Rise in tick­ets sold in 2012 good for Hol­ly­wood

The num­ber of folks in the­aters rose this year for the first time since 2009.

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - By David Ger­main

Los An­ge­Les — The big deal for Hol­ly­wood is not the record $10.8 bil­lion that stu­dios took in do­mes­ti­cally in 2012. It’s the fact that the num­ber of tick­ets sold went up for the first time in three years.

Thanks to in­fla­tion, rev­enue gen­er­ally rises in Hol­ly­wood as ad­mis­sion prices climb each year. The real story is told in tick­ets, whose sales have been on a gen­eral de­cline for a decade, bot­tom­ing out in 2011 at 1.29 bil­lion, their low­est level since 1995.

The in­dus­try re­bounded this year, with ticket sales pro­jected to rise 5.6 per­cent to 1.36 bil­lion by Dec. 31, ac­cord­ing to box-of­fice tracker Hol­ly­wood.com.

That’s still well be­low the mod­ern peak of 1.6 bil­lion tick­ets sold in 2002, but in an age of cozy home the­ater set­ups and end­less en­ter­tain­ment gad­gets, stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives con­sider it a tri­umph that they were able to put more butts in cin­ema seats this year than last.

“It is a vic­tory, ul­ti­mately,” said Don Har­ris, head of distri­bu­tion at Para­mount Pic­tures.

“If we de­liver the prod­uct as an in­dus­try that peo­ple want, they will want to get out there.

“Even though you can sit at home and watch some­thing on your large screen in high-def, peo­ple want to get out.”

Domestic rev­enue should fin­ish up nearly 6 per­cent from 2011’s $10.2 bil­lion and top Hol­ly­wood’s pre­vi­ous high of $10.6 bil­lion set in 2009.

The year was led by a pair of su­per­hero sagas, Dis­ney’s “The Avengers” with $623 mil­lion domes- tically and $1.5 bil­lion world­wide and the Warner Bros. Bat­man fi­nale “The Dark Knight Rises” with $448 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally and $1.1 bil­lion world­wide.

Sony’s James Bond ad­ven­ture “Sky­fall” is clos­ing in on the $1 bil­lion mark glob­ally, and the list of ac­tion and fam­ily-film block­busters in­cludes “The Hunger Games,” “The Twi­light Saga: Break­ing Dawn — Part Two,” “Ice Age: Con­ti­nen­tal Drift,” “Mada­gas­car 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” “The Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man” and “Brave.”

Even real-life vi­o­lence at the movie the­ater didn’t turn au­di­ences away.

Some movie­go­ers thought twice about head­ing to the cin­ema af­ter a gun­man killed 12 peo­ple and in­jured 58 at a screen­ing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado last sum­mer, but if there was any lull in at­ten­dance, it was slight and tem­po­rary. Ticket sales went on a tear for most of the fall.

While domestic rev­enues inch up­ward most years largely be­cause of in­fla­tion, the real growth ar­eas have been overseas, where more and more fans are ea­ger for the next Hol­ly­wood block­buster.

Ren­trak, which com­piles in­ter­na­tional box of­fice data, ex­pects 2012’s for­eign gross to be about $23 bil­lion, 3 per­cent higher than in 2011.

No data was yet avail­able on the num­ber of tick­ets sold overseas this past year.

In­ter­na­tional busi­ness gen­er­ally used to ac­count for less than half of a stu­dio film’s over­all re­ceipts.

Films now of­ten do two or even three times as much busi­ness overseas as they do do­mes­ti­cally. Some movies that were duds with U.S. au­di­ences, such as “Bat­tle­ship” and “John Carter,” can wind up be­ing $200 mil­lion hits with overseas crowds.

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