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Recession Boxoffice Surge

by Anne Thompson
March 2, 2009 5:55 AM
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Well, the movie industry doesn't mind that audiences are returning to theaters in droves during a recession. It's obviously good news all around. But David Poland debunks the NYT's recession "hype." While the studios may have been smart enough to not only give the audiences what they want but market the hell out of Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Taken, there's no question that these movies are doing better than they would ordinarily do. And the NYT stat that admissions are up by almost 16% is staggering.

But strong theatrical numbers still don't fix the studios' real bottom line: DVDs sales are down 30 %--mainly from disappointing tentpole titles.

A WGA panel Sunday night addressed these issues and other industry ills, reports John August's blog:

Yes, but movies are doing well, right? Box office receipts are on the up and up.

True, but the motherships (Time Warner/GE etc.) suck out that revenue and use it to prop up other flagging sectors. So that money doesn’t go back into development or the pockets of writers. Also, Navid McIlhargey notes that while theatrical has made a comeback, DVD sales have dropped by roughly 30%. That means four things:

The financial models studios look at before greenlighting a picture are skewed. (Depending on various factors, DVD revenue used to be equal to or greater than domestic theatrical revenue.) The projections for break-even are falling short on movies that might have been easily greenlit a few years ago. One way to counter that is by exploiting the international marketplace, which translates to more big action, (male) star-driven movies.



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