Los Angeles (AFP) – The global box office took a record $40.6 billion last year, industry figures showed on Wednesday, as the Chinese market resumed growth and receipts in North America declined slightly.
The worldwide figure, bolstered by globe-striding behemoths like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Wonder Woman,” marked a five percent rise on 2016, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
The figures will be seen as a relief to executives anxious over a decline in foreign revenues in 2016, the first in more than decade, with US studios increasingly relying on the burgeoning middle class in developing economies.
The Theatrical and Home Entertainment Market Environment report, or THEME, also included new information for 2017 on the home entertainment market, showing consumer spending up 11 percent at $47.8 billion.
The data shows that subscriptions to online video services around the world also jumped, up 33 percent to reach 446.8 million. Americans, the report concluded, now spend 49 percent of their media time on a digital platform.
“With more stories and more storytelling mediums than ever, our industry continues to adapt to an ever changing world,” said MPAA chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin.
“The global entertainment market is expanding on multiple fronts, constantly innovating to deliver an unparalleled experience to audiences worldwide.”
The global box office record was driven by a seven percent increase in international markets ($29.5 billion), in large part due to a resumption of growth in China, which had slowed in 2015.
Japan, Britain, India, and South Korea rounded out the top five international markets after China.
Cinema screens increased eight percent globally in 2017, reaching just over 170,000, led by continued double digit growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
The all-important North American box office — which boasted 262 million moviegoers, or a large majority of the 361 million joint US and Canada population — dropped slightly from its 2016 record of $11.4 billion, back down to the previous high of $11.1 billion.
The good news for studios looking to the future is that audiences between the ages of 12 and 17 attended an average of 4.9 movies — more than any other age group, and closely followed by 18 to 24-year-olds.
Giving the lie once again to the myth that diversity doesn’t sell, per capita attendance was highest among Latino and Asian audiences.
“With the global box office continuing to grow and movies drawing younger, more diverse audiences, we see a bright future for theatrical entertainment,” John Fithian, President and CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), said in a statement.