Film ticket sales in North America have fallen for the first time since 1991, despite several strong opening weekends and increased ticket prices.
Finding Nemo was one of the big hits of 2003
According to box office auditors Exhibitor Relations, ticket sales in 2003 fell 0.5% to $9.27bn (£5.17bn).
The number of actual tickets sold fell by 4.5%, from 1.6bn to 1.53bn, a steeper than usual decline.
Twenty five films, including the hit animation Finding Nemo, made more than $100m (£55.8m) in the US.
Other films, including the Tolkien finale The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Matrix: Reloaded, fared well at the box office.
But the 2003 figures could not compete with 2002, which included massive hits such as Spider-Man and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, as well as the second Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films.
A portion of the lower sales has been blamed on the disappointing audiences for sequels such as Legally Blonde 2 and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
The average cost of a movie in the US is now $6.03 (£3.36), but has hit $10 (£5.58) in some bigger cities.
Highlights for 2004 are expected to include the third Harry Potter film in June, as well as Spider-Man 2 and Batman spin-off Catwoman the following month.
This year has already started markedly stronger than beginning of last year, with ticket sales up 14.5% compared to the start of 2003.