Usually, my email is over-flowing with news of box office records no matter how obscure. But the compliant Hollywood news outlets are hardly publicizing the latest big bold movie precedent set this month. MediaByNumbers.com was first to spread the news Sunday: from January 1, 209 to February 1st, 2009, year-to-date North American grosses were $1.028 billion, compared to 2008’s January take of $867.2 million. And let’s not forget that every week this January the studios boasted to me how cheaply they made and marketed all these films that did so well. So revenue was up 18.57%. Attendance was up 16.78%. (Of course, none of these stats mean much because they’re not adjusted for inflation or higher ticket prices. But that never stops anyone from celebrating these kinds of announcements. And they’re a reason why Disney’s Bob Iger and News Corp’s Peter Chernin get paid annually in the $30M range.) Yet there’s no lead story about this $1B gross benchmark in either Variety or The Hollywood Reporter. At the same time, NBC set a record and sold out its Super Bowl ads for $201 million. But that isn’t prominent in the trades either. Here’s what I think: the studios and networks want this good news played on the downlow in Hollywood (as opposed to the layoffs bulletins) when the AMPTP is restarting contract talks with SAG’s “task force” — aka the newly configured negotiating committee — on Tuesday. Because isn’t it amazing how Big Media can keep making so much money but never filter it down to either their staff or the showbiz guilds?
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