In the second quarter of 2013, average movie-theater ticket prices hit an all-time high of $8.38 per admission. Newly released numbers from the National Association Of Theater Owners (NATO) say that figure fell in the third quarter of 2013 to $7.84. (That figure reflects the average paid for each admission, not the average being charged by theaters.) That fall-off can be pinned to a decline in premium-priced 3-D ticket purchases, as well as cheaper children’s tickets bought for family-friendly releases, including Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University. As Variety’s Andrew Stewart notes, a third-quarter decline in the average price paid is normal every year after summer season ends.
After falling to a 16-year low in 2011, theater attendance is up for this year so far. While NATO president John Fithian is waiting on all numbers to be crunched, he recently speculated that the final results might indicate this summer’s audience numbers to be the best since summer 2007. Attendance levels often have less to do with overall trends than specific hits: as this recent article by film marketer Mark de Quervain notes, 2012 would have been an underperforming year if not for Skyfall doing far better than expected.
Fithian says this summer’s relatively diverse spread of offerings was responsible for higher returns. “We had a big picture range with a bunch of blockbusters and 17 films—as opposed to 12 during the summer of 2012—that crossed the $100 million mark,” he said. “There was a breadth of titles with action, comedy, family and more sophisticated fare like The Great Gatsby.”