The Hollywood Reporterweighs in with 2008's projected box office tally from Nielsen EDI (the official keepers of the box office numbers for the MPAA and NATO) and it looks mighty sweet:
Meanwhile, buoyed by good weekday numbers and potentially strong holds over the holiday weekend, overall domestic boxoffice is poised to set a record. As of Sunday, 2008's year-to-date boxoffice stood at $9.45 billion, according to Nielsen EDI. By the close of business Sunday -- bringing down the curtain on the boxoffice year -- 2008 should surpass 2007's record haul of $9.62 billion by a couple of percentage points.
The final admissions tally won't be known until the end of January, when the year's average ticket price is calculated, but we expect it to be a little behind 2007.
WBTV 3 in Charlotte has Will Smith for the premiere of Seven Pounds, but first they want to tell you how the movie theater business is doing (They get the average ticket price wrong in the report; it's really $7.20. The $7.97 figure is what a $2.23 average ticket in 1977 would cost today.):
The Golden Globe nominations are out this morning. Read the list below and place your bets.
And go see a movie.
BEST FEATURE - DRAMA
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" - Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures
"Frost/Nixon" - Imagine Entertainment, Working Title, Studio Canal; Universal Pictures
"The Reader" - Mirage Enterprises; The Weinstein Company
"Revolutionary Road" - An Evamere Entertainment BBC Films Neal Street Production; DreamWorks Pictures in Association with BBC Films and Paramount Vantage
"Slumdog Millionaire" -Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.; Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.
BEST FEATURE - COMEDY
"Burn After Reading" - Working Title/Releasing Company; Focus Features in association with Studio Canal
"Happy-Go-Lucky" - Summit Entertainment, Film4, Ingenious Film Partners, Miramax Films; Miramax Films
"In Bruges" - Blueprint Pictures; Focus Features
"Mamma Mia!" - Relativity Media, Playtone, Littlestar; Universal Pictures
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" - Mediapro; The Weinstein Company
ACTOR - DRAMA
Leonardo DiCaprio - "Revolutionary Road"
Frank Langella - "Frost/Nixon"
Sean Penn - "Milk"
Brad Pitt - "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Mickey Rouke - "The Wrestler"
ACTRESS - DRAMA
Anne Hathaway - "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie - "Changeling"
Meryl Streep - "Doubt"
Kristin Scott Thomas - "I've Loved You So Long"
Kate Winslet - "Revolutionary Road"
ACTOR - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Javier Bardem - "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Colin Farrell - "In Bruges"
James Franco - "Pineapple Express"
Brendan Gleeson - "In Bruges"
Dustin Hoffman - "Last Chance Harvey"
ACTRESS - COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Rebecca Hall - "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Sally Hawkins - "Happy-Go-Lucky"
Frances McDormand - "Burn After Reading"
Meryl Streep - "Mamma Mia!"
Emma Thompson - "Last Chance Harvey"
DIRECTOR - MOTION PICTURE
Danny Boyle - "Slumdog Millionaire"
Stephen Daldry -"The Reader"
David Fincher -"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
Ron Howard - "Frost/Nixon"
Sam Mendes -"Revolutionary Road"
Tom Cruise, "Tropic Thunder"
Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"
Ray Fiennes, "The Duchess"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"
Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
Amy Adams, "Doubt"
Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler"
Kate Winslet, "The Reader"
SCREENPLAY - MOTION PICTURE
Simon Beaufoy - "Slumdog Millionaire"
David Hare - "The Reader"
Peter Morgan - "Frost/Nixon"
Peter Morgan - "Frost/Nixon"
Eric Roth - "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
John Patrick Shanley - "Doubt"
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"The Baader Meinhof Complex" ("Der badder meinhof komplex")(Germany) - Constantin Film Produktion GmbH; Summit Entertainment, LLC
"Everlasting Moments" ("Maria larssons eviga ögonblick") (Sweden) - Final Cut Productions Aps; IFC Films
"Gomorrah" ("Gomorra") (Italy) - Fandango; IFC Films
"I've Loved You So Long" ("Il y a longtemps que je t'aime") (France) - UGC YM/UGC Images/France 3 Cinema/Integral Film; Sony Pictures Classics
"Waltz with Bashir" (Israel) - Bridgit Folman Film Gang/Les Films D'Ici/Razor Films/Arte France/ITVS International; Sony Pictures
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
"Bolt" - Walt Disney Pictures; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
"Kung Fu Panda" - DreamWorks Animation SKG; Paramount Pictures
"Wall-E" - Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Alexandre Desplat - "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
Clint Eastwood - "Changeling"
James Newton Howard - "Defiance"
A. R. Rahman - "Slumdog Millionaire"
Hans Zimmer - "Frost/Nixon"
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Down To Earth" from "Wall-E" - Music By: Peter Gabriel, Thomas Newman; Lyrics By: Peter Gabriel
"Gran Torino" from "Gran Torino" - Music By: Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens; Lyrics By: Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens
"I Thought I Lost You" from "Bolt" - Music & Lyrics By: Miley Cyrus, Jeffrey Steele
"Once In A Lifetime" from "Cadillac Records"
Music & Lyrics By: Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott Mcfarnon, Ian Dench, James Dring, Jody Street
"The Wrestler" from "The Wrestler" - Music & Lyrics By: Bruce Springsteen
Digital Cinema Implementation Partners (DCIP), a consortium of exhibitors Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Theatres and Cinemark, announced they have struck a deal with five Hollywood studios to support their digital cinema rollout. According to AP:
Five Hollywood studios have agreed to help pay for a $1 billion-plus rollout of digital technology on about 20,000 movie screens in North America, a precursor to showing movies in 3-D.
Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, a consortium of major theater chains, announced the deal Wednesday. The rollout in the U.S. and Canada, covering about half of all screens, is planned to start early next year.
DCIP topper Travis Reid noted that the rollout remains contingent on securing financing for the deal - a difficult task in the midst of the ongoing credit crisis.
"We'll be needing to execute in the debt markets and we hope to do that during the fourth quarter," Reid said. "We don't believe that the markets will be closed forever."
With a deal in place for the largest U.S. theater chains, it is time to conclude a similar digital cinema agreement for the hundreds of independent cinemas and thousands of screens not covered by this agreement. It is imperative for the health of the industry and for the millions of moviegoers in small towns and cities that the benefits of digital cinema be spread as widely as possible.
NATO, through the Cinema Buying Group (CBG) and its selected digital cinema integrator Access Integrated Technologies, Inc. (AIX), continues to work with the studios to ensure that CBG members, who are smaller and independent exhibitors, often in small towns, are not left behind.
Hot on the heels of Interpret LLC's survey suggesting consumers are cutting back on moviegoing because of economic worries comes a report from the NPD Group asserting exactly the opposite.
NPD's "Entertainment Trends in America" reports that nearly 80 percent of frequent moviegoers plan to go to the theater the same amount or more often than they did last year, despite news about a declining U.S. economy. Even among infrequent moviegoers (those who attend movies once or twice within three months) 57 percent plan to hold steady, or even increase, their attendance this year. (emphasis mine)
Taken from a sample of more than 11,000 consumers, the report notes certain factors that drive consumers to the movies:
The top reason cited by consumers who intend to go to the movies more often this year is the social experience of going with family, friends, or significant others (73 percent). Nearly half (48 percent) pointed to the overall "movie-theater experience" (e.g., large screen, sound systems, etc.) as a primary reason they like to watch movies in the theater.
Makes sense - and it's something we've been saying here quite a lot. Something else we've been saying - home entertainment technologies are not a threat to moviegoing. Movie theaters and home entertainment are complementary. People who love movies are promiscuous. They'll watch movies over and over and in many different ways.
According to NPD's report, frequent moviegoers are 20 percent more likely than the average movie-ticket buyer to purchase DVDs of recent theatrical releases. They are also 60 percent more likely to rent a movie downloaded from the Web, and 40 percent more likely to purchase a movie as a digital download.
We don't expect frisky movie-goers to confine their love solely to the movie theater. But we do believe in serial monogamy - the preservation of the theatrical release window.
To sum up, the sky is not falling, movie theaters continue to not die. Will the Wall Street Journal report it? "Buehler...? Buehler...?"
Betsy Schiffman, writing for Wired's Epicenter blog, does the digging that the Wall Street Journalneglected.
What is surprising is that the industry isn't showing signs of a slowdown. In fact, this may shape up to be the second consecutive record-breaking summer at the box office. To some extent, inflation helps explain the phenomenon (rising prices drives up box office grosses), but that doesn't explain strong attendance numbers.
In actually researching the story that the Journal couldn't be bothered with, Schiffman went to the trouble of contacting NATO for our reaction to the story. I link to her story not only because yours truly is extensively quoted, but because Betsy Schiffman did what reporters are paid to do: get both sides of the story.
So don't ignore the Journal article because I think it's one-sided and inaccurate. Read it. Then read the Wired post and The Reel Blog post commenting on the Journal article. Agree or dsagree, at least you'll have enough information to come to a sensible conclusion.
A commenter on the Epicenter blog notes that ticket prices in Southern California run @ $10.50. This is generally the case for an adult admission at prime movie-going times. You can go for much less at a matinee and in areas outside the big cities. The average ticket prices cited historically were derived in the same way - the $2.23 average price from 1977 ($8.03 adjusted for inflation) was not the top ticket price then, just the average. The same kind of gap betwen the top price you would pay in 1977 and the average price existed then, too.
The Wall Street Journal ran an article today that sets a new standard of egregious ignorance in reporting on the movie theater industry.
Using as its jumping-off point a study by Interpret LLC, the article contends that people may be giving up movie-going in favor of staying home. The proof? Interpret asked 1,000 people, in addition to whether they are seeing more or fewr movies in theaters,'if they had decided not to buy one of seven specific items in the last six months because of "concern over the economy," more respondents chose movie ticket than a range of options, including a car, DVD, videogame system and house.'
Comparing putting off seeing a movie because of money concerns to putting off buying a house or car? How many people were contemplating buying a house or car to begin with? People consider going to a movie weekly - if not more often.
The article retails some conventional wisdom that just doesn't hold up. "Those consumer behaviors are reflected in part at the box office, where any increases in ticket revenue in recent years have been largely attributable to higher ticket prices. Actual attendance has usually declined."
Some facts: Over 16 years, admissions declined five times and rose eleven times. Three of those years were recent. The past two years have been modest increases.
The record 2007 box office that industry analysts warned could not be beaten considering the lack of sequels and franchises this year fell behind 2008 box office year-to-date this past weekend. Through Monday, 2008 box office stands at $4,331,304,340 - roughly $10 million ahead of 2007.
More impressively, "Overall, ticket sales continued to outperform last summer for the fourth weekend in a row. The weekend's estimated $139 million was up 6% from the comparable weekend last year, when "Evan Almighty" led the list with an opening take of $31.2 million, according to Nielsen EDI. As a result, summer boxoffice is now running 3% ahead of last summer."
This box office performance comes without a single movie with a "3" in the title.
The comparisons for the rest of the summer remain tough:
Live Free Or Die Hard
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The Dark Knight
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
The Simpsons Movie
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
The Bourne Ultimatum
Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor
Rush Hour 3
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The 2008 summer films listed represent only my guess of likely suspects for comparison to 2007. There will be the usual box office disappointments and surprises. Nobody really knows anything until the audience shows up.
What are your guesses for summer box office contenders?