Tarnished year for silver screen
Despite some big hits, ticket sales fell for the 2nd straight year. Can Hollywood rebound in '06?
By Paul R. La Monica, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Most movie studio executives are probably glad that 2005 is finally over.

Sure, some films that were expected to do monster box office ("Star Wars: Episode III", "War of the Worlds" and "Batman Begins," for example) delivered. And there were a few surprise blockbusters too. (Check out the gallery to the right for a look.)

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But a handful of hits was not enough to overcome the fact that people just didn't seem to be interested in going out to the multiplex as much as they once were.

According to data from box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Company, movie attendance was down more than 7 percent from a year ago as of December 25. That marks the second year in a row that attendance declined on an annual basis. And as a result of this year's slump, domestic box office receipts decreased 5.2 percent from 2004.

Some industry observers were pleased by the strong end to the year, as "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" performed well. But "King Kong", perhaps the most eagerly anticipated movie of the year, has not lived up to lofty expectations, leading some to wonder what, if anything, can get back people to the theaters.

What's ailing the movie industry? Did rising ticket prices and overpriced tubs of popcorn keep people away? Are moviegoers simply more interested in staying home and watching DVDs that they rented from Netflix on their home theater systems? Or maybe, consumers are just bored with the derivative fare that Hollywood has to offer? It's probably a combination of all these factors.

Still, Hollywood is known as a hopeful place where the sun always shines. So it's not surprising that many are predicting a box office comeback in 2006. After all, there seems to be several surefire hits coming out, including sequels "X-Men 3" and "Mission: Impossible 3," the movie adaptation of the best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code" and Pixar's latest movie, "Cars."

So here's a look back at the best (and worst) that Hollywood had to offer in 2005.

After a strong end of the year, movie industry analysts are optimistic that 2006 will be better. To find out why, click here.

Despite the box office slump, some Wall Street pros are betting on movie theater chain stocks. Should you? And what about IMAX? Is there big money to be made from big movie screens?

Hollywood should hate software company BitTorrent but it doesn't. FORTUNE Magazine explains why. And for more on how Hollywood won a big court battle against piracy, click here.

Do you like scary movies? You're not alone. Click here to read more about how horror movies fared in 2005...if you dare.

Illegal downloads and Netflix have caused the box office malaise. At least that's what Hollywood would like you to believe. Click here.

Is the DVD boom over? Click here to find out.

In a galaxy not that far away, a lot of people got rich off of "Star Wars." For more about the force of The Force, click here. Top of page

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