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U.S. Movie Ticket Sales, Box Office Plunge in First Quarter

U.S. movie admissions slid 14.9% in the first quarter to 265.6 million and box office receipts plunged 16.3% to $2.39 billion on the heels of a record-setting year, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) reports.

The overall ticket price for the quarter slipped 15 cents to $9.01, compared to the same quarter in 2018. NATO’s Patrick Corcoran attributes the decline to films skewing toward family/animated titles such as “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” and “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”

North American box office grosses surged 6.9% in 2018 to $11.85 billion. The average 2018 ticket price increased 1.6% from $8.97 to $9.11.

The NATO report also showed that the biggest demographic jump in North American moviegoing during 2018 took place in the 18-to-24 and 25-to-34 groups, which accounted for more than half of total moviegoing revenues in the first quarter. The biggest drop took place with the 55-and-up group, with the share sliding to 5.2% from 6.6%.

Disney-Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” was by far the best performer during the quarter, grossing $354 million domestically to date, followed by “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” with $153 million. Part of the drop-off during the 2019 quarter was due to the blockbuster performance of “Black Panther” during the same period last year. “Black Panther” became the third-highest domestic grosser of all time with $700 million, trailing only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avatar.”

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