Moviegoers shelled out $8.12 on average to see films such as “American Sniper” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” during the first three months of 2015.
That represented a 2% increase from the year-ago period, when going to the movies cost an average of $7.96, according to statistics released Monday by the National Association of Theatre Owners, the exhibition industry’s main lobbying arm. It is also a record number for the first quarter.
Hitting the multiplexes remains less expensive than it was during the final financial quarter of 2014, when 3D releases such as “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” and Imax hits like “Interstellar” drove prices up to $8.30. Those premium formats carry surcharges, but the first three months of the year tend to host fewer big-budget releases that convince patrons to don tinted spectacles or shell out extra to see a movie unfold on the widest screen possible.
It’s also less than the full-year average from 2014 or $8.17.
From a box office perspective, the initial three months of 2015 ended up better than many analysts had predicted. Hits like “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Cinderella” and “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” lifted the first quarter theatrical revenues up 3% over the first quarter of 2014.
Sales for the period ending in March closed at $2.47 billion compared to $2.4 billion a year ago. Going into the year, many industry observers thought that the first quarter would have difficulty matching the sales of the year-earlier period, which fielded hits including “The Lego Movie” and “Ride Along.”