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Theaters still top list for film viewers

Attendance rises in 2006. Results of a survey are seen as bullish for the movie industry.

March 07, 2007|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Movie fans still prefer watching films in a multiplex instead of their living rooms, a new survey shows, but the gap has narrowed.

Sixty-three percent of film fans said going out, rather than staying home, represented the "ultimate movie-watching experience," down from 69% in last year's survey.

Males under age 25 were most likely to favor theaters, while women ages 25 and up were the most evenly split.

The poll of 622 filmgoers was taken in February by research firm Nielsen NRG on behalf of the Motion Picture Assn. of America. Results were issued Tuesday as part of the MPAA's annual report on Hollywood's health, which as expected showed improvement last year at both the domestic and worldwide box office.

MPAA Chief Executive Dan Glickman said research was showing that film lovers who embrace new technologies are remaining avid moviegoers.

"People who have enhanced technologies in the home still love going to the movies," Glickman said, "and actually see an average of three more movies per year than those with fewer home theater technologies."

People who own or subscribe to four or more home technologies (such as DVD players, Netflix, big-screen TVs and digital cable), go to an average of 10.5 films a year, the survey showed.

Those from lower-tech households said they go to an average of 7.1 movies a year.

Glickman said the report painted a "bullish" overall picture of the film industry, noting that theater attendance climbed 3.3% to reverse three straight years of declines.

Even so, theater attendance remains down from the modern-day record of 1.6 billion admissions in 2002.

Multiplexes face stepped-up competition from the DVD market, computer gaming and other entertainment options.

Among the report's other findings:

* Overseas moviegoers are becoming an increasingly vital source of revenue for Hollywood, studios reported.

Worldwide box-office receipts jumped 11% to a record $25.8 billion, thanks in large measure to growth in such countries as Brazil, France, Germany, Russia and South Korea.

U.S. grosses of $9.5 billion accounted for 37% of the worldwide total. In 2001, by comparison, domestic sales represented 50% of the global market.

* Costs held steady.

The average major studio film cost $100.3 million to make and market in 2006, the trade group said. Average overall marketing costs dipped to $34.5 million from $36.1 million, while production outlays rose to $65.8 million from $63.6 million.

Hollywood costs are down about 5.5% from their peak level in 2003.

Among smaller film labels such as Fox Searchlight and Miramax, the average cost to produce and market a movie rose to $47.5 million. That was up sharply from 2005 but far shy of the 2003 level.

* Web advertising surged.

Of the average $30.7 million spent advertising a film last year, 3.7% was devoted to the Internet.

In 2005, online advertising accounted for 2.6% of the total.

Smaller portions of the ad pie went to newspapers and television networks.

Newspapers accounted for 10.8% of ad spending, down from 12.7% in 2005. TV networks captured 21.2% of ad dollars compared with 23.1% the year before.

* Ticket prices rose modestly.

The average movie ticket nationwide cost $6.55, according to the report.

That was up 2.2% from 2005, trailing the rate of inflation.

Ticket price data came from a separate survey taken on behalf of U.S. theater owners.


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