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Hollywood's record haul: why 2012 was a great year for movies

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Moreover, “The Hunger Games” $152 million in March was unprecedented, according to Paul Dergarabedian, a film industry analyst at Hollywood.com.

“Franchises rule, along with fantasy film. That’s the main message here – escapist, mainstream entertainment ruled the box office,” says Wheeler Winston Dixon, editor of the Quarterly Review of Film and Video at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. 

He says people want to see what they’ve seen before, with a new twist, “The Hobbit, for example got generally lackluster reviews compared to 'Lord of the Rings,' but did very well in ticket sales,” he says. “And Skyfall … has crossed over into the billion dollar range, proof that people want the safe, the familiar and the known.”

Gomery says another trend that might be getting less notice is the staying power of older-than-50 audiences.

“There is sufficient evidence that baby boomers, who have been counted out as movie theater goers – who allegedly shifted to TV, and DVDs – are still going to the movies,” says Gomery. Exhibit A: Skyfall.

“This generation grew up on Bond and have made the latest iteration a giant hit that no one expected.”

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