Burnt-Out Election Junkies Turn Up in Cinemas Seeking Escape

Until last week, film fans at iPic Theaters wanted lobby TVs turned to CNN and Fox News to keep up with latest election developments. Now theyre asking for the sets to be turned off.

After one of the most bruising presidential elections ever, ticket sales at Boca Raton, Florida-based iPic Theaters are up and interest in politics is down, founder and Chief Executive Officer Hamid Hashemi said Thursday in an e-mail. The movies are becoming an escape again.

People are fed up with news and the election talk, said Hashemi, whose iPic-Gold Class Entertainment LLC operates 15 locations ranging from the Democrat-heavy states of New York and California to Republican strongholds such as of Arizona, Florida and Texas. Business seems better than usual for this time of year.

People of all political stripes are suffering from whats been called post-election stress disorder, Hashemi said, and looking for a diversion like Marvels Doctor Strange or the new sci-fi Arrival. IPics theaters are part of the newest generation of cinemas offering in-seat dining, reclining seats and cocktail bars.

Last weekend, the first after the election, sales for the top 10 movies in U.S. and Canadian theaters grew 56 percent from year a earlier, benefiting in part from Veterans Day. Theyre forecast to increase another 7 percent this weekend with the opening of the J.K. Rowling feature Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, according to analysts at BoxOfficePro.com. North American ticket revenue is up 4.5 percent for the year to date, according to researcher ComScore Inc.

For so many weeks it was hard for people to take their eyes off the TV screen, now they want to get away, said Barton Crockett, analyst at FBR Capital Markets. The top films last weekend yielded more than Crockett expected, and Fantastic Beasts will probably exceed his $58 million weekend forecast, he said. Analysts at BoxOfficePro.com predict $82 million.

Some of what fans see on the big screen will have political overtones. Fantastic Beasts is set in 1926 New York, where wizards have gone underground to hide from rising prejudice. The opening scenes include a newspaper front page that asks, Is anyone safe?

Arrival, featuring a linguist trying to communicate with invading aliens, is about existential anxieties around isolationist foreign policy, according to Daniel Loria at BoxOfficePro. Kelly Reichardts Certain Women, now in 120 locations, follows three women trying to crack the glass ceiling in a small Montana town.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-18/burnt-out-election-junkies-turn-up-in-cinemas-seeking-escape