CinemaCon 2014: Global box office hits record $35 billion in 2013

‘Despicable Me 2'
The popularity of family movies such as Universal’s animated hit “Despicable Me 2" has helped drive global movie ticket sales to a record level.
(Illumination Entertainment / Universal Pictures)

Propelled by a string of hit family movies, global movie ticket sales set a new record last year, climbing to $35.9 billion in box office revenue, according to a new report.

International markets accounted for $25 billion in ticket sales last year, up 5% from 2012 and 33% from just five years ago.

Hollywood’s growing success overseas was one of the principal findings in the annual state-of-industry report released Tuesday at the annual CinemaCon trade show in Las Vegas, which drew 900 delegates from 69 countries.

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“It was an incredible, fantastic 2013,” Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, told hundreds of studio executives and theater owners gathered in an auditorium at Caesars Palace.

Underscoring the global theme of this year’s event, CinemaCon’s organizers chose to highlight movies that had the highest international ticket sales last year, such as “Gravity,” “Iron Man 3” and the animated hit “Frozen.”  That was a departure from previous CinemaCon events that highlighted only movies that had the highest domestic grosses.

During his keynote address, Dodd pointed to the rapid growth in China, which has been rapidly building its own theater industry and last year became the first international market to exceed $3 billion in ticket sales. 

With China adding an average of 13 new theater screens a day, that growth is expected to continue,  said Dodd. The former U.S. senator, making his fourth appearance at the event, also described rising theater business in emerging markets such as Cambodia and Pakistan.


“There’s a very clear, growing global demand and a growing global audience for our content,” Dodd said in his address. “That’s new markets, obviously for our films, and new audiences for all of us.”

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Last year’s movies not only did well overseas, but in the U.S. also drew high levels of Hispanic moviegoers -- they accounted for nearly on third of frequent moviegoers -- and younger audiences, according to the report prepared by the Motion Picture Assn., the trade group representing the major studios.

The share of tickets sold to kids younger than age 11 and to baby boomers between 50 and 59 years of age hit its highest point since the year 2009, reflecting the popularity of family movies such as Universal’s animated hit “Despicable Me 2” and the Academy Award winning blockbuster “Frozen.”

Overall, movie ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada climbed to $10.9 billion, virtually flat from a year ago.

Admissions fell 1% to 1.34 billion, continuing a long-term stagnation in domestic theatrical attendance, which was 1.5 billion in 2004.


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