Affordable out-of-home entertainment still strong

January 2009 movie box office numbers confirm the strength of affordable community-based entertainment during the current recession.

There may be a recession out there, but affordable community-based entertainment appears to be holding its own. We previously reported that October 2008 agritainment (also called agritourism) business was up. The movie theater box office can be a bellwether of what’s happening. If so, things aren't looking so grim in this new year. The movie industry just saw its strongest January on record. Revenues were up nearly 20% and attendance up 16% over the same period last year, reaching $1.03 billion in sales. Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media by the Numbers, said, "I think people feel movies are a good value for their dollar. Going to the movies is a habit people aren't willing to break... And for now at least, moviegoing is the mini family vacation."

The reason movies are doing so well may be because people want to be distracted from their troubles. Movies offer a great two-hour escape. The experience can be restorative. Researchers say during a recession, people tend to go off diets and turn to comfort food and rich desserts. In a sense, the movies and other out-of-home entertainment experiences, such as agritainment and FECs, offer comfort food for the mind.