Survey: Movies are on the money today

Boxoffice thriving in sour economic times

Better movies and good value have added up to a surging boxoffice, even while other economic sectors have turned south.

That's the essence of data contained in a new Nielsen study, which compiled data from several consumer surveys to try to answer the question: What's gone right at the nation's multiplexes this year?

The data does show significant concern over entertainment expenditures, Nielsen analysts note. One related survey points out that 64% of responding consumers were making cuts in moviegoing and DVD purchases, second only to less-frequent dining out among areas of diminished spending.

Another Nielsen survey shows 20% of those surveyed acknowledged less frequent moviegoing because of the recession.

Yet analysts said there seem to be two big helpings of saving grace at work at the robust boxoffice these days.

A survey ranking various forms of entertainment as delivering "value for the money" rates "going to the movies" at the top of the list, with 59% of respondents mentioning moviegoing. Among activities not faring as well: concertgoing and attending an amusement park.

Also, based on an uptick in film review ratings and other data, studios seem to be releasing pictures that resonate well with prospective moviegoers, survey author and Nielsen National Research Group general manager Marc Lagrois said.

"The fundamentals are right, and they are being marketed in a smart way," he said.

A key finding in the Nielsen report is that boxoffice "is performing well despite the bad economy -- not because of the bad economy," he added.

The Nielsen Co. is the parent company of Nielsen NRG and The Hollywood Reporter.