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Can Superheroes Save the Hollywood Box Office?

Daily Ticker

Can Superman Beat Iron Man? Warner Bros. sure hopes so. The studio’s $225 million Superman reboot “Man of Steel" will open in 4,207 theaters this weekend and is expected to be the blockbuster of the summer.

The last time Superman hit theaters was in 2006 with "Superman Returns." Producers of "Man of Steel" are hoping their version of Superman will not only revive the sleepy comic book franchise but also become a bigger box office draw than "Iron Man 3" -- which has collected $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

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Blockbusters have earned $11 billion in profits so far this year, according to Lynda Obst, a long-time Hollywood movie producer and author of the new book, Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business.

Hollywood no longer makes movies says Obst, who produced "Sleepless in Seattle," "Contact" and "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."

“We make franchises, sequels, reboots…movies that are basically an enterprise for future movies. We don’t make them because they’re good, we make them because they’re a business proposition that can be doubled, tripled or quadruped into six or seven future movies,” she tells The Daily Ticker.

Since 1995, 10 of the top 19 grossing movies have been franchise films. Six starred superheroes.

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Obst says Hollywood no longer wants to appeal to Americans, with the focus instead on international sales. ‘That’s where the big profits are coming from," she says.

And Hollywood needs them -- especially because of new competition from streaming video and on-demand movies. Obst says new technology and the resulting DVD crash wiped out half of the profits in Tinseltown.

Movie moguls have decided to rely on markets where the profits are steady such as overseas destinations like China.

China is currently the No. 2 market for movies and is on track to be No. 1 by 2020, Obst says. Theaters are closing in the U.S. as new picture houses are popping up all over China, especially Imax and 3-D theaters.

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“That means that the product we’re going to make is going to be 3-D and Imax movies. That’s what the world wants from us,” says Obst.

Ticket sales in the U.S and Canada rose 6% in 2012 while sales in China gained 36%. The number of movies released in the U.S. in 2012 fell 9% to 128 while the number released globally rose more than 10% to 677.

What does award-winning producer Linda Obst hope that Hollywood will do to remedy this situation? Watch the video above to find out!

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