Movie ticket prices in U.S. drop in the first quarter -- a little

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Moviegoers may balk at the cost of buying popcorn and soda at the multiplex, but they’re at least getting some relief when it comes to ticket prices this year.

Average movie ticket prices at U.S. theaters dropped to $7.94 in the first quarter, down from $8.05 in the fourth quarter of 2012 and up slightly from $7.92 in the first quarter of 2012, according to the latest data from the National Assn. of Theatre Owners.

Average ticket prices reached a record high of $8.12 in the second quarter of last year.

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The trade association’s ticket-price figures are unusually low by Los Angeles standards because they are based on data from across the country and include lower-priced matinee and children’s tickets.

Ticket prices rise and fall depending on the mix of movies. The dip in the first quarter may reflect fewer 3-D and large-format releases, reflecting a dearth of family-oriented movies at the beginning of the year.

The lack of diversity in the first quarter film slate sparked debate among exhibitors at the annual industry convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week.

Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the theater industry trade group, also speculated that “there may be more matinee-going, more older adults paying a senior discount,” and that movies may be “playing better in markets with lower prices.”

Ticket prices could rise this quarter with the release of big action movies such as the upcoming release “Iron Man 3,” which command higher ticket prices because they are shown in 3-D.


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