Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

No escaping the crunch for arts, entertainment in 2009


bonoThe world of entertainment, especially film, tends to benefit when times are tough, as people seek to escape worries about their job, mortgage, children’s education or heating bills. But 2009 is likely to be a tough one for movies, music, theatre, art, books and most other forms of diversion you can think of.

Hollywood has already seen studios downsized and movie projects ditched thanks to budgetary concerns, a trend which some experts expect to continue into the new year. Raising finances to fund new pictures has become more complicated, and despite major releases like Harry Potter, Watchmen, Wolverine, Transformers, Angels & Demons and Star Trek to name but a few, there is no guarantee that box office attendances will reverse this year’s decline.

2008 music sales are expected to show a double-digit percentage drop in the United States, and a smaller decline in the UK, and few executives would predict anything different for 2009. Irish rockers U2 bring out their delayed new album in March, and next year will (probably) also bring new releases from Bruce Springsteen, Eminem and Robbie Williams. Also worrying for pop stars is evidence that the boom in live touring, which has helped many make up for a shortfall in record sales, may be coming to an end. All but the very biggest acts may struggle to fill that stadium, arena, auditorium or pub.

Theatre attendances could be hit by the recession, and art galleries counting their pennies may be forced to focus on smaller exhibitions to replace the risky and more expensive “blockbuster” shows that have dominated in recent years. Auction houses are also braced for a tough 2009, as falling prices for oil, metals, stocks, property and other assets take their toll on the world’s rich and super-rich.