$UP,000M in 2009

Ticket prices are now much higher. Surprisingly, more people are going to the movies; even though the recession has pushed down consumer spending in nearly every sector of the economy. From the past 20 years, the only year where tickets receipts have grown more was in 2002, during the post 11 September recession. Is this a coincidence?


It is the normal norm that a recession, which is characterised by a general slowdown in an economic activity over a sustained period of time, brings about a series of negative effects. It is the tendency that people asides more money for savings and thus cut down expenditure. Usually, consumers would radically omit consumption on the most unnecessary things; leaving a proportionate of their income for the most basic and needed stuff of survival such as food, clothes and shelter. So why in times of an economic turmoil the US box-office registered a projected domestic box-office gross of $10.5 billion that a 9% increase from 2008?


It is true that many Americans, during 2008 and 2009, spent less on leisure activities like travel, eating out, going  out for a drink, sporting events and shopping. Thereby, it seems that many prefer now to go to the movies to entertain themselves. Factors defer from one individual to another but the two most common reasons are: much relatively cheaper, and a greater value for money compared with other substitutes like dining out in restaurants. "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." In fact, according to a survey carried out by OTX was discovered that for every entertainment dollar spend, consumers ranked movie going as their best value. 


So far the US box-office revenue is up by 8.6% and Canada is expected to top an all time record of $10 billion. Unlike recent years, total revenue was not boosted by means of a rise in the ticket price but due to an increase in cinema attendance. Attendance is up 4.5% over 2008, according to Hollywood.com Box Office.


A growth was not only registered in Hollywood industry. DVD sales have increased by more than 13% in 2009. Despite the danger that digital revolution is going to clear audience from theatres; it was confirmed that it did not lost its appeal.  


This uniqueness is not happening in US alone. Both the value and volume of tickets sales experienced a major increase in European and non-European countries; including the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Australia, Mexico and Brazil. Notably where "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and "2012."


A similarity might exist between the post 11 September recession with the recent economic and financial crises. However, this upturn is more interesting than the other one. The growth registered in 2002 was compiled by a long-term accession that hit an all time-high of $1.6 billion tickets sales. Generally speaking attendance dropped significantly and gradually from year to year. The rising quality of home theater systems and new technologies like video on demand were the main speculators for making going out to theaters less appealing than watching at home. Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, explains why the 2009 upturn was so distinctive. “There was a feeling that the business was recession-proof, but this is more than that...This is people rediscovering going to the movies".


The rapid expansion of 3-D projection this year has undoubtedly strengthened the industry. It offers a unique experience that, till now; it cannot be enjoyed in a home theatre. This is not only compelling audiences to rediscover movies but also the word of mouth is engaging traditional individuals to come into a broader group. It is argued that social technologies via texting, Facebook and Twitter are spreading it much quicker and effectively. This may be the reason for the alternation in marketing of the low budget “Paranormal Activity” which clearly was direct, concise and pro-active. "The Hangover," "The Proposal," and "The Blind Side" also benefited from such traditional phenomenon.


2008 was more characterised by hits that grossed over $300 million. Nonetheless, 2009 total ticket sales are up substantially, thanks to a boom in the number of movies that grossed between $150 million and $300 million. The year's top performer of 2008, "The Dark Knight", grossed $533.3 million domestically, compared with the most 2009 gross of $402.1 million from "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." 2009 has seen an unusually high number of big but not blockbuster hits that grossed between $150 million and $300 million, such as "Star Trek," "The Twilight Saga: New Moon", “Up” and "The Hangover."


Source: Vella, M., 2010. $UP,000M in 2009. The View Finder, 1(1), pp.11-14.