Are Crappy Films Behind the Drop in Movie-Ticket Sales?

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<i>Sucker Punch</i>: big budget, bad reviews.

Cinema owners are seeing a drop in the number of people in theater seats this year. It might be because of the price of tickets, it might be because of crowds, and it even might be because of people who just won’t shut up while the film is running.

But could it be because the flicks just aren’t that good?

(More on TIME.com: See the 100 best movies of all-TIME)

Executives at theater companies attending a Las Vegas convention seem to think so. About 6,000 owners, vendors and officials gathered at CinemaCon to discuss and celebrate their industry. But the 20% drop in attendance is not necessarily because of the economy. In fact, movie attendance is known to increase during hard times. So what is it?

“I think it all boils down to the quality of the movies,” Gerry Lopez, chief executive of AMC Entertainment told the Los Angeles Times. “This year we just haven’t had those kind of movies that cut across all quadrants of age, race and income.”

Ticket sales for theater owners are the worst they’ve seen in six years. Other consumer behavior like the draw toward streaming Netflix movies is also causing concern. But an important sign, they say, is the poor response to films like Sucker Punch and Mars Needs Moms.

(More on TIME.com: Read Richard Corliss’ review of Sucker Punch.)

But the anticipated summer blockbuster season is still ahead. Mega-budget features like Captain America: The First Avenger, The Hangover II, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides are expected to bring in throngs of moviegoers. They’d better, because theater companies haven’t been upbeat about what’s been on the projectors lately.

“So far there is just nothing terribly compelling about what we’re delivering as an industry,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

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