Recession Helps Box Office
Hollywood -- According to U.S.
government reports, our economy has officially been in a recession
since December 2007. That comes as no surprise to most of us, who have
battled the day to day pains due to the crisis. Many industries have
collapsed such as the auto and retail sectors. However, one unusual
bright spot comes out of Southern California... Hollywood! The film
industry is actually reversing its fortunes due to tough times, after
years of erosion due to digital technology.
Historically the movie
business has an upsurge in bad economic times,
as people head to the theaters to escape from the daily headaches. Domestic
box-office revenue went up in five of
the past seven recession years dating to the 1960s, according to
research compiled by the National Association of Theatre Owners.
budget-conscious consumers in today's
economic downturn may hold off buying that 50-inch plasma television,
â€œit seems they can always pull together the money to go to the
film historian and critic Leonard Maltin said. â€œThey're not
monthly commitment or a down payment. They're just shelling out the 10
Not only is going to the movies a release from the economic downturn,
it is also an affordable guilty pleasure. "Most people would
believe that offers a very
good value. It's certainly much cheaper than a psychiatrist," said Dan
Glickman, who heads the Motion Picture Association of America,
Hollywood's top trade group. â€œTo go into a darkened room where
can find you for two hours is great therapy, particularly when times
America's longest and bleakest economic
bust in the 1930s, movie attendance tumbled initially as investment
money for films dried up. But in the heart of the Depression from the
early to late 1930s, attendance shot up. While
box-office figures were not
released back then as they are today, as many as 4.6 billion movie
tickets a year were sold in the 1930s â€“ three times more than
the best year of modern times. And the U.S. population during the
Depression was less than half of today's 300 million.
Some would go as far to say that the movie business is recession proof,
however if numbers continue to rise over the next few years, that in
fact could be true? Other areas of the entertainment have had a bit of
luck as well, such as television and radio. Traditional sources of
media will always survive the times, as they offer affordable means of
entertainment. Though advertising income for broadcasting is down, TV
and radio audiences have grown due to their price factor... pretty much
executives note that during the Great Depression, when more than
a quarter of the country was out of work, people still scraped together
dimes to see the latest motion picture. In subsequent economic slumps,
consumers spent freely on new technology, expanded their home video
libraries and, most recently, invested $1,000 or more on
high-definition, big-screen TVs.
Hollywood films have traditionally fared well during economic
downturns, this time around may be quite different," said Bobby
Tulsiani, an analyst at Forrester Research, which recently examined
consumer spending on media.
Blame the Internet. With faster
processors, improved technology to
compress video and more than 60 million homes in the U.S. with
high-speed connections, the computer seamlessly delivers full-length
episodes of television shows and movies. As a result, the computer now
vies with the TV and cinema as the go-to screen for entertainment.
cinema attendance increased during five of the last seven
recessions, a closer examination of movie box office receipts during
the Great Depression seems at odds with Hollywood's conventional
wisdom. Attendance soared in 1929 and 1930, after the advent of
"talkies," but the novelty appears to have worn off amid hard times. By
1932, ticket sales had plunged and did not recover until 1940, just
before World War II.
"It's not that
the cinema business is completely immune to
recessions," said John Fithian, chief executive of the National Assn.
of Theater Owners. "But the industry appears to be recession-resistant.
If there are decent movies, people are going to come out."
Going to the movies is
more expensive than previous years, however it
is still an affordable means of one last guilty pleasure. Hollywood
will squeeze every drop of success it can as audiences deal with the
thought of facing a recovery, or a full out depression... hooray for