That's a quote from a wonderful L.A. Timesarticle on this year's booming box office under the comically generic headline "Box-office revenue up for 2009".
The piece goes somewhat deeper than the headline suggests, considering whether booming box office and increased attendance this year are economically-driven or if something fundamental is underway in the way people want to watch movies. It even notes that new social media technologies like Twitter may be powering positive word of mouth far longer and more broadly than anticipated.
The box-office boom has not only surprised many in Hollywood, but provided a much-needed source of revenue growth as DVD sales have plunged more than 13% so far this year.
And it has proved that despite a digital revolution in the ways audiences consume content, one of the oldest methods has not lost its appeal.
"When the economy is down, people start cutting back, but after a while they want to go out and be entertained," said Ed Mintz, the president of market research firm CinemaScore. "Even at $10, or $15 for IMAX or 3-D, going to the movies is still a cheaper night out than almost anything else."
The economy is clearly part of the equation, but perhaps something else is happening. I'll leave Sony's Jeff Blake with the final word:
"There was a feeling that the business was recession-proof, but this is more than that," said Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
"This is people rediscovering going to the movies."
As if crushing debt, the recession, Netflix and Redbox weren't enough, Blockbuster Inc. has a new foe: the booming box office.
That's according to Jim Keyes, chief executive of the struggling but still massive DVD rental chain, who on Thursday blamed much of his company's weak performance last quarter on the growing number of people watching movies in theaters and not their living rooms.
"We estimate nearly 3 million more people are going to the movies each week in 2009 [than 2008]," he said on a conference call with analysts. "This has been pulling traffic from Blockbuster stores."
Even though box office and attendance are up over last year by double digits, the Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, North Carolina is trying to ease a little of the financial pressure on its patrons by offering free admissions every Wednesday. NBC Nightly News has the story.
Big media outlets are waking up to the phenomenal box office and admissions numbers being generated so far this year.
On Sunday, the New York Timesweighed in with the news that movie theaters are a bargain:
Helping feed the surge is the mix of movies, which have been more audience-friendly in recent months as the studios have tried to adjust after the lackluster sales of more somber and serious films.
As she stood in line at the 18-screen Bridge theater complex here on Thursday to buy weekend tickets for "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience," Angel Hernandez was not thinking much about escaping reality. Instead, Ms. Hernandez, a Los Angeles parking lot attendant and mother of four young girls, was focused on one very specific reality: her wallet.
Even with the movie carrying a premium price of $15 because of its 3-D effects - children's tickets typically run $9 at the Bridge - Ms. Hernandez saw the experience as a bargain.
"Spending hundreds of dollars to take them to Disneyland is ridiculous right now," she said. "For $60 and some candy money I can still be a good mom and give them a little fun."
On Monday, it was NBC Nightly News, with Brian Williams waxing lyrical about the reasonably-priced comforts of settling in to a darkened movie theater, favorite snacks in hand.
There's a lot of emphasis on comedies and "feel good" films doing especially well. Is this your experience as well? What kinds of movies take you away during troubled times?
Box office is booming, and ABC News takes a look on the Friday before the Oscar telecast.
If you look closely, yours truly has apparently gotten a new job as spokesman for the previously unknown "National Association of Theatregoers". Aside from the really ugly acronym (NATg), they don't exist. We really like theatregoers, but we don't speak for them.
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.):
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.