THE NUMBERS REPORT

If, like all those people chewing their knuckles in Hollywood, you ever wondered why movie box office receipts have been slowing markedly the past few years, the reason is this: According to comscore.com, 86 million people turned to playing games online this past December, an increase of 27 percent from the previous year. The total amount of time spent playing online has gone up by 42 percent.

Yahoo.com was the most popular gaming site, with 19 million visitors last December, followed by Electronic Arts (EA.com) with 15 million visitors and Disney with 13 million. The numbers are growing at around 20 percent a year. We forsee a time when movies will be shown like opera today, in special theaters for high prices and narrow audiences. (By way of marking the tectonic shift taking place in the entertianment world, the latest version of the computer game “Grand Theft Auto IV” had $500 million in sales in its first week last year. And that doesn’t count the add-on enhancements, all of which are still selling.) 

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