Three Reasons Americans Need Theaters Now

By: Richard McNeal

In today's economic recession, many have lost their jobs, more can't find work, and unemployment rates are breaking records. While many businesses are as hard-pressed as consumers, one industry could see an increase in business during these rough economic times: movie theaters.

Historically, Americans have always turned to the cinema to escape their everyday woes. In the Great Depression, movie theaters drew nearly 60-70 million viewers each week, more than half of the population at the time. Skip ahead to today's recession, and it's easy to see why Americans still love to go to the movies. Here are a few reasons why Americans are attracted to movie theaters during times of economic hardship.

1. Cinema is an affordable form of entertainment.
Logic would seem to dictate that with money and budgets getting tighter, less people would find themselves spending extra cash at the theater. Yet, some sources say that movie theater attendance during the Great Depression was higher than attendance during times of economic growth and expansion. And that makes sense. As a relatively cheap form of entertainment, attending a local movie theater allowed Americans to forget the troubling economic times without making their financial situation worse.

The same principle should apply today, too. While many of us can't afford to take a luxury vacation, or spring for a night in a ritzy hotel, we can usually spare the admission to a local movie theater. According to a recent study from the Motion Picture Association of America, 172 million people went the movies in 2007. That year, there was also an increase among occasional and non-moviegoers -- which means more people are filling up theaters. Instead of attracting consistent moviegoers, the industry is drawing a broader audience, perhaps due to the dismal economy.

2. Movies can improve your mood and outlook.
In the Great Depression, many people enjoyed going to the movies because a trip to the theater often seemed to improve their outlook. Since movies tended to conclude with a happy ending, people left the theater with an equally positive sense of pleasure and warmth. You'll get the same warm, fuzzy feeling from watching a modern uplifting film.

3. Movies help viewers escape from everyday concerns.
So what is it about a movie theater that so effortlessly appeals to the human spirit? Escape, perhaps. People want to escape from the pressures of life, and they want to forget about the crummy economy. And movies theaters provide just that. They allow the mind to transcend its current reality into a new one, even if only for a couple of hours. For a brief moment in time, there are no cares, no worries, and no responsibilities. This ability, to break away from the stresses of life, is that which keeps the spirit alive, and eventually, leads back to prosperity.

Thus, the movie theater is a potentially powerful force in our current economic crisis. Movie theaters definitely do their part in the journey. They help lift spirits and rejuvenate those who make America work -- not presidents and politicians, but you and me.

If you need to unwind, if you need a break from reality, if you need a little hope: grab friend and family, and head to your local movie theater. You'll leave inspired, hopeful, and ready to face the world.

~Richard McNeal, 2009

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