Average values fall in second quarter

Moviegoers paid less for tickets during the second quarter of 2010 than during the first quarter, partly due to lower prices for kids tickets.

According to the National Assn. of Theater Owners, the average ticket price now stands at $7.88, down from $7.95, which NATO attributes to more kids tickets sold this summer and the success of 3D titles in the first quarter.

NATO has been tracking quarterly prices since 2001 and measures tickets sold, including data on childrens’ prices and premium pricing.

Earlier this year, NATO announced that the average ticket price reached an all-time high, due to 3D films like “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland.” This summer, most 3D titles, including “Shrek Forever After” and “Toy Story 3,” sold fewer 3D ducats compared to the year’s earlier 3D offerings.

Average ticket prices have increased 5% over the same quarter last year, with a 10% hike compared to 2008.

“Prices fluctuate throughout the year, depending on what kind of product is in the marketplace,” said Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for NATO. “Last year, we had a big jump from first quarter to second quarter, then it went down slightly in the third. So it really depends on what’s out there.”

“On average over four decades, we’ve managed to keep our price increases lower than the rate of inflation,” Corcoran said, “because theater owners know that their market is the family and that people are price sensitive.”

Disney’s 3D toon “Toy Story 3” is the year’s top-grossing 2010 release, with $379.4 million through Sunday, and is one of several family films to overperform this summer. Sony’s reboot “The Karate Kid” performed tops with families, earning $171.7 million, as well as Universal’s “Despicable Me,” with $161.3 million.

Corcoran credited the summer’s successful family fare as another reason for the decline in prices, with lower children’s prices driving the average down.

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