In Slate today, Edward Jay Epstein says
Once upon a time—two generations ago—the movie business was about making movies. Nowadays, it is about creating intellectual property that can be licensed in a raft of different markets. The Hollywood studios still make movies, of course, but by 2005, only 14.2 percent of their revenues came from movie ticket sales, while 85.8 percent came from licensing or selling their products for use in the home.If Epstein’s figures are accurate, ordinary press reports about a movie’s performance at the box office, its opening weekend grosses, etc., are radically divorced from market reality. If any given movie makes eight times more money from licensed products than from its theatrical release, its box office receipts take on a very different meaning. A movie’s box office receipts become a mere numerator.