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Going to the Movies!!

March 6, 2011

While reading the New York Times this morning, I came across an interesting statistic.  In 1948, which was the peak, the average weekly attendance at the movies was 90 million.  Today, the average is 26 million.  Being the number nut that I am I had to look into this  further.

In 1948 the US population was 147 million (rounded up from 146.6 million), today the population is about 308 million.  That means that we have gone from 61% to 8% of the population going to the movies weekly.  The reasons for this are obvious to even the casual observer, but let’s let the numbers tell the story.  In 1948 only 0.4% of households had a television set compared to 99% today.  Today the average household has 2.4 television sets.  Add to this DVD rentals/purchases, blu- ray discs, streaming of movies and tv shows, and it is not hard to see the reason for the decline.

Not to mention the cost factor.  A movie ticket in 1948 averaged 40 cents compared to $7.50 today.  Ironically, the minimum wage in 48 was 40 cents per hour, today the federal minimum is $7.25, so it still takes an hour’s wage to get a movie ticket.

The real demise of movie goers can be seen in the following example.  Let us look at a family of four.  To go to a movie today would cost $30 for tickets (average), not counting the money spent on popcorn etc.  For about $7.99 a month that same family can rent from Netflix and see an average of 10 movies in a month’s time.  Thirty dollars versus 80 cents per movie, a no brainer.

Having said all this, there still is not much that can compare to going to a movie, sitting with those you love, eating popcorn with milk duds, and letting yourself be transported to another time and place, free of all the outside distractions for 114 minutes  (or longer).

Oh, and one other interesting tidbit from 1948,  “Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 LP (“long playing”) record at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It allows listeners to enjoy an unprecedented 25 minutes of music per side, compared to the four minutes per side of the standard 78 rpm record.”

See you at the movies!!–at least 8% of you!

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