Despite a modest increase in 2007 box office receipts, moviedom is trudging into January with a droop in its shoulders.
Ticket sales at North American movie theaters totaled $9.7 billion, a 4 percent increase over the previous year, according to Media by Numbers, a box office tracking company. But attendance was flat, after a narrow increase in 2006 and three previous years of sharp declines. Movie fans bought about 1.42 billion tickets last year, according to Media by Numbers. The high watermark of the last 10 years came in 2002, when moviegoers bought about 1.61 billion tickets.
The results last year were largely driven by expensive sequels like "Spider-Man 3" (the top-grossing film) and "Shrek the Third" (the runner-up), although a handful of expert marketing campaigns turned some oddball entries like "Alvin and the Chipmunks" into bona fide hits. One surefire franchise was born to Paramount and DreamWorks in "Transformers" (which placed third).