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The Morning Fix: Legendary East goes south; year-end box office

December 30, 2011 |  9:32 am

The Skinny: It's the last work day of 2011, but I'm resisting the urge to bring you a "best of The Morning Fix." Although I kind of wish I had the time to put together a list of regular Fixer Joe Flint's best zingers. Your final news roundup of the year includes funding problems for Legendary East, a look behind the decline in box-office attendance this year, and a ruling over who owns second-string comic book character Ghost Rider.

Behind the box-office numbers: 2011 continued an ongoing trend of declining attendance at America's movie theaters. In a year-end box-office analysis, the Los Angeles Times notes that the cause is primarily that fewer and fewer people are going to movies after opening. If they're not excited enough to go immediately, they'll just wait for the DVD or video-on-demand. Also, a look at what the trend means for exhibition companies. The Hollywood Reporter looks at the stats as well.

Not quite Legendary yet: China may be the hottest movie market in the world, but raising money still isn't a piece of cake. Legendary East, the China venture of Thomas Tull's Legendary Entertainment, has had to delay plans to raise $220 million on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange because it couldn't find enough investors this year. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Giving up the ghost: With a second "Ghost Rider" movie coming out in February, the writer of the original comic was looking to claim ownership of the Marvel Comics character (and all the royalties that come with it) in court. But a federal judge ruled that the writer gave up rights in 1972 when he cashed a check from Marvel, and that the creation of the character involved multiple people. Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter have the news.

Mission to win again: With no new movies opening nation-wide, Tom Cruise is likely to top the box office over New Year's weekend just like he did over Christmas. Perhaps the bigger question is whether there's any kind of a comeback brewing for "Sherlock Holmes" or "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (both are sequels with long subtitles that I will spare you), and whether any of the middle-of-the-pack movies like "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "War Horse" and "We Bought a Zoo" will prove more resilient. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: Summit Entertainment is still for sale, but a deal won't close this year. Betsy Sharkey reviews "The Iron Lady." Kenneth Turan reviews the Iranian film "A Separation."  Underappreciated films of 2011.

-- Ben Fritz