Cost averaging $7.71 per ticket vs. last quarter's $7.88

Domestic average ticket prices have been on the decline since early this year, and according to the National Assn. of Theater Owners, third quarter costs are continuing the trend, averaging $7.71 per ticket vs. last quarter’s $7.88 average ticket price.

NATO attributed the 2% decline to fewer 3D tentpoles this quarter as well as a broader mix of tentpoles, adult-skewing pics and family titles.

“I think ‘Avatar’ skewed everything,” said Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for NATO.

“Premium 3D pricing, as well as what audiences are attracted to and when they’re going, all figure in.”

Less expensive ducats means good news for moviegoers. To date, admissions are down 1.4% from last year, according to NATO.

This quarter, which ran from July 1-Sept. 30, saw most of its 3D profit from Universal’s “Despicable Me,” though second quarter 3D holdover “Toy Story 3,” from Disney and Pixar, also skewed attendance toward 3D family fare. “Despicable Me” has cumed $247.6 million domestically, while $159.8 million of “Toy 3’s” total $413.5 million came from the third quarter.

Corcoran said that despite higher 3D prices, family-driven pics often drive the average down, thanks to lower children’s ticket prices.

And while adult-oriented pics have done well at the box office of late, most have achieved modest grosses — Warner’s “Inception,” with $290.5 million, is the sesh’s main exception.

“While these adult-skewing films are performing well, they’re still not big blockbusters,” Corcoran noted.

Last year’s average price was $7.50, but this year’s average price for the year of $7.85 shows that 3D prices are still a significant factor.

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