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Theaters: Evidence of a Growing Pie

13 Aug, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

This month I saw something I hadn't in a long time. Folks were lining up hours ahead of time to see a film — in this case The Bourne Ultimatum.

For a while now, pundits have been predicting the end of the moviegoing experience in the face of online alternatives, such as YouTube, and the growth of home theaters spawned by DVD. Yes, home video is a competitor to theaters. Why do you think movie houses are starting to look like living rooms (see last week's cover story)?

Nevertheless, while theaters see themselves in competition with their home video counterparts, I am delighted to see them coming back. I'm happy folks were excited enough about the movie business to stand in line for more than two hours.

Each week, formula tentpole movies that seemed destined to disappoint have turned out to be blockbusters in the old sense of the term — with lines around the block. I myself have seen more movies in the theater this summer than I saw in all of 2006.

I don't know how 2007 will finish up compared to previous-year theatrical takes. But in my opinion, the theatrical business has produced a truly good slate of titles this summer. Like the sequels the business is so vilified for churning out, Hollywood has once again shown the formula still works.

It's now left to our business to produce the truly blockbuster fourth quarter home entertainment executives have been anticipating since the theatrical business started to come back.

If history repeats, the packaged media business will show a jump in revenue, and interest as well, even with the increase in avenues to see movies online and via cable at the same time they appear on disc.

Instead of fighting over the entertainment pie, we may once again settle into growing the entire business — as the industry did when television came along and when the VCR threatened the established delivery pipeline.

Audiences flocking to movie theaters also shows that Americans — while sometimes distracted by the online version of “America's Funniest Home Videos” in the form of user-generated content — still yearn to see a good, well-produced story.

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