The release Friday of Hunger Games bodes well for domestic box office. The Twilight-like fervor for the hotly-anticipated screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ phenomenal best seller has already translated to over $1 million in advance ticket sales. The stock price for Lionsgate, which is releasing the film, has surged 26.9 percent over the last month, the blog Deadline Hollywood reports.
The release of this expected blockbuster comes two weeks after the disastrous opening of Disney’s John Carter, which is poised to become one of the biggest bombs of all time. Still, domestic office is already up nearly 15 percent so date in 2012.
That’s encouraging news following a year in which overseas box office was up 7 percent, but domestic box office was down 4 percent from the previous year, according to statistics released Thursday by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) . Worldwide, box office reached $32.6 billion in 2011, up 3 percent from 2010.
China became the second-largest international market behind Japan, experiencing 35 percent growth last year. U.S. Canada box office was $10.2 billion, compared to $10.6 billion in 2010. Among the reasons cited by the MPAA for this decline was the lack of a film to match Avatar’s record-breaking 3D box office performance in 2010.
3D or not 3D, that is the question. The number of 3D films increased in 2011, but the box office for these films was down $400 million in 2011.
Sixty-seven percent of the U.S. /Canada population—or 221.1 million people—went to the movies at least once in 2011, the statistic show. They had more movies to see. Hollywood released 610 movies in 2011, up from 569 in 2010.
Ticket sales continue to be driven by frequent moviegoers (those who go to the movies once a month or more), who represent only 10 percent of the population, but purchased half of all movie tickets. In 2011, more 25-39 year-olds, particularly males, were in the frequent moviegoer category.
Who is buying those tickets? The MPAA finds thatper capita, Latinos go to the movies more frequently than anyone else, followed by African-Americans and Caucasians.
And while ticket prices did increase in 2011, movies are still your cheapest entertainment compared to sporting events and theme parks. A family of four might pay an average of $309 to attend an NFL game, but a night at the movies might set them back only $32 (that must be without concessions).
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.