2009 A ‘Milestone Year’ For Movie Profits

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:26 pm,

I groaned out loud back in August when I found out about the record-breaking summer 2009 box office profits. Now we’re hearing new projections stating that when New Year’s Eve rolls over into New Year’s Day, the movie industry will have crossed a box office milestone, with profits predicted to exceed the $10 billion mark.

I’m sure we’d all be happy that our favorite medium was thriving in the midst of sharp economic downturn – that is, if so many movies hadn’t turned out to be crap this year. Now, the only thing I’m wondering (and you should too) is: “What lesson will Hollywood take from this?”

Variety is the publication cracking open the profit prediction. If you go back and read our Summer 2009 box office analysis, it explains in depth how a portion of these ‘milestone profits’ were generated by blockbuster sequels, prequels and reboots released in the middle of the calender year. We already know that the beginning of 2009, while not exactly record-setting, still managed to squeeze out some nice gold nuggets for the industry, with films like Watchmen, Monsters vs. Aliens, Quantum of Solace – a Tyler Perry flick here, a Disney 3D concert film there – all helping to bring in the money.

Looking ahead, Variety pegs Holiday Season offerings like  James Cameron’s Avatar, Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel to build on the money-raking momentum of Fall hits like The Twilight Saga: New Moon, A Christmas Carol, and  2012 – all of which have now grossed over $100 million -  in order to boost the 2009 box office tally over that coveted $10 billion mark.

Another big factor in the 2009 movie profit margin? Unexpected hits. Thank Paul Blart: Mall CopSlumdog Millionaire, Taken, a couple of Sandra Bullock flicks (The Proposal, The Blindside), a couple of raunchy-comedies (The Hangover, Couple’s Retreat) and some low-budget success stories (District 9 and Paranormal Activity) for giving the 2009 box office a boost it never saw coming.

20009 unexpected hits 570x361 2009 A Milestone Year For Movie Profits

A few of the surprise hits in 2009…

2008 was also a record-breaking year for the movie industry: $9.64 billion in sales. And you can argue about inflation, increased ticket prices, even pricier 3D and IMAX offerings or whatever… but as of now, in 2009, domestic ticket sales alone are up 8% over 2008 figures and attendance is up 3% – those are telling statistics. Not to mention: the current projections are calling for the box office to jump the $10 billion mark, not just crawl over it. Those kinds of numbers make it hard to argue that the movie business has its head up its you-know-what in terms of creativity, diverse offerings, quality films that people want to see, etc., etc…

But how do you feel as the consumer? Was 2009 a year you’ll remember with a fond smile on your face when you think of the movies?

I already know that this Summer was for sure a disappointing string of letdowns and missed opportunities (Transformers 2 and Wolverine, I’m looking at you guys…). But then again, for every Terminator Salvation, there was also an UP and a Star Trek to revel in; during the Fall season, The Road was there to wash the bad taste of New Moon from my mouth. Back in Winter/Spring, I hardly made it out to the movies (little to see, IMHO), however, now, I find myself watching a 3.5 hour cut of Watchmen over and over again, still debating how I feel about that film. So in the end, looking back, I guess I’m on the fence…

What I personally hope is that Hollywood looks back on 2009 and focuses on the truly original works that made huge money, realizing that it’s A-ok to take a chance on something. I hope they look at the low-budget-turned-high-profit wunderkids and realize that a big-budget has nothing on good storytelling and skillful filmmaking. I hope they look at the Summer sequels that made bank but had fans feeling underwhelmed and realize that a franchise can pump out a half-cooked sequel and fool fans once, but fans WILL take note and demand more of the next go-round. I hope all of these things…

summerpostersmain 2009 A Milestone Year For Movie Profits

Some of the good, bad and ugly of 2009

…But what are we likely to get? Well, if you’ve been following the news here at Screen Rant, then you already know that remakes/reboots/prequels and nostalgic adaptations still seem to be the entree du jour for 2010-2011, and there is no shortage of sequels packed in the pipeline, either. Not to say there aren’t some bright rays of hope – Iron Man 2, Kenneth’s Branagh’s Thor, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson’s Hobbit adaptation, The Avengers, Kick-Ass, and some new projects from the always-creative J.J. Abrams, to name a few… But you’ll have to read about those in Screen Rant‘s upcoming 2010 and 2011 movie preview posts!

For now, one can only wonder if the perfect storm of factors in 2009 – unexpected hits, recession constraints boosting movie attendance – can ever be duplicated. Sure, the box office benchmark set this year could very well be broken next year – but we’ll probably be back to pointing our fingers at 3D and inflation as the reasons for it when that time inevitably comes.

Looking back (and slightly ahead) at 2009, what do you make of the big time box office profits?

Source: Variety

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  1. You can clearly see Piracy is having no effect, some would argue its actually helping profits.

    Online file sharing is to Cinema what Co2 emissions are to global warming…

  2. 790

    Yeah with numbers like that the poor studios will be going under…

  3. @790

    None of this changes the simple, undeniable fact that a movie like Zombieland would have made more money for all involved if people hadn’t pirated the CRAP out of it.

    Hollywood making money overall doesn’t put that stolen money back in the Zombieland writers pockets. Notice Zombieland isn’t even mentioned in that post because it didn’t (and hasn’t) passed the $100 million mark – but it should have.

    I guess people like yourself, 790, never ever learn until the situation is at your doorstep; when somebody’s looser morals snatch money out of YOUR pocket or the pocket of somebody you are close to, just don’t start crying and whining when your complaints get shot down by the fact that the economy is “seeing a record upswing this year.” Would that fiscal reality make you feel any better about the money missing from YOUR pocket?

    I don’t think so…

    As for the whole “stealing is helping” logic… That’s a bunch of B.S. I hope you don’t seriously walk around speaking that nonesense out loud with a straight face.

  4. Personally, aside from a few gems, I really didn’t see much to make this a memorable year besides Star Trek. Yes, UP was a great film, but is it a memorable one that made me run out and buy the Blu-Ray when it was released? Nope. I enjoyed Wolverine and District 9, but neither of them was a real stand out. I just think that the poor economy and some pretty darn good marketing by the studios helped out this year.

    Oh, and I thought Watchmen was horrible. Not as bad as The Day the Earth Stood Still, but it was still boring and drawn out. Thank goodness for Star Trek or this would have been a VERY mediocre movie year for me.

  5. Geez Kofi by the tone of your response to 790 you’d swear that someone stole the money from your pocket…

  6. I thought there were some pretty good films that came: Transformers 2(Yes, I enjoyed that movie. Go on flame away), T4(Yes, I enjoyed that movie as well), “Star Trek”, and “Watchmen”. But, I really wasn’t interested in anything else…other than “Avatar”.

  7. Oh yeah, and there was also that GI: Joe crapfest.

  8. @Kofi, sleep easy Zombieland will make over 100 mil after tv rights and dvd sales. Hell its made 3x’its budget back already. That fact alone should be reason to include it in this article,,, ^
    Assuming that I don’t have any moral realization until I’m confronted at my doorstep is a laughable point to make. The Studios have been looking out their peep holes and dragging their collective ars on how to market movie content for years. Playing dumb and dumber at the same time causing unions to strike, etc,,, its called a working agenda,,,
    When it comes to pirating dvds and bootlegging/posting online content I consider that illegal. I don’t recall promoting that activity in my comments Kofi…
    My point has always been that the studios position behind “online piracy” has been completely exaggerated in an attempt to gain support from lawmakers, in effect to implement their own system of international online regulations that will override our current free system. ^
    If that’s what you stand behind and support good for you bro! If you want to cheer on the studios as they make billions and work with lawmakers to prepare to restrict the internet over a bunch of piracy lies, that’s your right. (For now)

    I shed no tears for them,,,

  9. @Matt Keith

    I assume you mean “crapfest, in my opinion.” 8)


  10. @Vic

    Yeah, sorry about that.

  11. That’s a good question. What do you make from your profits? They have options. Will it be the high road or same old same old?

  12. @Matt Keith

    LOL, just yanking your chain, bud. :-P


  13. Oh how Piracy has taken food off the tables of the Film Industry.

  14. @ Kofi,
    dollars do not equal creativity, (sorry dude!)
    Just because a movie makes a lot of money does not mean the movie was great/original/creative or whatever).
    But of course, that is not how Hollywood’s “creative minds” think, so they will beat/squeaze every last drop of blood=$$$ out of any sequel/prequel/franchise/teenage crap they can manufacture (and they can always remake all the classic movies if everything else fails!)
    And of course blame the writers for bad scripts.
    There are tons of good books/literature that can be made into movies.
    I have no idea how people can afford to go to the movies with the ticket prices (12.50?)being what they are. During the Great Depression people went to the movies 3 times a week, but the prices were something like a nickel. Can you go 3 times a week and spend close to 40 bucks just for the tickets? (3 times a week, 52 weeks in a year = over $2000 a year) And people say they have no money to save for the retirement!LOL!).

    As for myself I’ll save my money and (most of the time)wait until a movie comes out on a DVD and RENT it.

  15. @Matt Keith
    u and people like u r the male version of the twilight girls out there; as 300 and transpunkers works for u twilight and other s***y things works for girls
    as much as abs turn them on ; craps turns u on too
    and this situation will always remain like this…
    u know Vic its like we r stuck in a matrix that runs in an auto-bots hardware

  16. Well PJ, all film is subjective, and one man’s crap is another man’s treasure. I’m sure there are a lot of films that you like that other people consider to be crap.

  17. but oh wait i thought movie piracey was killing the industry. ok so like the globel warming crap that goes on in this country stop lying to us and get off your high horse you act like there is no justification for it but guess what i spent more money after watching a pirated copy becuase it made me think the movie was worth it. besides if the industry really wants to survie then maybe they should stop realisng so much crap.

  18. I’m sure you can thank The Dark Knight for last year’s good box office, but anyways… this just shows Hollywood only cares about money now and they really don’t care if we LIKE the movies they make. I agree about the summer movies though, they were all over the place! There were amazing ones and terrible ones, but 2010 should be a good year for movies. Get ready for Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squekwel! Maybe there is hope…