Apparently, The Recession Is Not Saving Movie Theater Attendance

In past blog postings I have argued that movie theater attendance is being significantly eroded by the growing ease of watching movies at home, where — as a Pew survey showed – Americans now watch most of their movies.

But in the first three months of 2009 attendance jumped 13% over the previous year and observers in the news media were claiming that depressions and recessions induce higher movie theater attendance as folks are looking for affordable entertainment. In an April 18, 2009 posting, I cautioned against jumping on this analytical bandwagon, noting that movie attendance in 2008, definitely a recession year, was the lowest since 1997.

More recent attendance data, as reported in an article in the Wall Street Journal, (see:Lauren Schuker, “Summer Box-Office Sales Cool Down – WSJ.com,” Article Here.) indicates a reversal of this trend: “Attendance for the summer season, beginning on May 1, is down by 4.36% compared to the same time last summer, with revenue edging down by 0.77%.” This means that movie attendance has dropped to a really low level, since the 2008 stats were the lowest in over a decade.

N. David Milder