Despite the box office record set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (which I just saw on DVD--great effects, but the movie makes no sense), Hollywood didn't have a blockbuster 2006. In terms of tickets sold, it was up just 1% from the dismal 2005 (corrected for population expansion, that's no growth at all), and still dramatically down from 2002-2004, which were the last good years before the DVD/home theater boom fragmented the audience even more than VHS had before.
Here's the chart:
Stats from BoxOfficeMojo (sub req'd for detailed numbers)
In revenue terms, the picture looks a bit better, thanks to increased ticket prices--2006 was up 4% from the bleak 2005, although still down from 2003-04.
The Hollywood Reporter has a good year-end wrapup (note that its numbers are slightly different from BoxOfficeMojo's, although it doesn't give a source for them). Excerpts:
By some standards, 2006's crop of hits were not quite as robust as the biggest movies of 2005 -- or years before that. Only one film passed $300 million this year and last, while three films reached more than $300 million in 2004 and two each were in that category in 2003 and 2002.
This year, "Dead Man's Chest" might have gone on to pass the $400 million mark -- a mark that wasn't reached in 2005 -- but only five other films grossed more than $200 million domestically during the year, two fewer than last year.
There were more wide releases (movies bowing in more than 1,000 theaters) this year than last -- 160 vs. 145. But fewer movies received ultrawide bows of 3,000 theaters or more, as those releases were scaled back from 55 in 2005 to 52 this year.
Possibly as a result, the average opening-weekend gross for a new film slipped to $16.9 million from $17.6 million in 2005. On average, movies debuted in slightly fewer theaters -- 2,543 this year vs. 2,591 last year -- but scored a slightly lower per-theater average. This year it was $6,663, compared with $6,782 last year. As for average second-weekend drops, they were slightly steeper this year -- 45 percent vs. last year's 43 percent.