Movie theaters see increase in patrons - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Movie theaters see increase in patrons

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The economy may be forcing some people to cut entertainment expenses from their budgets, but movie theaters are seeing higher sales. Tracking sites say ticket sales are up 17.5% this year at around $1.7 billion.

On Sunday afternoon, the Mindframe Theaters lobby crowds with families there to see the newest family flick, Monsters vs. Aliens. Despite the tough economy, owners say tickets are selling and people aren't skipping out on concessions.

"People want to enjoy themselves, they want to get away some, and you need to. You need to get away from your problems for a little while, escape. And movies are still the cheapest way to do that," co-owner Steve Thompson said.

And based on history, movie theater owners often predict bigger crowds during recessions.

"During the Great Depression, one of the best businesses around at that time was the movies. People couldn't afford to do anything else, but they could scrape together enough for 25 cents or whatever a ticket was, and go escape and have a good time," Thompson said.

Moms and dads say the costs can add up quick to bring a whole family, but most admit they're finding themselves in theater seats more this winter than before.

"Oh, you know, not much else to do. It's cold outside and it's kind of a fun thing to do, so we're out here with our two kids and we're going to watch and hang out," Jill Arno said.

Mindframe owners expect the upswing to continue with more and more moviegoers.

"This summer is looking to be a really big summer. It's jam-packed with big movies... This summer looks like it'll probably break all records," Thompson said.

Proven blockbusters dominate the summer 2009 lineup. New Terminator, Star Trek, Night at the Museum, Harry Potter, Transformers, and X-Men movies are all due out this summer.

Media by numbers says it's not an increase in ticket prices driving increased theater dollars. Attendance is also up, nearly matching the sales increase at 16%.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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