The weak box office sales this past weekend made it clear that the year is going to end with a whimper. Regal’s shares fell 8.7%, making it the biggest loser among the theater chains followed by Carmike (-4.9%) and Cinemark (-2.9%). Companies closely aligned with theaters also suffered: 3-D technology provider RealD fell 6.2% while ad seller National Cinemedia was off nearly 3%. “The hoped-for 4Q11 box office pop is slipping away,” says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett. Ticket sales so far this quarter are down about 6.9% vs the same period last year, he says. He predicts the quarter will end down 1.9% following an expected surge of Christmas weekend turnout for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol as it goes into wide release, Warner Bros’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Sony’s The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and Paramount’s The Adventures Of Tintin.

Separately, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield lowered his 2012 earnings estimate for Dreamworks Animation to $1.08 a share from $1.25. He says that DVD and Blu-ray sales of Kung Fu Panda 2 are lower than he expected due to the “rapid decline in the DVD business.” He also slashed his overseas box office estimate for Puss In Boots to $300.3M from $342.6M “Despite the strength in Russia, Puss And Boots’ international box office has not lived up to our expectations (only major markets yet to open are Scandavia and Japan),” Greenfield says.

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...
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