Box Office Bonanza or Bust in 2012?

Overall, 2011 was a very forgettable year for the movie industry. Domestic box office declined 3.7% from a year earlier and 4.2% fewer tickets were sold overall. Other than the final installment of the Harry Potter series, the year offered very little in the way of memorable films.

There is hope in the industry that 2012 may break a two-year slide in domestic box office and bring moviegoers back out in droves. Well-known properties like Men in Black, Batman, Spiderman, and Dr. Seuss are making an appearance, and there are some hopeful contenders for breakout films.

IMAX (NYS: IMAX) , for one, would love to see the return of box-office action. The company saw profits slide in 2011 after it rode Avatar to new heights in 2010. Here are a few of the films that may lift Hollywood and by extension IMAX in 2012:

  • The Avengers -- Disney (NYS: DIS) is extending its Marvel collection with this film, which should perform well just based on fanboy box office.

  • The Dark Knight Rises -- Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy closes with what is sure to be among the top-grossing films of the year, if not #1.

  • Movies from Warner Brothers -- Time Warner's (NYS: TWX) film unit is releasing Wrath of the Titans in March, a film that isn't getting a lot of love pre-release, and will follow with Dark Shadows and Gravity later in the year. Warner Brothers caps the year with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which may save the year.

  • Big franchises from Sony (NYS: SNE) -- Men in Black III and The Amazing Spider-Man come out this summer. While neither film comes with the same hype as their predecessors, franchises like these still command a lot of box-office attention. And let's not forget about the 23rd installment of the James Bond series, Skyfall, due in November.

  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 -- The Twilight series will also come to an end this year. The first four have been very consistent and there's no reason to think the streak won't continue.

Action films appears to be alive and well and will dominate the 2012 box office. Whether that will inspire moviegoers, however, is yet to be determined.

Where's the 3-D?
A few big films will be released in 3-D in 2012, including Wrath of the Titans, Men in Black III, and The Avengers, but the industry focus on 3-D appears to be gone. It will be interesting to watch how RealD (NYS: RLD) performs in 2012 with 3-D taking a bit of a back seat. I think 3-D quality will go up, but will it translate to better box office and stronger profits for the 3-D focused company?

The coming year poses a lot of questions that can be answered only at the box office.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorTravis Hoiumowns shares of IMAX and Disney. You can follow Travis on Twitter at@FlushDrawFool, check out hispersonal stock holdingsor follow his CAPS picks atTMFFlushDraw.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of IMAX and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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