Average movie ticket price rose to $8.17 in 2014

National Association of Theatre Owners reports the average price of a movie ticket jumped to $8.17 in 2014

The average price of a movie ticket rose to $8.17 in 2014, the highest yearly average on record, according to The National Assn. of Theatre Owners.

The price was up less than half a percent from the $8.13 average in 2013, NATO reported on Tuesday. However, the fourth quarter of 2014 saw a jump in price to $8.30. The third quarter was also higher than usual, reflecting the box office success of surprise hit "Guardians of the Galaxy."

The average reflects a national average of theaters in big cities and small towns, and includes lower-priced matinees and children's prices.  For example, the cost of an adult movie ticket for an evening showing at AMC Century City is $14.49. By comparison, at AMC Oakview Plaza in Omaha, the cost of an adult movie ticket for an evening showing is $6.73.

The increase comes on the heels off a box office slump. After a shaky summer and a fickle fall, the box office reached an estimated $10.3 billion in 2014, down about 5.2% from 2013's record of $10.9 billion. 

The exhibition industry has struggled to lure in moviegoers with growing competition from home entertainment options such as Netflix, video-on-demand and video games. To counter  the stagnation in attendance, theaters have added premium services such as extra-large screens, improved sound systems and in-theater dining.

But many analysts and others in the industry predict that 2015 could be a record year at the box office with a robust film slate.

Some highly anticipated films include Universal Pictures' "Fifty Shades of Grey," an adaptation of the popular romance novel by E.L. James that will debut in February; Marvel's superhero film "Avengers: Age of Ultron," which comes out in May; and "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens," due out in December.

Already, Warner Bros.' "American Sniper" shattered box office records for January. The Oscar-nominated Clint Eastwood film has pulled in more than $108 million since its limited Christmas Day release.

Chris Aronson, head of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, told The Times before the new year that he is "looking forward to having the industry reverse the declining attendance curve and have attendance actually go up in the domestic market."

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