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2009: At the Box-Office, It Was a Very Good Year
by Christopher Stone

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Lautner and the Box-Office Were Pumped Up in 2009.

Lautner and the Box-Office Were Pumped Up in 2009.
2009: Our economy was in the toilet, and the tell-tale signs were everywhere. Banks closed by the score; homes went into foreclosure, by the thousands. Many of the workers lucky enough to keep their jobs took a pay cut. The high ranks of the unemployed filled the malls with window shoppers, but who will buy? Many believed that a pricey economic stimulus package wasn't all that stimulating. Cash for Clunkers aroused, but drew criticism when the disloyal opposition put in its sour grapes two-cents. On the bright side, for investment companies, anyway, Wall Street's profits for 2009 are record setting.

For Match-Flickers, too, the news is good very, very good. Even though recession has led to drops in consumer spending in almost every category, box-office revenue was up 9% in 2009. Unlike previous years, 2009's box-office bonanza wasn't driven largely by a spike in ticket prices. Instead, motion picture attendance was up an impressive 4.5% over
UP was big.

UP was big.

As American consumers spent less on pricier forms of entertainment and other leisure-time activities, they turned to Match-Flicking as a relatively inexpensive way to enjoy an afternoon or evening out.

Beyond our shores, The Box-office Boom of 2009 continued. Grosses ascended in most major foreign markets, among them, the UK, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Mexico and Australia.

Match-Flickers must look back to the post 9-11 recession of 2002 to find a year in the last 20 when ticket sales have enjoyed a larger growth. For decades, economists have viewed the box-office as recession-resistant, but 2009 seemed more recession-proof than resistant. The world re-discovered the joy of escaping to the movies.

Pundits believe that the major expansion of 3D projection undoubtedly assisted the phenomenal 2009 box-office growth. For now, 3D and IMAX 3D offer an entertainment experience that can't be duplicated in any home theater. That may not last for

long. Apparently, the next big advance in television, now that High Definition has been strongly established, will be 3D home television projection.

Certainly the rapid growth of 3D projection boosted 2009's box-office, but what else is in play? The year was without a blockbuster of THE DARK KNIGHT'S proportion, even though AVATAR may become as big, or bigger, than THE DARK KNIGHT, as 2009 rolls into 2010.

Were last year's motion pictures just better than usual? Some believe this to be true; others, including the popular CinemaScore, do not. 2009's average CinemaScore grade was B, the same average grade as 2008's.

In 2009, research firms concluded that a majority of consumers simply believed that motion pictures are the best value for their entertainment dollar. If the belief holds, then 2010 will be another record-shattering year. In 2008, similar polls ranked Match-Flicking the fifth best value for the entertainment dollar, behind going out
THE FALLEN was the year's biggest!

THE FALLEN was the year's biggest!
to dinner, watching a movie on DVD at home, watching television, and Web surfing.

The 2009 Box-Office year ended with a bang a big bang. A number of powerful titles, led by AVATAR and SHERLOCK HOLMES, resulted in the single biggest weekend in all of box-office history (December 25-27). Overall, last weekend, $278 million was added to the box-office coffers up an astounding 36 percent from the last weekend of 2008, and topping by $13 million, the previous highest grossing ever weekend, July 18-20, 2008, when THE DARK KNIGHT and MAMMA MIA! opened to record-setting business.

Amazingly, Avatar's second week gross of $75 million was a scant 3 percent less than its opening. In ten days, James Cameron's sci-fi flick has amassed a hefty $212.3 million domestically, and a whopping worldwide haul of $615.2 million.

With no signs of slowing down, the box-office may well do land-office businessagain set new record highs in 2010.

Happy New Year, dear Match-Flickers.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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