It's news like this that casts doubt on Hollywood's soapbox crusade against piracy: Variety is reporting that even with a few key weeks still to go, the cumulative box office haul for 2009 has been a gobsmacking $9.48 billion, a number I'd also like to write in full so as to appreciate how many zeroes are involved: $9,480,000,000.00. That figure is only $175 million below the historical high, too, which means that come the release of Sherlock Holmes, Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squekuell, and a certain movie called Avatar that absolutely no one is paying attention to, 2009 should be resetting the record.

Say what you will about the languishing lack of creativity in Hollywood, but that number is impressive; particularly so considering the rest of the world is suffering the crushing effects of the dreaded recession. Appropriate enough, though, it is this very same suffering that has, most likely, been the fuel for the (soon to be) groundbreaking number. Though ticket prices have been rising in years, going to the movies is comparatively more affordable than most other sources of family entertainment, making a trip to the theater a welcome does of mental Novocaine during tough times.

And it's not only the premium price of 3D and IMAX tickets that has buoyed the movie industry's collective balance sheets, as total admissions are also up 3% over the rates seen in 2008. I for one know that I've made considerably more trips to the theater in 2009 than I did in 2008, but that's largely thanks to a move from Northern Virginia to Austin, Texas, home of the legendary Alamo Drafthouse. But what about you? Are you part of that 3% statistic that has been stockpiling on ticket stubs or have your movie-going habits remained unaffected by the economy at large?