The MPAA says the movie business is great. Unless it's lousy.
The Motion Picture Association of America issued its annual report on the movie business yesterday -- and to hear the MPAA say it, things have never been better for Hollywood.
In a press release (PDF), the District-based trade group touted the findings of its Theatrical Market Statistics Report:
... global box office receipts reached an all time high of $29.9 billion, an increase of 7.6% over 2008 and almost 30% from 2005. The U.S./Canada market reached $10.6 billion, an increase of more than 10%, and International receipts increased 6.3% to $19.3 billion in 2009 .... Ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada rose more than 5.5% from 2008, the first admissions increase in two years. Per capita ticket purchases in the U.S. and Canada also increased 4.6% to 4.3 tickets per person, the first significant increase since 2002.
The release also noted major advances in digital technology -- theaters now have more than 16,000 digital screens worldwide, up 86 percent from last year -- and 3D -- 8,989 screens worldwide, 6 percent of the total. But the number of films produced in the U.S. dropped 12 percent last year. The full report (PDF) offers such added details as the average ticket price ($7.50) and the number of drive-in theaters in the U.S. (we only have 689 left), though the L.A. Times notes that it no longer cites the average cost to make and market a movie.
Considering the crummy state of the economy, any industry would be delighted to have a report card like that.
The funny thing is, you wouldn't know that the movie business was doing so well from other MPAA announcements. Take, for instance, the December press release (PDF) in which MPAA chairman Dan Glickman suggested that unauthorized copies of movies were running the industry into the ground:
Yet our industry faces the relentless challenge of the theft of its creative content, a challenge extracting an increasingly unbearable cost.
So is the movie business terrific or terrible? Asked to clarify, MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman said the industry suffers the greatest damage from fraudulent copies (he said "piracy," but I disagree with that usage) in the post-theatrical markets -- video-on-demand, downloads, DVD and Blu-ray.
Gantman pointed to a study released at the end of 2009 by Adams Media Research that reported a 13 percent drop in U.S. DVD and Blu-ray movie sales, to $8.73 billion. (Blu-ray sales made up roughly $1.1 billion of that total.) That made 2009 the first year since 2002 that movie disc sales fell below U.S. box-office revenues.
But the Adams report, at least as summarized by Reuters, did not cite file-sharing or bootleg copies as reasons for that decline. Instead, it pointed to "the rise of low-cost rental options, such as Coinstar Inc's kiosk chain Redbox, which rents DVDs for $1 a day, and online subscription services such as Netflix."
I'm not saying that the movie industry doesn't have problems, or that people grabbing movies off the Internet without paying for them isn't one of them (though I will note that the best counterattack against file sharing is a good selection of fairly priced movie downloads). But if the MPAA is going to brag about how great it's doing, it seems reasonable to ask that movie studios go to the end of the line of companies seeking help from Washington.
March 11, 2010; 1:14 PM ET
Categories: Policy and politics , Video
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