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Domestic box office reached a record high for 2018, according to report

Domestic box office reached a record high for 2018, according to report
A scene from the 2018 movie "Avengers: Infinity War." (Marvel Studios / TNS)

The domestic box office reached a record high in 2018, with $11.9 billion in tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada, up 7% from the previous year. But overseas, box-office receipts were less stellar, declining 1% to $29.2 billion, according to a new report.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America said Thursday in its newly released annual survey that worldwide box-office ticket sales rose slightly by 1% to $41.1 billion for 2018.

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Hollywood pumped out a string of box-office blockbusters in 2018, including Walt Disney’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther,” that drew moviegoers to cinemas. Those releases helped the industry to improve over last year’s anemic results, which saw an approximately 2.5% decline in the domestic box office.

Admissions, or the number of tickets sold, rose 5% to 1.3 billion in 2018 but are still down from the highs seen a decade ago. Domestic admissions stood at 1.42 billion in 2009.

A total of 758 movie titles were released domestically in 2018, down slightly from 785 in the previous year.

The MPAA said three-quarters of the U.S. and Canada population, or 263 million people, went to the movies at least once in 2018. The gender composition of the cinema audience was 51% female and 49% male. The 25- to 39-year-old age group had the most frequent moviegoers, followed by the 40-49 age group

On average, the typical moviegoer in the U.S. and Canada bought five tickets in 2018, up from 4.7 tickets in 2017.

China, Japan and the U.K. continued to occupy the top three foreign box-office markets, with Chinese ticket sales reaching $9 billion for the year, up from $7.9 billion in 2017.

Nonetheless, the political climate in China has significantly cooled the frenzy of trans-Pacific entertainment deals and has made it more difficult for many U.S. distributors and producers doing business there.

The decline in overseas box-office receipts for 2018 was due in part to Latin America’s box office, which fell 22% in U.S. dollars, driven in part by currency fluctuations in Mexico and Argentina, according to the MPAA.

The Washington-based organization represents the major Hollywood studios, as well as Netflix, on trade and legal issues and is often referred to as Hollywood’s lobbying arm. The group also oversees the movie rating system.

In its annual report, the MPAA found that the digital home entertainment market continued to see robust growth, climbing 16% over 2017 levels to reach $55.7 billion. The market includes streaming services as well as digital sales and rentals.

Domestic spending on digital home entertainment rose 24% to $17.5 billion, while worldwide spending climbed a healthy 34% to $25.1 billion.

The top digitally downloaded movie for 2018 was “Avengers: Infinity War” while the top digital rental was “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

The MPAA said that the number of subscriptions to online streaming services around the world increased to 613.3 million in 2018, a 27% increase from the previous year, and passed the number of cable subscriptions, which stands at 556 million.

Americans now spend 52% of their media time on a digital platform, according to the report.

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“Our companies continue to deliver content where, when, and how audiences want it — and the numbers released today speak volumes,” said Charles Rivkin, the chairman and chief executive officer of the MPAA, in a statement.

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