Movie Magic: When Bigger Is Better

Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

In 2008, Wall Street was wounded, Detroit was roadkill, but Hollywood kept cruising along. Despite a 100-day writers' strike that postponed the release of a few big titles to 2009, and the usual quadrennial dip in attendance as some Americans stayed home to watch the Summer Olympics and follow the presidential campaign, the movie industry weathered the recession, finishing the year close to 2007's $9.7 billion take in domestic (North American) theaters. The number of tickets sold, about 1.33 billion, was the lowest since 1996, but Hollywood won't need a bailout as long as the average ticket price keeps inching up....