It’s hard to imagine any kind of business would be excited about a recession, but some experts say the weak economy could potentially result in the movie industry experiencing one of the most lucrative summers in box office history. “Certainly there’s no denying the fact that people are really looking to get out and have some fun and escape the bad news that’s in everyone’s lives,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com. “The economy, I think, is certainly a factor. We typically see this whenever there is a recession or any kind of a down economic time because people just want to escape more, they want fun and they want a good time.” According to Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com, the domestic box office saw increases in five of the country’s past seven recessions and movie revenues were especially high during the Great Depression. “Even though people had a tough time affording food, they had that very human need to be entertained and get out of their heads for a couple of hours,” Dergarabedian said. “It’s similar to how it is now. “The timing is right and the movies are the right movies at the right time, and that’s what’s propelling this,” he added. “Historically, this is what happens. When the going gets tough, people go to the movies. That’s just sort of always been the way it’s played out.” Although times are indeed difficult, both Dergarabedian and Pandya said going to the theater offers families a night of entertainment that is relatively inexpensive. “People are sort of looking to get out of the house and do something that’s easy and cheap, and that’s what going to the movies is all about,” Pandya said. “It’s the movies themselves that get people excited to go to the theater, but it also doesn’t hurt that people are right now looking for outside of the home entertainment that doesn’t cost a lot of money, or that they don’t perceive as costing a lot of money,” Dergarabedian added. “I’ve gone on record several times saying that movies are the cheapest form of therapy out there. For $10 for two hours — that’s five bucks an hour — that’s not bad.” And if the first four months of the year is any indication, the poor economy could produce one of the more successful summers at the box office in terms of revenue. According to Dergarabedian, revenue at the box office is up 17 percent from last year and theater attendance is also up 15 percent. Last summer the movie industry documented a record-breaking $4.2 billion in revenue, which beat out the summer of 2007’s total of $4.18 billion, Dergarabedian said. The summer of 2007 was the first to record over $4 billion at the domestic box office, he added. “The last couple of summers were over $4 billion each, which is huge and really impressive, but who knows, we could be leading up to what will be the first $10 billion year at the box office,” Dergarabedian said. The two highest domestic box office totals were in 2007 with $9.663 billion and in 2008 with $9.63 billion. This month is on pace to be the highest grossing April in box office history and Pandya says that should also help increase revenues this summer. “This summer the April box office has been on fire,” Pandya said. “One of the good things for the industry is that millions of people have been seeing trailers for all the summer films. That is hopefully going to help kick start the summer in a very positive way.” And Pandya says the summer should start off with a bang in May with such blockbusters as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Star Trek,” “Angels & Demons,” “Terminator Salvation,” “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” and Pixar Animation Studio’s “Up.” The summer is also full of other sequels, spin-offs or remakes like “Land of the Lost,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “Bruno,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” which Dergarabedian says is no coincidence. “Summer seems to be like this place where they just put lots of sequels and lots of remakes,” Dergarabedian said. “They bank a lot on those, and the summer movie season, which runs about 18 weeks, accounts for over 40 percent of the total year’s box office, so you can see how important it is for the studios and that’s why they put these big-budget films in this mix. “You have to be a very strong contender to battle it out in this arena because there is a lot of competition, and to stay No. 1 for more than one week you have to really make your mark opening weekend and just hope that you can hang on and compete against every other big blockbuster that has come before you and that is coming immediately after you,” he added. But stiff competition can be a good thing, and although Dergarabedian does not have a crystal ball in his possession, the box office analyst predicts that when it is all said and done, this summer has the potential to end up with a page in the record books. “It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out and how this summer is going to be differentiated from the last couple of summers given the state of the economy and how well the year has been doing thus far,” Dergarabedian said. “I think it is just going to push it to higher levels than perhaps we have ever seen before.” Look out for Adams article on all the upcoming summer movie releases!