Movie Revenues Up, Concession Sales Down

More than $4 billion has poured into the movie box office so far this year. That's up 12.5 percent from this time a year ago. Though the lagging economy has slowed sales some, Hollywood is still enjoying a good year. But that's not the case at concession stands.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with Hollywood's ups and downs.

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MONTAGNE: The movie "Up" soared past all the others over the weekend. The Disney Pixar animated film is about an elderly salesman who ties thousands of balloons to his house and floats away to South America. Escapism to the movies seems to be a good thing for Hollywood these days. The industry has pulled in more than $4 billion so far this year, up about 13 percent compared to the same time last year. And, of course, that's despite the recession. But it's not an entirely happy ending, as NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

RICHARD GONZALES: Paramount's reset of the "Star Trek" franchise is the year's biggest box office smash, raking in more than $200 million.

(Soundbite of movie "Star Trek")

Mr. BRUCE GREENWOOD (Actor): (as Captain Christopher Pike) Remember, the Enterprise won't be able to beam you back until you can turn off that drill.

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Mr. GREENWOOD: (as Captain Christopher Pike) Good luck.

GONZALEZ: Still, after a strong start, movie analysts say "Star Trek" is unlikely to beam into the exclusive galaxy of $300 million summer blockbusters. But movie executives are still smiling. According to Hollywood.com Box Office, movie revenues are up more than 13 percent and ticket sales are 10 percent over this time last year. Jeff Bock is a Box Office Analyst for Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles.

Mr. JEFF BOCK (Box Office Analyst, Exhibitor Relations): You know how troubling the world view may seem right now, escapism is always the highest order of the day. And the cheapest escapism is 10 bucks. And that's the price of the movies these days.

GONZALES: But some moviegoers are avoiding the popcorn line. Bock says concession sales are down about 10 percent. Movie and TV character-related licensing revenues are down, too, almost 4 percent last year than the year before. Martin Brockstein, a senior vice president for the International Licensing Merchandisers Association, blames the economy.

Mr. MARTIN BROCKSTEIN: (Senior Vice President, International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association): When consumer spending softened, so did the purchase of goods that are licensed by manufacturers.

GONZALES: Bottom line, Americans want the movies, but the (unintelligible) paraphernalia, not so much.

Richard Gonzales, NPR News.

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