So 2011 fizzled at the movies. Attendance and box office were down by some measures back to 1996 levels.
The familiar franchises did OK, but audiences avoided plenty of good to near-great movies, as well as the weak ones. The mega-hits were few and very far between.
And the holidays were a sobering experience for those banking on brand names like Spielberg ("War Horse," "The Adventures of Tintin") or Matt Damon ("We Bought a Zoo") to pack them in.
The awards contenders may gather some steam as the conversation turns toward Oscar. But right now, they're a pretty anemic looking lot.
The 3-D boom turned bust. So when you see previews of a coming attraction in 3D - and there are scores of those in 2012 - be certain that the studios want you to know that the title will also be shown in 2-D, for those who don't want to spend 3-D money.
What about 2012? There are more 3-D titles, more remakes and sequels and more movies aimed at the overseas audience.
But Bella is back ("Breaking Dawn" Part 2, Nov. 21), and Bond ("Skyfall," Nov. 7).
And Batman. Bourne returns ("The Bourne Legacy," Aug. 3) without Jason Bourne or Matt Damon. And those "Men in Black" are back. So are "The Expendables," Tyler Perry, Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained," Dec. 25) "Ghost Rider," Barnabas Collins (Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows," May 11), the "Madagascar" zoo animals (June 8) and the extinct stand-up comics of "Ice Age" (July 13). And those "American Pie" kids. Why, why, more "American Pie" ("American Reunion," April 6)?
"Finding Nemo," "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" and "Beauty and the Beast" return in 3-D.
Remakes? "Judge Dredd" ("Dredd," Sept. 21), "Total Recall" (Aug. 3) and even Spider-Man ("The Amazing Spider-Man," July 3).
We have dueling Snow Whites ("Mirror Mirror," Mar. 16, "Snow White and the Huntsman," June 1); dueling Abe Lincolns (Spielberg's "Lincoln" in December and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," June 22). And more serial killers, zombies and Jason Statham and Adam Sandler movies than you can shake a disdainful stick at.
"Haywire" (Jan. 20): Will the possibly-retiring-soon Steven Soderbergh make a movie star out of martial artist Gina Carano?
"This Means War" (Feb. 17): Reese Witherspoon two-timing secret agents Chris Pine and Tom Hardy. The trailers are hilarious.
"The Raven" (Mar. 9): John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe, hunting a killer who is inspired by his stories. When did he find time to drink himself to death?
"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" (Mar. 9): Ewan McGregor is a fisheries expert trying to help an Arab sheik blow his cash on creating a fly fishing mecca in the desert.
"The Hunger Games" (Mar. 23): This sci-fi adaptation of a popular series of books is being hyped as the teen audience replacement for "Twilight."
"Wettest County" (April 20): Shia LaBeouf tucked into an all-star cast in the middle of a West Virginia moonshining war during the Depression. This one sells itself.
"The Dark Knight Rises" (July 20): The trailers suggest that this will tap into the world zeitgeist, with the villains out for payback from the 1 percent.
"Frankenweenie" (Oct. 5): Tim Burton revisits one of the short films about a mad scientist lad named Vincent who brings his weiner dog back to life.
"The Gangster Squad" (Oct. 20): Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte and Josh Brolin star in this drama about the efforts of the LAPD to keep the mob out of 1940s Los Angeles.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (Dec. 14): Peter Jackson goes back to Middle Earth with a song in his heart.
"World War Z" (Dec. 21): Brad Pitt stars in the cinematic climax to Zombiemania? One would hope.
"The Great Gatsby" (Dec. 25): Baz Luhrmann cast Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, but Brits and Aussies in most of the other roles for this film.