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Movie attendance is way down this spring

Movie attendance is way down this spring — Last year’s ”The Passion” sold more than twice the tickets of 2005’s top movie ”Hitch”

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If the last movie you saw at the multiplex was Meet the Fockers, you’re not alone. For eight weeks, theater attendance has been down, compared to a year ago. True, last spring’s box office was goosed by the anomalous smash The Passion of the Christ, which sold some 58 million tickets — a near-impossible act to follow (2005’s top-grosser, Hitch, has sold 27 million tix). ”Maybe audiences are waiting for the big summer movies,” says Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations. While ever-increasing DVD revenues fill studio coffers, theater owners can only hope the trend will be reversed by the summer slate — which accounts for 40 percent of annual theatrical earnings. ”Once Star Wars opens [big, on May 19],” Dergarabedian adds, ”this spring slump stuff will be a distant memory.” From his lips to Darth’s ears.