Worldwide film box-office sales rose about 4 percent to a record $35.9 billion last year, led by soaring spending in China, the second-largest market.
Sales in China increased by about 27 percent to $3.6 billion last year, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, which released year-end statistics today.
“China has had a meteoric rise,” Christopher Dodd, the MPAA’s chairman and chief executive officer, said today at a press conference in Las Vegas, where film exhibitors are holding their annual convention. “It’s been a very strong year, for the industry and particularly for the international market.”
China represents a challenge and opportunity for U.S. studios. The government restricts the number of foreign-made films that can be released in theaters, allowing just 34 imports a year. That hasn’t damped industry enthusiasm for the market. Dodd said he will ask China to remove the quotas when he goes to an upcoming film festival in Beijing.
The MPAA’s CEO was asked about reports that Russia may restrict U.S. films. Dodd said he wasn’t aware of any effort by that country to limit U.S. film imports. U.S. movies account for about 70 percent of the Russian market.
Revenue in the U.S. and Canada, the largest film market, increased about 1 percent to $10.9 billion, led by Hollywood blockbusters such as “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Iron Man 3.” Thirty-five films grossed more than $100 million domestically last year, up from 31 in 2012, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, an industry researcher.
The domestic gain was the result of higher ticket prices. Admissions fell 1.5 percent to 1.34 billion, the MPAA said. The industry’s most loyal fans, representing 11 percent of the population, accounted for 50 percent of admissions.
To help spark attendance, U.S. cinema owners are considering the possibility of offering discounts one day a week, according to John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Ticket revenue in Japan, which fell to the No. 3 position in 2012, held steady at $2.4 billion, the MPAA said.
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