Chinese, super fans boost global movie ticket sales by 6 pct. to a record $34.7 billion

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Global movie ticket sales rose 6 per cent in 2012 to a record $34.7 billion thanks to the growing popularity of movies in Asia and higher attendance by diehard fans in the U.S. and Canada.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, China overtook Japan as the biggest market outside the U.S. and Canada combined, with sales there growing 36 per cent to $2.7 billion.

As a whole, the Asian box office grew 15 per cent to $10.4 billion, while in Europe, Middle East and Africa, ticket sales fell 1 per cent to $10.7 billion. Latin American revenue rose 6 per cent to $2.8 billion.

In the U.S. and Canada, sales rose 6 per cent to $10.8 billion, driven higher primarily by moviegoers who attend once a month or more.

Those super fans represent only 13 per cent of the population but bought 57 per cent of all movie tickets, an increase of 7 percentage points from a year ago. Super fans grew as a share of the population by 2 percentage points.

About two-thirds of people in the U.S. and Canada saw a movie at least once last year.

And even as the number of 3-D movie screens grew, enthusiasm for the format appeared to plateau. There were 9 per cent more 3-D screens in the U.S. and Canada, but revenue from 3-D showings was flat at $1.8 billion.

Globally, the number of 3-D screens rose 27 per cent to 45,500.

The lacklustre 3-D result was partly due to the six major studios that make up the MPAA releasing fewer movies in the format. Those studios — Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. — released 36 3-D movies in 2012, down from a peak of 45 in 2011.

Attendance for 3-D movies peaks among teenagers but declines rapidly as people get older, MPAA data showed.