Movie Price Increases Mask Drop In Attendance
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
In a year that's been disastrous for lenders and retailers, movie sales have done just fine. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports on the story behind the numbers.
YUKI NOGUCHI: Unless you've spent the last month in a media blackout, you've probably heard of "Marley and Me."
(Soundbite of movie "Marley and Me")
Mr. OWEN WILSON (As John Grogan): Never had a dog.
Mr. ERIC DANE (As Sebastian): There's nothing to it. You feed him, you walk him, you let him out every now and again. But it doesn't really matter because you're not the one's going to take care of it, Jenny is.
Mr. OWEN WILSON (As John Grogan): That's a really good idea.
NOGUCHI: The movie, about the adventures of a couple adopting a yellow Labrador, grossed $51 million since it opened Christmas Day. That seems pretty good for a pretty bad economic year, and it is. But that's not the whole picture.
Mr. JEFFREY BOCK (Senior Box Office Analyst, Exhibitor Relations Co.): When you look a little closer, it's a little bit troubling when you see that attendance is actually off almost five percent.
NOGUCHI: Jeff Bock is a box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations, a company that crunches movie sales numbers. He says what saved the industry this year was higher ticket prices. People still spend on entertainment in down economies, sure. But Bock says between movie downloads, TV shows on DVD, music, and video games, the big screen has lots of competition - even for his own attention.
Mr. BOCK: Well, personally, you know I enjoy getting together with people with the Wii. You know, I'm part of that fan club, you know. It's interactive, you know, whereas as far as, let's be honest, movie going really isn't as interactive.
NOGUCHI: Next year theaters are hoping to draw people back, particularly younger people, with big-name releases and movies shot in 3D. If they don't, 2009 won't have a happy ending for the movie business.
Yuki Noguchi, NPR News.