Ticket prices edge up in the first quarter compared to a year ago

Ticket prices edge up in the first quarter compared to a year ago
This image shows the character Bad Cop/Good Cop, voiced by Liam Neeson, in a scene from the Warner Bros. film "The Lego Movie." (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Average movie ticket prices dropped in the first quarter of this year from the end of 2013, but were still slightly higher than a year ago.

In the first quarter, the average ticket price for movie theaters in the U.S. was $7.96, down from $8.35 in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners.

Ticket prices, however, were still slightly higher than the same time a year ago, when the average price was $7.94, the trade group said.

Average ticket prices -- which include matinees and theaters across the country -- reached a record level last year, climbing to $8.13. But it's still too early to tell whether this year will see an overall drop.

The dip in ticket prices from the fourth quarter reflected the higher concentration of family titles in the beginning of the year, such as "The Lego Movie" and "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," which attracted more children and thus more lower-priced matinee tickets, said Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the theater owners trade group.

Last winter, studios also released more adult-oriented movies such as "American Hustle" and "Gravity," which sold a large volume of higher-priced 3-D tickets, Corcoran said.

"It's really a reflection of what kind of movies people are seeing," he said.