Hollywood Bucks Bad Economic Trend

Despite the sour economy, Americans still escape to the movies.

ByABC News
July 16, 2008, 1:03 PM

July 18, 2008— -- While Wall Street has reached bear market territory, "Wall E," the Disney-Pixar animated film is having banner days at the box office. And despite a faltering national economy, "Sex in the City" ticket sales are soaring.

In the midst of tough times for the U.S. economy, Hollywood is still booming. Movie attendance in June rose 17 percent from last year.

Hollywood's strong sales might not be in spite of the sputtering economy, but because of it.

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"Wall-E" raked in $63 million in its first weekend at the box office. The highly anticipated "Sex and the City" movie brought in nearly $57 million its opening weekend, grossing $148 million to date. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" reached $311 million worldwide in late May.

"Business is great," said Peter Adee, President of Worldwide Marketing at Overture Films. "We couldn't be happier."

"People see it as a good value and they are really watching their pennies," said Patrick Corcoran of the National Association of Theatre Owners. "And they want to get out and get entertained, and this is a very reasonable way to do it."

On average movie tickets cost about $7 -- the price is rising less than the rate of inflation. Since 1991, the price of movie tickets has risen 67 percent. While that may seem like a significant increase, by comparison, the cost of baseball tickets has more than tripled.

While Americans may be scrimping on vacations and gas, they aren't sacrificing the occasional night at the movies. In fact, going to the movies has proved to be the bargain buy for entertainment as Americans buckle down and conserve.

"It's still the cheapest entertainment," said a man who ABC News interviewed on the street. "It's cheaper than going out to dinner and it's cheaper than just about anything else in the city."

Historically, the movie business has had real success bucking bad economic trends. In five of the last seven recessions, movie ticket sales have gone up.