Hollywood's Economic Blockbuster

For the nine in 10 Americans not traveling Memorial Day weekend, an air-conditioned movie might be the best bargain around.

Hollywood came of age during the Great Depression, when movies cost as little as a dime. And even today, at $10 a ticket, the industry is beating the recession with a series of hits.

CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports that with blockbusters like "Star Trek," the movies are boldly going where they've never gone before.

"We're on a record breaking pace," says Hollywood.com president Paul Dergarabedian. "We're gonna hit $10 billion in revenue for the very first time ever."

U.S. box office sales are up almost 16 percent, with nearly half a billion tickets already sold this year. Attendance is up 13 percent, after it actually fell in 2008.

And the summer blockbuster season, which accounts for more than 40 percent of yearly box office, is just beginning.

The recession is good for business, Dergarabedian says, because "human beings need an escape." He calls it recession therapy.

"And at $10 a ticket, that's pretty inexpensive therapy to boot," he adds.

Even the more expensive IMAX films are drawing bigger crowds.

"Well, $20 for a ticket is a little steep. But you make exceptions," says moviegoer Chris Marino.

So popcorn has become the comfort food of this recession. But Americans aren't just going out to the movies more, they're watching more movies at home.

The rental company Netflix has seen its revenue jump 21 percent this year, after adding 920,000 new subscribers.

Netflix's Steve Swasey explains, "A rising tide lifts all boats."

Comedies, adventures, even horror movies -- they're all drawing a crowd.

"I suppose the only movie that wouldn't play well right now would be, like 'Mortgage: The Movie'," Dergarabedian quips.

If this recession were a film, the movie industry might not want it to end.

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