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WHILE WE WERE AWAY...
Sales Show Expected Holiday Strength At the Dawn of Aught-Five
Against a backdrop of widening worldwide calamity, 2004 finally ran its course and we've officially rung in a new year. But as we crank up our little Web machine one more time and await final sales numbers for the last week of the year, we can report that Christmas figures looked pretty darn good.

For the week ending Sunday, Dec. 26, sales of recorded music in the U.S. were up 17.5% (4.9 million units) over the previous week, and for the first time in 15 weeks compared favorably to sales during the same week last year, up 4.5% (1.4 million units). For the year as a whole, sales were up 1.4% (9.2 million units) compared to the same point last year. Yes, we’re still in positive territory.

The Christmas Week chart numbers looked pretty healthy as well, with the Top 38 selling over 100k apiece, and the Top 20 each moving 200k or better.

Eminem’s Encore (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) is the big December winner, moving 430k for the week ending the 26th and adding over a million units sold over the last three weeks. Eminem was followed at #2 by Capitol’s Now 17 (356k), while the rest of the Top 5 comprised Interscope’s U2 (350k) Columbia’s Destiny’s Child (slightly under 350k) and Mercury Nashville’s Shania Twain (347k).

At #6, Usher’s Confessions (LaFace/ZLG) maintains its place as the top-selling album of the year, moving another 316k for the week and bringing the February release’s total to 7.9 million with one week of sales yet to be added.

Just for a little contrast, an unofficial tally of the total 2004 movie box-office take (just one of the many revenue streams enjoyed by the film business) indicates theaters had an up year, with revenue climbing 1.4% to $9.4 billion, up from $9.27 billion last year.

Vivendi Universal’s Meet the Fockers has topped the box-office chart for the past two weeks and has set new records for grosses on New Year’s Eve ($12.2 million) and New Year’s Day ($18 million). The previous top grosses were $8.5 million (Cast Away) and $12.8 million (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), respectively.

Happy new year.
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