You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pic tix drop but 3D pops

Biz sets global box office record in 2010

The continued rise of 3D and booming international markets offset a decline in North American movie attendance in 2010, resulting in another global box office record high at $31.8 billion, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s annual report, released Wednesday.

Despite a 5% drop in tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada, the final worldwide tally was 8% better than last year’s global high mark. That’s in part because 3D doubled last year’s domestic share with $2.2 billion, contributing 21% of overall North American totals.

In the end, the domestic box office repeated last year’s record perf of $10.6 billion. It’s the second time in four years that domestic totals held steady; both 2007 and 2008 clocked in at $9.6 billion.

The org’s official rundown is in line with 2010 year-end projections made earlier this year. MPAA prexy and interim CEO Bob Pisano and John Fithian, prexy-CEO of the National Assn. of Theater Owners, made the joint announcement via conference call.

One of the more compelling stats in the report’s centers on demographic breakdowns of frequent moviegoers: That group contributed more than half of 2010 ticket sales while making up just 11% of the population.

Latin America was up 25% in terms of box office contributions while Asia Pacific grew by 21%, the biggest changes vs. 2009 overseas. Brazilian B.O. rose 30%, lifting the totals in Latin America, while the Asia Pacific category was boosted by phenomenal growth in China, which increased 64% last year.

International 2010 totals ended up above $20 billion for the first time ever, outstripping 2009’s benchmark by 13%.

North American admissions per capita — the number of tickets sold per person — were at their lowest since 1993, with an average 4.1 ducats sold. Pisano attributed the decline in part to the U.S. “boomer bulge” as auds over 50 are less likely to visit the multiplexes more than once a month.

“There’s an obvious trend (that) when audiences get older, they go to the movies less,” Pisano said.

Fithian said one of the biggest factors in turning the attendance tide over the coming years will be 3D. Nearly one-quarter of the world’s current total screen count is digital, with 60% of those 3D-equipped. Global digital rollout is expected to be finished by 2013, according to Fithian, which would double the current digital count.

And while studios are releasing fewer films overall — “The economic situation has affected production,” Pisano said — there has been a hike in studio 3D releases, with 25 in 2010 vs. 20 the previous year. Last year’s top three domestic grossers (“Avatar,” “Toy Story 3” and “Alice in Wonderland”) were in 3D. Currently, 33 titles are slated to unspool in 3D this year.

Another result of 3D’s heightened contribution is rising average ticket prices, which NATO pegged at $7.89 per ducat in 2010, up from $7.50 in 2009. Though adjusted for inflation, “theater owners continue to offer their patrons the lowest-priced form of home entertainment, with the average movie ticket, including premium-priced tickets, costing less than it did in 1970,” Fithian said.

Both Pisano and Fithian avoided the topic of potentially shortened theatrical windows caused by early VOD bows, but did highlight the importance of consumer choice in the marketplace, notably with 2D and 3D formats. “That kind of flexibility in offerings is important in driving attendance,” Fithian said.

Pisano also noted increased moviegoing among Hispanic auds. In 2010, 43 million Hispanic filmgoers bought 351 million ducats, up from 37 million buying 300 million tickets in 2009.

By comparison, Caucasians, which rep 66% of the North American population, made up 56% of ticket sales, while Hispanics made up 26% with only 16% of the population.

With a few shining beacons on the horizon for this year’s B.O., including growing audience sectors and 3D leverage, both org toppers remained optimistic about this year’s box office, which is off to a sluggish start, running 25% behind last year’s tally at this time.

To keep 2011 from seeing the first decline in domestic B.O. since 2005, those 33 titles slated for 3D release will have to deliver in a year packed with franchise sequels and tentpoles.

“I think the most historic thing of 2010, which predicts what will be the headlines in the coming years, is the growth of digital cinema and 3D,” Fithian said.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Rugrats. Nickeoldeon Animation Studios

    Film News Roundup: 'Rugrats' Writer David N. Weiss Honored by Animation Writers

    In today’s film news roundup, David N. Weiss is honored, Rin Tin Tin is getting a modern movie and “The Shasta Triangle” finds a home. WEISS HONORED David N. Weiss will receive the animation writing award from the Animation Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America West. The award will be presented by Weiss’ [...]

  • Marrakech Chief on Selecting Arthouse Films

    Marrakech Chief on Selecting Arthouse Films With a Big Stress on the Word 'Art'

    The 18th edition of the Marrakech Film Festival (Nov. 29-Dec. 7) – one of the leading cultural events in the Africa and Middle East region – will screen 98 films from 34 countries. The fest is also reinforcing its industry presence this year through the second edition of the Atlas Workshops, sponsored by Netflix, which [...]

  • Emma Stone Brad Pitt Damien Chazelle

    Paramount Lands Damien Chazelle's 'Babylon,' Dates It for Christmas 2021

    Paramount Pictures has landed the worldwide rights to Damien Chazelle’s next feature film “Babylon,” sources tell Variety. Insiders add the studio has dated the film for a Dec. 25, 2021 limited release, with plans to go wide on Jan. 7. The release date puts in prime position for another awards season run for Chazelle, who [...]

  • Chris Pratt

    Chris Pratt's Sci-Fi Film 'The Tomorrow War' Gets Release Date

    Chris Pratt’s upcoming sci-fi actioner, which was recently retitled “The Tomorrow War,” has set a Christmas Day 2020 release date. The Paramount film was formerly titled “Ghost Draft.” It follows a man (played by Pratt) who is drafted to fight a future war in which the fate of humanity may rely on his ability to [...]

  • Kim Dong-Ho of GIFF Chairman of

    Inaugural Gangneung Film Festival Pays Tribute to Pierre Rissient

    The opening ceremony of the first edition of the Gangneung International Film Festival was dominated by a tribute to the French film scout and festival selector Pierre Rissient, who died in May 2018. The new festival, 240 km from Seoul, counts former Busan festival co-founder Kim Dong-ho as its chairman and former Bucheon festival head [...]

  • 'Waves': Sterling K. Brown and Trey

    'Waves' Cast Reflects on the Making of the Tragic Family Drama

    “Waves,” a partially autobiographical film written and directed by Trey Edward Shults, is a visually arresting look at the fraying of an upper-middle class black family in South Florida in the aftermath of a violent tragedy. It examines themes of grief, domestic violence, substance abuse and modern-day pressures on kids to succeed. “Propelled by color, [...]

  • Gaston Pavlovich

    Gaston Pavlovich Talks About Producing 'The Irishman'

    Through his production company Fabrica De Cine, Gastón Pavlovich is one of the producers on Martin Scorsese’s two most recent movies: 2016’s “Silence” and 2019’s “The Irishman.” The 51-year-old native of Mexico first gained notice as an executive producer on the Tom Hanks comedy-drama “A Hologram for the King.” Pavlovich also began working with Scorsese [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content