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Hollywood Sales Record Depends on ‘Tron,’ ‘Yogi Bear’

Ticket sales for holiday movies including Walt Disney Co.’s “Tron: Legacy” and Time Warner Inc.’s “Yogi Bear” will decide whether Hollywood posts a second consecutive year of record revenue.

A weak November has put the chances for another record in jeopardy. Even with the drop, 2010 is Hollywood’s second-highest grossing year, with $9.9 billion in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales as of Dec. 12, according to Hollywood.com Box-Office.

That leaves $700 million to go for total box office to pass last year’s $10.6 billion. While “Tron” and “Yogi Bear” will benefit from the added revenue that 3-D surcharges generate, they’re up against comparisons with 2009’s surprise hit “The Blind Side” and “Avatar,” the top-grossing movie of all time.

“Even with higher ticket prices it’s going to be really tough” to exceed last year’s sales, Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com’s box-office unit, said in an interview. “We may end up a little shy.”

“Tron” took in $3.6 million from midnight showings, according to Hollywood.com. That includes a $1 million, or a record 28 percent, from Imax screens, the researcher said.

The film may take in as much as $55 million over the weekend, Dergarabedian said. Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru.com, predicts $40 million.

In August, Dergarabedian predicted that 2010 sales may reach $11 billion, helped by the 24 three-dimensional movies planned for release this year. Studios released 14 3-D movies in 2009.

Declining Sales

After five straight weekends of declining sales, another record year is too close to call, Dergarabedian said. Movie attendance fell 14 percent from Nov. 5 to Dec. 12, according to Hollywood.com. Sales fell 9.2 percent to $1.08 billion, compared with $1.19 billion in the same period last year.

“Tron,” a 3-D sequel to the 1982 film about a man trapped inside a video game, and “Yogi Bear,” based on the television cartoon character, open today. Movies opening next week include the Jack Black comedy “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Little Fockers,” the third in the series starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

This year, 3-D movies including “Toy Story 3” and “Alice in Wonderland” have helped lift total revenue 1.5 percent. During the same period, attendance is down 3.5 percent.

“The Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock, was made for about $29 million and generated $256 million in the U.S. and Canada.

“We don’t have a big surprise like this that goes over $200 million,” Pandya said, referring to this year’s films.

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net.

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