No "Avatar" equals no Christmas cheer in Hollywood.
The holiday season has been a box-office bust, and the biggest problem may be that this year's mid-December releases -- "Little Fockers" and "Tron Legacy" -- were going up against the historic revenue racked up a year earlier by pioneering 3-D smash hit "Avatar."
After its opening weekend on Dec. 18 of last year, "Avatar" dominated theaters, driving total US movie-ticket sales of $507.9 million as it led the box office during eight of its first 10 days in release, according to Box Office Mojo.
By comparison, movie-ticket sales plunged 28 percent to $365.4 million during the 10-day period through this weekend.
While some theaters may have blamed the snow that has kept millions of moviegoers home along the East Coast, business this year was already "down sharply" before the arrival of the storms, notes Richard Greenfield of BTIG Research.
"Remember that when 'Avatar' opened, a major snowstorm hit the East Coast as well," Greenfield added. The bigger problem for the industry, Greenfield says, is that "3-D is not the panacea studios hoped it would be."
During the past 12 months, moviegoers have balked at high prices for a string of 3-D releases that have been uneven in quality, according to Greenfield. "Yogi Bear," a 3-D release that flopped on its opening weekend after being roundly panned by critics, can be a tough sell for parents at $13 a head in Manhattan, he notes.
"Technology doesn't make a film good," Greenfield told The Post.
Since the initial euphoria around "Avatar," other issues have cropped up with 3-D movies. In addition to an average upcharge of nearly 50 percent per ticket, moviegoers must grapple with "annoying glasses that substantially dim the light of a movie and which young children spend more time playing with than wearing," according to Greenfield, who said the novelty appears to be wearing off.
"Did a Jack Black comedy, 'Gulliver's Travels,' really need to be in 3-D?" he asked.