Box Office Numbers up 4.5% so far in ’09
Theater admissions fell less than anticipated in 2008 — 2.5% — while they are up a sizeable 4.5% so far this year.Tallies provide further evidence that moviegoing has become a favorite pastime in brutal economic times.
However, the decline in admissions turned out to be narrower than that as the National Assn. of Theater Owners announced Tuesday that the 2008 average ticket price was $7.18, lower than expected. (It’s 30¢ more than the $6.88 paid for a ticket on average in 2007.)
B.O. revenues for 2008 were up more than 1% over 2007, making it the best year ever at the domestic B.O. For the time period Jan. 2, 2008, through Jan. 1, 2009, revs were $9.64 billion, according to Rentrak.
The number of people actually buying tickets at the theater kiosk always fluctuates since ticket prices rise annually. Hence admissions can be down but revenues up.
A 2.5% dip in admissions is relatively mild, particularly considering the falloff in other sectors in the last six months. Admissions were down more than 7% in 2005, for instance, and 4.8% in 2003. They were up slightly in 2007 and 2006.
The box office has been on a winning run since last summer. Some observers attribute the healthy B.O. to the fact that heading for the multiplex — or arthouse — is far less expensive than other entertainment outings, such as sports or concerts.
The strength of the January domestic box office has caught the film biz off-guard. Like admissions, B.O. revs are up, seeing a gain of 7% over the same frame last year.
Clint Eastwood‘s “Gran Torino” is the leader, grossing nearly $100 million to date for Warner Bros. and well on its way to becoming Eastwood’s best box office earner for a film he’s either directed or starred in.
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