Economic Impact of Movie Theaters

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Heroes like Indiana Jones and Iron Man are conquering more than just movie villains this summer. They're also conquering theater owners' fears that the flagging economy would keep movie fans away. More theaters are instituting measures to help attract viewers despite rising gas and food prices. But it's not always enough, with some already raising admission and considering concession price increases. Still, the outlook for movie houses during this latest economic downturn seems rosy because few movie fans seem to be taking a break from one of the nation's favorite pastimes during this summer's blockbuster season. Nationally, summer ticket sales are strong and virtually on par with those from 2007. After the weekend of June 13, the 2008 year-to-date box office was $4.09 billion, compared with the record-breaking $4.1 billion box office for the same period last year. Arizona box-office numbers were not available, but several theaters reported brisk ticket sales, with some predicting 2008 box-office numbers could surpass those from 2007. They partly credit specials, such as early-bird tickets and other discount opportunities, for the healthy box office. But industry insiders say movies have long been a refuge for the masses during economic downturns. A study done by the National Association of Theatre Owners in Washington indicates that box-office numbers increased during five of seven economic downturns since 1965, suggesting that movie attendance rarely decreases during a slowing economy. "Generally, movies are an escape for people," said Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the group. "If times are tough, people still need to get out and get away." In comparison to other forms of entertainment, a trip to the movies is more affordable than tickets to a baseball game or concert, he added. "We're still one of the best-priced values for your money," said Damon Rubio, vice president of operations for UltraStar Cinemas, which recently opened a theater in Surprise....
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