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Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 10:08 UK
Hollywood booms during recession

By Sima Kotecha
Newsbeat US reporter

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine
Wolverine is a prequel to the X-Men films, starring Hugh Jackman

Manhattan's a different place under the rays of sunshine. One of the most bustling, energetic cities in the world becomes even more vibrant than usual.

People walk around in their new skimpy outfits and designer shades, trying their best to stay in tune with the latest fashion trends.

Many are eager to make the most of the parks which lie among the skyscrapers.

Friends have picnics or play games in the bright, warm weather.

But even though summer's getting closer in New York, and we've already had a taster of what's to come, some choose to be indoors at the cinema.

I really don't think people are going to stop seeing films here because it's such an ingrained part of our culture
Rebekkah Schear, 26, from LA

The line is long outside Clearview movie theatre in Chelsea.

It might be 23C (73F), but many film fans would rather go to see the new Hugh Jackman flick than get a tan.

With the world's largest economy creaking under the effects of the recession, it's hard to find businesses doing well.

But you might have to go no further than your local cinema to find one.

Yes, Hollywood is booming. Sales are up 14% in the US since January thanks to a strong line up of films that includes Star Trek and Wolverine with more blockbusters on the way.

Summer blockbusters

Wolverine made headlines this weekend by raking in more than £58 million at the US box office.

That's even after a copy of it was leaked onto the internet a month ago.

The film, which stars Hugh Jackman and tells the story of a mutant who becomes a wolverine, was only expected to make £47 million in its first weekend of release.

It exceeded expectations at a time when many don't have a lot of cash in their pockets.

Angels & Demons, the follow up to The Da Vinci code, is due out soon along with Terminator: Salvation which stars Christian Bale.

And then there's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Transformers 2 which are also expected to make big money at the box office.

"It certainly looks like a strong line up," said Patrick Corcoran, from America's Cinema Owners. "Many of the movies already have a strong buzz about them."

Chelsea Cinema
Sales at cinemas in America are up by 14% since January

Even swine flu doesn't seem to have taken the edge off cinema audiences' appetites for a trip to the movies.

It's something that's being "monitored", say cinema chiefs, but so far there's been no effect.

For people with long memories or students of history this shouldn't be a surprise.

Cinema 'switch off'

In America's toughest and longest recession in the 1930s, cinema takings were also up as people tried to get away from the grim realities of life for an hour or two of escapism.

William Bairamian is 25. He's a student at Columbia University in New York."I would say that people are probably going to the cinema more now because it's a way for them to escape from their real troubles in their life," he said.

"They have no money, things are not feeling great right now. You need to switch off for a while."

But just in case you thought it was all good news and a happy ending guaranteed, apparently sales of cinema grub like popcorn and ice cream are down.

The signs are that people are sneaking their own food and drink inside to avoid paying the legendary big mark ups inside America's multiplexes.

Rebekkah Schear is 26, and is from LA.

She said: "Well I never think there's going to a downturn in Hollywood for entertainment.

"Cinema is a great form of entertainment and it's classic America.

"I really don't think people are going to stop seeing films here because it's such an ingrained part of our culture."

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