March 31, 2008

Unreported Story: 5 Years of Hollywood Box Office Misery

The latest round of war-movie failures, explained and discussed in more detail by Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion this past Saturday, is just another episode in a five-year horror story at the box office for the movie business. Despite the growth of DVD sales and during most of that time and the potential for gold in downloads, the ongoing dismal results at the box office have to be causing headaches in the executive suites in Hollywood.

Box office receipts have never really recovered from a disastrous 2005, barely beating inflation, while per-capita ticket purchases have stagnated:

HollywoodBoxOfficeTix2002to2007

What’s more the US economy as a whole grew 15% in real terms, while the movie industry’s box office contracted by over 9%:

HollywoodBoxOffcVsEconGrowth02to07

Ouch. When’s the last time (or the first time?) you saw the industry’s box-office situation portayed so starkly in the general or business press?

Additionally, DVD sales declined in 2007 for the first time. YouTube and other instant and/or “amateur” movie alternatives loom ever larger.

If there was a way out for the studios, it would seem to involve, among other things, not squandering precious resources on guaranteed duds. That idea doesn’t seem to register — which is why the executive headaches mentioned in the first paragraph will likely get stronger.

Data Sources: Box Office Mojo (Total Box Office and Tickets Sold); US Bureau of Labor Statistics (annual average inflation); US Bureau of Economic Analysis (GDP growth); Census Bureau (annual population estimates).

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Non-Surprise of the Day: ‘Earth Hour Crashes to Earth’

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:32 pm

In Australia, Andrew Bolt predicts the reax:

The organisers will say never mind, this was about raising awareness (although not of raising awareness of the facts). But here’s the awareness it should raise: how difficult it is to get even a tiny cut in just electricity use for one lousy hour, in a country responsible for just 1.5 per cent of the world’s emissions.

And then think what the Rudd Government is promising: a 60 per cent cut in all emissions, all year. And it’s to be matched by every country around the world.

Meanwhile, the world has not warmed since 1998. Indeed, the oceans and atmosphere have cooled over the past couple.

Facts don’t matter to enviro-control freaks.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (033108)

Liberal Fascism Lite (actually not-so-lite; HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) — As outrageous as this is, it has flown under way too far under the radar:

D.C. police are so eager to get guns out of the city that they’re offering amnesty to people who allow officers to come into their homes and get the weapons.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced yesterday the Safe Homes Initiative, aimed at parents and guardians who know or suspect that their children or other relatives have guns. Under the deal, police target areas hit by violence and seek adults who let them search their homes for guns, with no risk of arrest. The offer also applies to drugs that turn up during the searches, police said.

The program is scheduled to start March 24 in the Washington Highlands area of Southeast Washington. Officers will go door-to-door seeking permission to search homes for weapons.

I could handle this if parents voluntarily called the cops in themselves. But that’s clearly not what this is about. Instead, it’s about intimidation. In my opinion, it’s also a pre-emptive strike in advance of a Supreme Court ruling this summer that will more than likely declare DC’s gun ban unconstitutional, and that will hopefully (praying mightily), once and for all, establish that gun ownership is an individual right under the plain language of the Second Amendment.

A commenter at Weapons of Mass Discussion notes that Boston is undertaking a similar effort.

Is it a coincidence that Washington’s and Boston’s governments have been controlled by lib Democrats for decades? I think not.

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Speaking of flying under the radar, Debbie Schlussel has explosive info about the situation with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (here and here) that should be getting more visibility, and isn’t.

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Powerline, which has been making hash of the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Nick Coleman for years, caught him repeating a howler about the Vets for Freedom (VFF).

On Thursday, supporting a Twin Cities high school’s last-minute revocation of an invitation to appear, Coleman wrote:

VFF says it is nonpartisan, but the liberal watchdog group the Center for Media and Democracy said it began as a Republican front group managed by White House insiders.

Of course, Coleman never attempted to contact VFF officials, and just took the far-left “Center for Media and Democracy’s” word for it.

Star Trib columnist and blogger Katherine Kersten got it right:

If we were a White House front group, we should have been awash in cash in our infancy,” says (Vets for Freedom Director Pete) Hegseth. In fact, the group was started by a handful of vets and initially could hardly make ends meet. “We had one staff member, and he could barely pay his own salary,” says Hegseth. “He literally put down his own credit card to start the organization.”

To suggest that Vets for Freedom marches lock-step in support of the Bush administration is equally untrue. When Hegseth returned from his tour in Iraq in Oct. 2006, he slammed the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq in a high-profile piece for the Wall Street Journal.

Minnesota educators and BDS-infected libs (but I repeat myself) have a history of trying to keep mission-supporting vets’ views from becoming widely known — and Coleman has a history of cheering them on.

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Embarrassments like the aforementioned Coleman are part of the reason why the bad financial news just keeps on coming in the newspaper business (“NAA Reveals Biggest Ad Revenue Plunge in More Than 50 Years”). I’m not saying that media bias is the only reason for declines such as the one most recently reported at Editor & Publisher, but that it has served to accelerate those declines.

More importantly for their long-term future, if the public were satisfied with the quality of news delivered by print newspapers, they would have followed those publications to their web sites as the Internet took hold. Look at the numbers in the E&P article, and imagine how different things would be if the papers’ online readerships were 3-4 times what they currently are. Online ad gains would come close to making up for the print ad losses. But that’s not what’s happening, because now that the public has alternatives, it is abandoning the newspaper ship. Newspaper execs who don’t think that bias hasn’t been a major reason for that are whistling past the graveyard.

Positivity: Midway Theater Closing

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

Yes, it’s a Positivity story, as a businessperson is leaving on her own terms:

Clermont Co.’s Midway Theatre fades into history
Saturday, March 29, 2008

BETHEL – Now playing at the Midway Theatre: The last picture show.

After the 7 p.m. presentation of “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” on Thursday, the single screen in the 280-seat theater will fade to black – perhaps forever.

It’s not for lack of business. The theater, which seldom shows anything rated R except for scary movies around Halloween, is popular with families. In the two-week run of the G-rated “Horton,” the Midway has had some sell-out crowds.

However, Deborah Brooks, 54, who has operated the Clermont County landmark for 34 years, plans to pull the plugs on the two reel-to-reel projectors.

“I have been doing this since I was 20 years old,” Brooks said. “I can hardly imagine the day I lock the door for the last time.”

Factoring into her decision was a brain aneurysm suffered a year ago.

“My energy level is not as high as before,” Brooks said. “So I’m going to cut back. I will have some down time … a different lifestyle, and be able to do some traveling and enjoy my life a little more.

“When you’re a small business owner, you really have to be very attentive to it,” Brooks said.

The theater at 210 W. Plane St., which employs six (including Brooks), was opened in 1937 by her paternal grandfather, Earl Hewett.

“I think it was 37 cents (for adults) and 17 cents for children,” Brooks said of tickets 71 years ago.

Adjusted for inflation, the cost has gone down for an adult. It’s now $3.50 for matinees and $4 for the late show. Concessions are also a bargain: $2 for candy or a small popcorn, and $1.50 for a pop.

“That is our niche,” Brooks said. “Especially in this slow economy, people are looking for ways to have entertainment at lower prices.”

Over the past two weeks, “I’ve seen so many generations of people coming in because they’ve learned that this is our last movie, and they’ve stopped by to make comments about how much they’re going to miss the theater,” said Brooks, who is one of the village’s 2,637 residents.

To show her appreciation, Brooks said, patrons will receive free popcorn and soft drinks from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Shortly before the last show at 7 p.m. that day, patrons will be asked to gather outside under the theater’s marquee for a group photograph, which will be donated to the Bethel Historical Society Museum. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.