LOS ANGELES — Some blockbuster new characters — Katniss Everdeen, Ted the foul-mouthed bear — joined some familiar ones (Batman, Bond, Baggins) to deliver a lift to moviegoing in North America in 2012, increasing attendance by 5.6 percent after two years of declines.
Projections show that about 1.36 billion people will see films this year, compared with 1.29 billion in 2011. Ticket revenue at North American theaters is projected to jump by 6 percent, to $10.8 billion, according to Paul Dergarabedian, a box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. What really matters, however, is that Hollywood achieved the increase without raising prices.
The anticipated lift in attendance, which factors in crowds for two big movies that are to open on Christmas Day, “Django Unchained" and “Les Miserables," would be the industry’s biggest yearly increase since 2002. Lately, studios and publicly traded theater chains like Regal Entertainment suffered drops in annual attendance, forcing them to prop up revenue by charging more for admission and concessions.
“I really believe that momentum from weekend to weekend is crucial — that was fun, let’s come back — and we had sustained periods of that this year," said Greg Foster, chairman of Imax Filmed Entertainment. Imax’s domestic ticket revenue will end the year up 50 percent, he said, the result of popular movies and an increasing reliance on Imax by studios as a way to differentiate releases.