Employment in the motion picture and television industry jumped by nearly ten percent in California over the past year, according to a report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
The industry added 11,700 employees to its rolls as the amount of on-location filming in the state also increased, however, the major studios continued to grapple with the digital threats to its home entertainment business and declining theatrical attendance.
Employment may have been up industry-wide, but the larger macro-economic trends are troubling. Pure and simple, fewer Americans went to the movies last year.
Domestic box office receipts last year fell by 3.7 percent to $10.2 billion in 2011, while attendance dropped 4.6 percent to its lowest level since 1995.
On the home entertainment front, Hollywood continued to struggle to prop up sluggish DVD sales and encourage consumers to buy digital copies of movies and television shows.
Consumer spending on home entertainment was down by 2 percent in 2011, the seventh consecutive year that spending in the sector dropped.
“Recent attempts by Hollywood to keep people buying movies as they ditch DVD discs in favor of Internet-connected TVs, smartphones and tablets were slow in coming and have gotten off to a rocky start,” the report’s authors wrote.
In particular, the report's authors said that UltraViolet, the cloud-based platform backed by studios, represents an important step in the industry’s attempts to revitalize home entertainment sales. Yet, they say that the launch of the service has been marred by reports that it is “confusing and buggy.”
Locally, the picture for the film industry was much rosier. Thanks to film tax credits, the report says that the number of permitted production days increased by 4.2 percent in 2011, but could not match the post-recession bounce of 14.9 percent the previous year.
By setting aside $100 million annually, the report argues that California has helped slow the migration of films outside of the state.