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Digital technology has opened the doors for alternate theatrical content, from simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera to fresh editions of “A Prairie Home Companion.” Nearly 2 million people attended theatrical events from NCM Fathom, the company responsible for programs such as Glenn Beck’s Jan. 30 tag-team event with fellow Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

The latter proved the top-drawing event for Fathom, followed by the Feb. 4 “Companion” broadcast and “Glenn Beck Live: Broke — Restarting the Engine of America.”

Animated films dominated the top-10 movie list in 2010, securing four of the coveted slots. They ranged from another Pixar gem (“Toy Story 3”) to the fourth and final film, or so the minds behind the big green ogre say, in the “Shrek” franchise.

Chuck Walton, senior editor with Fandango.com, said to expect more of the same in the animation realm for 2011 — and beyond.

“It’s one genre with legroom for original stories,” Mr. Walton said, citing “Despicable Me” and “Megamind,” with their complex yarns, as examples of films that take risks with conventional motifs.

The just-wrapped film year saw such wannabe franchise-starters as “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” “Robin Hood” and “The A-Team” disappoint, but they still made buckets more cash than the average independent film.

But the growth of video-on-demand technology is letting consumers order foreign, independent and documentary films, often before they hit their local art-house cinemas — or see them at all, in the case of smaller markets.

That means films such as the financial documentary “Inside Job” and the fact-based drama “All Good Things” will have a bigger impact in the years to come, Mr. Walton said. And when the Oscar nominations are announced, consumers will be able to see some of the nominated films from the comfort of their living rooms.

Looking ahead, Mr. Parsons sees audiences starting to savor country-themed projects, from out-and-out oaters such as “True Grit” to more westernized yarns such as “Crazy Heart.” And with the “Harry Potter” franchise drawing to a close in 2011, expect film studios to scramble to fill the void left in the teen wizard’s wake.