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“There are millions and millions of jobs at stake,” Fithian said.

To lure in consumers, some theater owners are experimenting with variable pricing that would allow them to sell more expensive tickets to new releases and then lower the price once the film has been out for many weeks, Fithian said.

Even so, going to the movies remains one of the nation’s most affordable pastimes, especially compared to professional sports games, Fithian said.

“It’s possible that 2012 may be the year where we all work together to grow the pie instead of fighting over the pieces,” he said.