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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hollywood’s Superheroes Save the Day

By Brooke Barns,

January 4,2009

LOS ANGELES — As companies big and small — if they still exist at all — trudge into January after a dismal 2008, the movie business is quietly celebrating solid if not spectacular results at the multiplex.

Ticket sales at North American movie theaters totaled $9.6 billion, a decrease of less than 1 percent over the previous year, according to Media by Numbers, a box office tracking company. Although attendance declined 5 percent, to about 1.3 billion, the industry was able to buttress revenue with higher ticket prices and premium 3-D offerings.

“Considering the economic climate, I think that’s a pretty terrific result,” said Michael L. Campbell, the chief executive of the Regal Entertainment Group, which owns the nation’s largest chain of movie theaters. “This industry is as recession-resistant as any I can think of,” he added.

The results were largely attributable to superheroes, either reinvented ones like “The Dark Knight” (the top moneymaker) or newcomers like “Iron Man” (the runner-up). Four computer-animated movies delivered giant returns, with “Wall-E,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” and “Horton Hears a Who” all in the top 10. A new franchise about a well-behaved teenage vampire was born to tiny Summit Entertainment in “Twilight."

Hollywood’s Superheroes Save the Day

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