Hollywood rode a powerhouse summer lineup to post double-digit gains in box office and attendance, setting itself up to hit a new full-year record haul in 2018 as long as the holiday season delivers.
According to figures just out from the National Association of Theatre Owners, summer box office totaled $4.398 billion, up more than 14% over the previous year. Admissions hit nearly 483 million, up 12%. Each of the top five grossers in the third quarter qualifies as an upside surprise: Mission: Impossible – Fallout; Ant-Man and the Wasp; Crazy Rich Asians; Hotel Transylvania 3; and The Meg.
For the third quarter, which spans July, August and September (with the last of those months featuring It last year but no comparable mega-hit this year), the gains were a bit more modest. Box office in the quarter totaled $2.7 billion, up 6%, with admissions hitting 307 million, up 7%.
Year to date, the average ticket price has been $9.14, NATO said, and $9.11 during the summer.
Total box office for the year through October 14 was at $9.325 billion, up 9% over the off-year levels of 2017, while admissions topped 1 billion, up 6% from last year. Hollywoods high-water mark came in 2016, when it piled up almost $11.4 billion in grosses.
NATO pointed to some encouraging audience trends, noting that the third quarter was the second consecutive period when the share of box office accounted for by 18-to-24-year-olds increased year over year. That demo kicked in 26.4% of total grosses in the quarter, compared with a shade less than 26% in the year-earlier period.
Moviegoers younger than 10 years old and older than 55 also posted significant gains in the quarter. Under-10s, undoubtedly drawn to more family titles in the marketplace, accounted for 5.18% of the box office, up from a shade under 4% a year ago, while the 55-plus demo rose to 6.71% market share from 5.79%.