived spike in attendance in 2009 due to the release of Avatar, the highest-grossing film of all time. Ticket-price inflation and the introduction of 3D films helped mask the effect for a while, but with the 3D premium eroding as the novelty has worn off and the weak economy and growing competition for entertainment dollars now keeping overall ticket inflation in check, the erosion of the movie audience is plain to see.

Hollywood Gouges Theater-goers for Record Summer Box Office

Hollywood studios are riding high on record box office receipts, despite the lowest attendance in five years. Those record revenues are mostly the result of higher ticket prices for 3-D and other premium films showings, but come as theaters have raised prices for nearly all films.

Vid-Biz: DirecTV, Netflix, Holiday Box Office

DirecTV to Launch a 3-D Channel; the satellite TV provider plans to launch the first U.S. 3-D HDTV channel early next year. (HD Guru) It will also deliver more than 200 HD channels with the launch of its latest satellite. (Multichannel News)

Netflix’s Video Streaming Will Attract Investors, Suitors; Susquehanna Financial Group says investors should buy Netflix now before someone else buys it later. (Video Business)

Studios Make Bigger Push for Digital Sales; cable television network Showtime has begun selling episodes of its hit series Weeds online weeks ahead of the DVD release. (Wall Street Journal)

Holiday Box Office Breaks Records; the domestic box office tallied its biggest weekend in history, with an estimated $280 million in revenues. (Video Business)

Broadcasters’ Woes Could Spell Trouble for Free TV; the current business model at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox is unraveling, as cable TV and the web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. (Associated Press)

Amazon Sold About 100K Blu-ray Players Over the Holiday; the online retailer said the players it sold would stretch more than 27 miles, which would equal about 100,600 devices. (Video Business)

Today in Connected Consumer

Twentieth Century-Fox’s 3-D extravaganza, “Avatar,” got off to a slower than expected start over the weekend as record-breaking snowfall kept many on the East Coast away from theaters. But the numbers will likely improve as the snow melts, adding a last-minute jolt to what has turned out to be a pretty solid year for Hollywood at the box office. Attendance was up and so were receipts, thanks to an increase in premium-priced tickets for 3-D showings. Meanwhile, things are looking up on the small screen, too.

Vid-Biz: Vudu, Bright House, TV Ads

Vudu Debuts New High-End Box; the XL2 Internet movie player is designed for home theater installation, lets users download and watch movies in Vudu’s high-def HDX format; can going high end save the troubled set-top company? (emailed release)
Bright House Launches Road Runner Video Store; online VOD site will offer movies for rent or purchase from TV networks and movie studios, similar to Comcast’s Fancast site. (CED)
eMarketer: U.S. TV Ad Spending to Decline in 2009; research company says the ad spend will drop 4.2 percent next year to $66.9 billion, online video ad spending as a percent of TV ad spending to grow from less than 1 percent this year to 1.7 percent in 2010. (eMarketer)
DivX Sues Yahoo Over Toolbars; lawsuit comes after Yahoo backed out of a two-year agreement; DivX has not yet removed the toolbar option from its downloads. (Rueters with additional reporting by NewTeeVee)
Sanctuary Picked Up for Second Season; former web series finds success on Sci-Fi Channel, moves on to sophomore outing. (Hero Complex Blog)
Xbox Adds Magnolia Pictures to its Marketplace; films like The Host and The World’s Fastest Indian added to the lineup of movies offered. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Theatrical Movie Revenues Up, Attendance Down; at $8.148 billion, the 2008 box office tally has already surpassed 2007 — but attendance is down 3.56 percent. (Deadline Hollywood Daily)