The cost of ducats was again on the rise in fourth quarter of 2012, up 3% to $8.05 per ticket, or an average of $7.96 for the year, according to the National Assn. of Theater Owners. With the final quarter average price in, yearly admissions are estimated to be up 6% over 2011 at roughly 1.355 billion.

The 2012 average ticket price rose only slightly over 2011, when filmgoers paid an average $7.93 per ticket. Average ticket prices had dipped 4% in the third-quarter of 2012.

Even with the highest-ever average domestic ticket price in 2012 (not adjusted for inflation), admissions still saw the largest year-over-year increase since 2008, when ticket sales also rose nearly 6% over the previous year.

Official 2012 admission totals won’t be available until next month, when the Motion Picture Assn. of America announces its annual theatrical report.

Adult-skewing fare including “Argo,” “Lincoln” and the fourth quarter’s highest-grossing domestic release, “Skyfall,” kept ticket prices steady; there were relatively fewer family hits, which drive down prices. Paramount-DreamWorks Animation’s Nov. 21 opener “Rise of the Guardians” was one of the lowest-grossing DWA films with just over $100 million domestically.

Meanwhile, premium-priced 3D titles “Life of Pi” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” released in six different formats, contributed to the slight rise in ticket prices. By the numbers
average 2012 ticket price
2012 admissions increase*
*Estimated – Source: NATO