Hollywood eyes record $10 billion box office for 2009

Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:02pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film box offices were poised on Wednesday to eclipse 2007's record $9.68 billion in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales with Hollywood eyeing more than $10 billion this year as audiences flocked to theaters during the recession.

Movie studios began the year with January crossing the $1 billion mark for the first time ever, and box offices this month are counting on help from highly anticipated films such as "Avatar," "Sherlock Holmes" and "It's Complicated."

So far, moviegoers had snapped up $9.67 billion worth of tickets at domestic -- U.S. and Canadian -- box offices through Tuesday, said tracking firm Hollywood.com Box Office.

The firm said 2007's record was expected to be surpassed on Wednesday, as Hollywood reaps returns during a recession that, as in past downturns, has seen consumers showing up in theaters for relatively cheap entertainment.

Last year's domestic box office came in at $9.63 billion.

"The global economy is taking a major hit, and when these conglomerates that own movie studios are having a tough time, it's at least one bright spot in the equation," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box Office. "People are still, in 2009, going to the movies in big numbers."

For the entire year, Hollywood.com Box Office expects movie ticket spending in the United States and Canada to hit $10.6 billion.

The year has been helped by major releases such as "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," the year's biggest hit with $402 million in domestic ticket sales, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.   Continued...