CinemaCon: Worldwide box-office hit record $38.3 billion in 2015

Worldwide film market increased 5% in 2015 thanks to billion-dollar films including "Jurassic World."

Worldwide film market increased 5% in 2015 thanks to billion-dollar films including “Jurassic World.”

(Universal Pictures/Amblin Entert / AP)

The film industry enjoyed a record $38.3 billion in global ticket sales last year, driven by blockbuster movies and the growing international box office.

The worldwide film market increased 5% in 2015 thanks to billion-dollar films including “Jurassic World,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” according to a report released Tuesday by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

MPAA head Christopher Dodd said the numbers are a sign of continuing strength for the movie business, which is increasingly generating its revenue from overseas.

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In the U.S. and Canada, ticket sales increased 7.5%, to $11.1 billion. Internationally, the box office grew about 5%, to 27.2 billion. Overseas growth was largely driven by a more than 50% bump from China, as well as marked increases in countries including Britain and Argentina.

“The state of our industry is not only strong — it has never, ever been stronger,” he said in remarks at the CinemaCon film business conference in Las Vegas. “The numbers clearly show that the international marketplace, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of global box office today, is only continuing to grow in importance.”

Movies have done surprisingly robust business so far in 2016, as well, with ticket sales up nearly 13% in the first three months of the year because of successes like “Deadpool,” “Zootopia” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

John Fithian, chief executive of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, said global sales may have surpassed $40 billion in 2015 had it not been for currency devaluation in some countries.

Fithian partly credited the global growth to the spending habits — perhaps surprisingly — of teenagers. Americans aged 12 to 17 made up 16% of movie tickets last year, though they represent just 8% of the population.

Fithian tried to dispel the notion that today’s teens are content to spend all their time on their phones watching YouTube and playing video games. And when they go to the movies, he said, they’re more likely to shell out for pricier 3D and Imax screenings.

“Teenagers constitute not only our most frequent guests, but they’re also the biggest spenders,” Fithian said.

Citing movies like “Furious 7,” Fithian also credited films with diverse casts that appeal to a wider array of potential moviegoers. For example, U.S. Latinos accounted for 23% of ticket sales in 2015, despite making up just 17% of the population.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder