The VCR was supposed to ruin box office demand. Then Blockbuster (BBI) was the spoiler. Then came DVDs and high-def DVDs. That spawned NetFlix (NFLX) and kiosk operations like Redbox.
What DVDs could not do to cripple movie ticket sales, VOD was supposed to. Local cable and telco fiber-optic lines to the home offered living room viewers hundreds of premium content options. Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), and NetFlix created streaming movie services. Wal-Mart (WMT) bought a video-on-demand provider.
None of the new technology prevented this Easter weekend from being the best Easter in history for the theater-based movie business. “Domestic moviegoers bought a record $183 million of movie tickets this Easter weekend,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Clash of the Titans” which got awful reviews, brought in $64 million over four days. All the stakes put into the body of the old movie theater business have not killed it.
Some of the improvement in movie receipts is due to the new fascination with 3D films, although most theater complexes do not have even one IMAX. The industry has been particularly good producing blockbusters this year, especially “Alice in Wonderland” and “Clash “. Greek scholars and hoards of movie goers attended the debut of the film about mythic heroes, Olympic gods, and monsters.
Movie theater sales are running ahead of last year’s record rate. The key to that may have little to do with 3D. There is something about the big screen and the laughter, shouting, and horror that sitting with scores of others in a theater brings. And, $9 a ticket is really not so much even during hard economic times. Unless, of course, people decide to buy the overpriced candy.
Douglas A. McIntyre
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