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Box office sales outpace disc sales in 2009

Sales at movie theaters have trailed disc sales for years. But in a first in quite some time, consumers spent more at the box office in 2009 than they did on films at home.

You're seeing it in theaters, rather than DVD. Avatar

It hasn't happened since 2002, but box office sales beat out disc sales in 2009, market research firm Adams Media Research said in a report released on Tuesday.

According to Adams, U.S. viewers weren't so keen on buying DVDs in 2009. While it found that consumers spent $250 million buying movies online in 2009, the firm found that physical disc sales dropped by 13 percent year over year, from $10.06 billion in 2008 to $8.73 billion in 2009. Those figures include Blu-ray Disc sales.

Adams said box office spending increased to $9.87 billion in 2009, up 10 percent from $8.99 billion in 2008. Flms such as "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Up" were among those films that lured consumers to theaters.

Adams also looked at movie rentals. The firm found that $1.27 billion was spent on rentals through cable and satellite services in 2009. Consumers spent just $111 million renting films online. All told, rental transactions increased by 5.5 percent in 2009, but overall rental revenue, which includes online, on-demand, and physical-media rentals, grew by less than 1 percent, to $8.15 billion.

These figures do not bode well for the film industry. While box office sales are higher than DVD sales, Hollywood itself is dealing with a revenue crunch that, so far, it hasn't been able to overcome. And as the video game industry continues to evolve as an entertainment alternative to movies, the pressure seems to be on moviemakers to right the ship.