CinemaCon 2015: Head of theater owner association predicts record box-office year

CinemaCon 2015: Head of theater owner association predicts record box-office year
Disney/Marvel shows Chris Evans, left, as Captain America/Steve Rogers, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in the new film, "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Disney/Marvel)

John Fithian, president of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, predicted that the motion-picture theater industry would grow to new heights in 2015, setting records at the box office.

"In fifteen years of standing on a Vegas stage, I have never before made this prediction – 2015 will be a record breaking year in both domestic and global box office receipts," Fithian to a crowd of theater owners at the fifth-annual CinemaCon trade show in Las Vegas.

Fithian said at least four movies will cross the $1 billion threshold in global ticket sales in 2015. "That has never happened before," Fithian said during a state-of-the-industry speech at Caesars Palace.

One movie, Universal's hit franchise "Furious 7," has already crossed that mark, he noted. Universal announced the movie had reached $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales after only 17 days. Most of the box-office revenue has occurred in international markets that increasingly drive ticket sales.

Other movies expected to drive up big ticket sales this year include franchises such as "Avengers," Jurassic Park," "Minions" and "Star Wars."

Some analysts predict that ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada will climb 8% to $11.2 billion this year, a new high-water mark for domestic box-office revenue.

Beyond big action franchises, Fithian said the industry has benefited from a better spacing of movies and broader mix of films that include family titles such as Disney/Pixar's "Inside Out" and several female-led comedies, including Fox's "Spy," starring Melissa McCarthy.

"I'm so pleased that my daughter can see more women in leading roles than ever before," he said.