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Movie audiences shrink below post-Sept. 11 level

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By Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood’s holidays are off to a dreadful start: Fewer people went to the movies the last two weekends than during the box-office hush that followed the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years ago.
Domestic revenues tumbled to a 2011 low of about $77 million this weekend, when the star-filled, holiday-themed romance “New Year’s Eve” debuted at No. 1 with a weak $13.7 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
It’s the worst weekend in more than three years, since the weekend after Labor Day in 2008, when revenues amounted to $67.6 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com. And it comes after an $81 million total a week earlier that had been this year’s previous low.
“It’s unbelievable how bad it is,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Jonah Hill’s comedy “The Sitter” opened at No. 2 with just $10 million.
Divided by this year’s average ticket price of $7.96, the combined $158 million haul means only an estimated 19.8 million people went to the movies the last two weekends. Based on the average ticket price, this year’s top-grossing film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” drew more people all by itself over opening weekend.


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