Rising box office receipts threatened by online piracy

Findings from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) show that global box office receipts for all films released around the world reached $32.6 billion, an increase of 3 per cent over 2010, stemming from ongoing growth of box office in international markets. Each international region experienced box office growth in 2011. Chinese box office grew by 35 per cent in 2011 alone, by far the largest growth in major markets. The figures are contained in the MPAA’s annual Theatrical Market Statistics Report for 2011.

“These numbers underscore the impact of movies on the global economy and the vitality of the film-watching experience around the world,” said Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. “The bottom line is clear: people in all countries still go to the movies and a trip to the local cinema remains one of the most affordable entertainment options for consumers.” He suggested the figures on box office reflected only one indicator of an extremely complex, and evolving movie industry. “We’re working harder and smarter to keep moviegoers coming back for more, whether at the cinema, at home or on the go.”

The US/Canada box office market finished at $10.2 billion, down 4 per cent compared to 2010, but up 6 per cent from five years ago. 3D box office was down $400 million in 2011 in comparison to 2010, which the MPAA suggests is not surprising given that 2010 included Avatar’s record-breaking 3D box office performance. 2D box office remained consistent from 2010 to 2011.

Cinema ticket sales continue to be fuelled by repeated visits by frequent moviegoers – those who go to the movies once a month or more. Frequent moviegoers represent only 10 per cent of the population but purchased half of all tickets sold in 2011. Globally, cinema screens increased by 3 per cent in 2011.

Digital cinema continues its rapid growth so that just over half of the world’s screens are now digital. The number of digital screens in the US nearly doubled in 2011, now comprising 65 per cent of all US screens. “Global box office continues to grow nicely as new markets develop,” said John Fithian, President of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). “In mature markets such as the United States the business can be more cyclical in the short term, driven by product supply and distribution patterns. In the long term, however, domestic receipts continue to grow. Though 2011, US box office was down four per cent, 2012 looks to be another growth year. Box office is up nearly 14 per cent year-to-date so far in 2012, with a strong slate of summer movies coming.”

Dodd noted that innovation and technology continued to be a driving force for the movie industry. “People are driven to fill theatre seats by the promise of great films and a great, technologically enhanced movie going experience. But online content theft continues to threaten the economic success of our industry – an industry that employs millions of Americans and brings money into the US economy from around the world. We should protect that success, not undermine it by stealing products and cutting the revenue it puts into the US economy,” he declared.

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