Cinema Sales Outpace Discs in 2009

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It’s been a long time since cinema sales last managed to outperform sales of disc-based media for movies, but it seems that in 2009 cinema has managed to push past discs again.

According to Adams Media Research, the strong performance from cinemas was bolstered by the release of “3D exhibition at a premium price,” which seems as though it could be a fairly roundabout way of saying that Avatar has been performing so very well that it’s managed to pull in crowds that cinemas haven’t seen in quite a while. Indeed, it seems that 3D cinema provides enough spectacle to draw in big crowds, with the news that Avatar has managed to pull become the fourth biggest grossing film ever, already.

Moreover, it’s not just the fact that ticket sales have spiked that’s driven cinema ahead of sales of disk based media over the last year. Cnet is reporting that sales of disc-based media saw a drop of fully 13% last year, making the competition a little less tough than it might otherwise have been.

Of course, the big question will be just how well this positive trend for cinema will translate into DVD sales next year. There could very well be a pronounced drop-off in the total number of DVD sales as 3D movies become increasingly popular, at least until we see 3D displays start to gain a little more traction. Still, it seems strange to think that movies performing as well as some recent 3D films have been could be relegated to relative failure when they leave cinemas, with too few people having displays at home that can do them justice.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see, but it seems as though films with production values as high as Cameron’s Avatar could well be in trouble once the general viewing public gets more used to movies in 3D. Once 3D itself stops being a spectacle, it’ll be curious to see how well those films perform in the take-home stakes.

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