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Saturday, May 28, 2005

What's with the slump?

A front page piece in today's New York Times observes that "With Popcorn, DVD's and TiVo, Moviegoers Are Staying Home."

The total number of people going to the movies dropped 4 percent in 2003, 2 percent in 2004, and 8 percent so far in 2005. Meanwhile, time spent online has been skyrocketing (76.6 percent), and time spent playing videogames has been growing pretty fast, too (20.3 percent).

The article wonders whether movie attendance is down because -- Thesis #1 -- people are spending more times with other kinds of entertainment, or because of a dearth in quality flicks -- Thesis #2. (Might the answer be "both"?)

The bulk of the story supports Thesis #1. Amy Pascal, chairwoman of Sony Pictures Entertainment's motion picture group, is the only backer of Thesis #2 cited. She says, "We can give ourselves every excuse for people not showing up...but people just want good movies."

I'd add an important "and" to that. And they want to watch those good movies at a time, in a venue, and on a device that's convenient to them.

(Some evidence in support of that: the amount of time Americans spend watching DVDs has jumped 53 percent since 2000, according to a study by the Motion Picture Association of America. DVDs are insanely convenient, rentable at Blockbuster or, and available for purchase at the neighborhood drugstore; and they can be watched on a laptop, a home DVD player, or a portable DVD player. What's not to like?)