As the new year rings in, moviegoing has dropped to a 16-year low, domestic revenues are down for the first time in six years and young people are AWOL. So how does Hollywood solve the problem?
Just before Christmas, the unthinkable occurred: Hollywood studios, the fabled masters of managing headlines, ran out of spin. There was no getting around the cold, hard truth that movie attendance had tumbled to a 16-year low and that the domestic box office was in trouble. Revenues for 2011 topped out at $10.21 billion, down at least 3.4 percent from 2010, following six years of relative growth. There were a string of embarrassing and costly studio misses, from Mars Needs Moms to Cowboys & Aliens, although the year ended on a high note with a strong holiday, led improbably, some might have guessed given Tom Cruise's ups and downs, by Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol.