Sony Pictures”Skyfall” was one of the top-earning films at the box office last year earning more than $1 billion worldwide.Global ticket sales broke records in 2012, hitting $34.7 billion internationally, thanks to the strength of foreign markets and a rebound at the domestic box office.
Overall, the box office rose 6 per cent last year, according to a state of the movie industry report released Thursday by the Motion Picture Association of America.
The findings were further evidence that Hollywood’s obsession with crossing language and cultural barriers to broaden its footprint is paying off in dividends. In particular, China, with its burgeoning population of moviegoers, announced itself emphatically as the dominant foreign market last year.
It surpassed Japan to be the biggest international source of box office revenue, contributing $2.7 billion in total. That was a 36 per cent jump from the previous year and may be partly attributable to the country loosening restrictions on the number of foreign films that can be shown in its theatres.
The WrapBut it wasn’t alone. All international markets, with the exception of Europe which fell 1 per cent to $10.7 billion, grew in 2012. Even the United States and Canada, which saw declines in 2011, painted a more salutatory picture this past year.
Box office in North America rose 6 per cent to $10.8 billion last year; the first time it has grown since 2009. Admissions in the U.S. and Canade also reversed a two year slide, increasing 6 per cent to 1.36 billion, while ticket prices remained flat.
As a percentage of the total box office, international markets remained flat. They contributed 69 per cent to the box office, the same percentage as last year.
One place where the movie business was sluggish was 3D. The rose-tinted glasses had been all the rage in recent years, as studios were eager to embrace a format that allowed them to tack on a healthy surcharge and get on the post-“Avatar” bandwagon.
Yet, the number of 3D releases fell from 45 to 36 in 2012. The format’s contribution to the overall box office in the United States and Canada remained stable, with 3D movies contributing $1.8 billion in ticket sales. That was roughly in line with last year, but a drop from a high of $2.2 billion in 2010.
The numbers also showed that studios ignore Hispanic moviegoers in this country at their own peril. Although, Hispanics only represent 17 per cent of the population in the United States and Canada, they comprise 26 per cent of ticket buyers. Studios like Lionsgate and Universal have made a point in recent years of targeting this demographic, particularly with genres like horror that tend to appeal to Hispanics.
There was some heartening news for an industry that has feared it is losing the kids to other diversions like video games and iPhones. In 2012, the number of frequent moviegoers who went to the cinema once a month or more increased in nearly every age group. The largest frequent moviegoing age groups (18-24 year olds and 25-39 year olds) both grew.
The popularity of adult dramas like “Lincoln,” however, may have led to more grey hair in the audience.
Moviegoers aged 40 to 49, accounted for 5.8 million frequent moviegoers in 2012, a big jump compared to the 3.3 million they made up in 2011.
The term “film” itself may soon become an anachronism. Particularly in this country, the conversion from film to digital is nearly complete. In 2012, the number of digital screens in the U.S. increased by 29 per cent to 19,570. They now account for 83 per cent of all U.S. screens, which spells bad news for those straggling theatres, many of them independently owed and operated, who have yet to pay tens of thousands of dollars for new digital projectors.
Globally, over two-thirds of the world’s nearly 130,000 cinema screens are now digital. There’s a reason the mantra for theatres is convert or die.
This story was originally published by The Wrap.
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