TOKYO – Fewer Japanese bought movie tickets in 1996 than any year in the postwar period, the Japan Motion Picture Assn. said Monday.

The association said 119.6 million people visited theaters in 1996, down from 127 million moviegoers the year before. In 1958, the peak year, more than a billion tickets were sold.

Revenues also were down for the year, with annual box office returns reaching only 148.8 million yen ($1.26 billion), compared with 157.9 million yen ($1.34 billion) the previous year.

Foreign films, mainly U.S. fare, continued to dominate screens in Japan, taking 63.7% of the market.

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