Recession Is a Big Hit for Movie Industry

Movie ticket sales are on the rise, but only a small percentage of surveyed moviegoers are actually going to the theater more often.

As predicted, the movie industry has seen a boon as Americans turn to movies to chase away the recession blues, similar to the Great Depression. Movies might be much more expensive than they were during the 1930s, but admissions are still up as the economy is down.

The movie theater industry is one of the few discretionary spending markets to show substantial revenue growth in 2009, with a projected 11.6% revenue increase this year, according to a report from market research firm Mintel. The growth is attributed to a rise in admissions rather than ticket price increases, reversing a trend of the last several years, the firm said.

However, not everyone is going to the movies more. Mintel’s research suggests that those who are increasing attendance are doing so more heavily than those that are cutting back. Mintel’s survey in April found that only 18% of respondents who had gone the movies in the last six months reported going to the movies more than they did last year (41% reported going about the same, and the same percentage reported going less).

Lower-earning households (making less than $50,000 annually) and households with children are among those less likely to be going to the movies than last year. Respondents in households that earn more than $50,000 were most likely to report attending movies about the same as last year.

Hold the Snacks

While Americans seem willing to splurge more on the price of a cinema ticket, they are saying no to the high-priced popcorn. Concession revenues are expected to be nearly flat in 2009, according to Mintel.

For those who spring for the goodies, the traditional popcorn-and-soda combo is the most popular concession, cited by about two-thirds of respondents who went to the movies in the last six months. Candy (24%) and other types of food (17%) rank a distant second and third as the most often purchased concessions.

Mintel surveyed 1,072 adults who had gone to the movie theater in the last six months.