2009 Movie Box Office Break UK Records, While Attendance Also Blossoms

Avatar-001

While there’s much suspicion about the validity of Avatar’s box office performance due to inflated 3D ticket prices, the UK Film Council’s 2010 Statistical Yearbook paints a different picture. As reported by The Guardian,

last year was the best ever in terms of box office takings and the second best year since 1971 in terms of admissions, fuelled by the continuing growth of 3D and the through-the-roof success of Avatar, as well as the enduring, recession-resistant appeal of the big screen.  …

In terms of box office, it was a record year with takings topping £944m [about $1,457,000,000]. Cinema admissions also shot up from last year’s healthy 164 million to 174 million, not quite beating 2002 (176 million), but still up 6% and the second highest number since 1971.

As to the impact of 3D,

The 3D revolution arrived in earnest, with 14 3D films accounting for 16% of UK and Ireland box office revenues, up from 0.4%. There are still sceptics but [David Steele, the council’s head of research and statistics] said: “It does not appear to be a flash in the pan.”

Writers’ Strike

WGA strike logo

It’s been five weeks since the Writers Guild of America West and East went on strike against the TV networks and the movie studios. The walkout has been hitting much of film and TV community pretty hard, though it has not affected animation that much. (Most animation writers, including those working on feature films, are represented by The Animation Guild, which is not on strike; those TAG members working on TV shows which have WGA contracts , like The Simpsons, are being affected in various ways; for more details on this aspect of the strike, check out the The Animation Guild Blog.)

The issues involved center around residuals for the so-called new media outlets, such as the Internet; the WGA wants a share of the pie for its members, while the studios (mostly owned by multinational media conglomerates) are resisting. The producers are now hoping to accelerate their negotiations with the Directors Guild of America, whose contract expires in June, in hopes of playing one against the other; the DGA, for its part, has already made a tentative deal with TV networks on “news, sports and operations.” (For the producers’ side of things, check out the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers website.)

How this will all end is not clear. But, with the American presidential primary race in full bloom, it strikes me that film and TV workers in Los Angeles and New York are fairly lucky. Going through such a prolonged strike is no fun, especially for strikers and other film and TV workers who have been put out of work for the duration. However, the film and TV industries are at least represented by unions with some degree of clout. This is not always the case with other unionized sectors of American industry, which, e.g., airlines, seem to negotiate from weakness rather than strength. (The real problem is the small percentage of unionized private sector workers.)

One wonders if next year’s elections will change things that much. The Democratic Party and its candidates rely heavily on the labor movement to get them elected, but recent history does not bode well for union-friendly legislation if the Democrats get back in power. I hope I’m wrong, as the American worker deserves better.