Box-Office Blowout

What's really driving studios' record-setting year

It's a comeback of cinematic proportions: in the first four months of 2012, big-screen releases took in nearly $3.2 billion at the U.S. box office, a whopping 17% increase over the same period last year (during which attendance hit an 18-year low). "The Vow, Safe House, 21 Jump Street--so many movies have overperformed," says Gitesh Pandya, editor of noting that summer and fall flicks, whose trailers aired before the early-year releases, will also benefit from the sky-high returns. So what's driving the boom? A combination of smart casting, smarter marketing and an idea as old as commerce itself:...

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