The summer box office in the U.S. and Canada was a record, drawing $4.4 billion in ticket sales, with admissions up 1 percent over the same period last year, the National Association of Theater Owners announced Wednesday.
The huge summer — which saw three movies gross more than $1 billion worldwide — has helped the motion picture business overcome the disasterous first three months of the year. According to NATO, the domestic market's year-to date-revenue is down only 4.3 percent from the same period in 2010, with a number of big tentpoles coming during the holidays, nearly erasing the 21 percent drop in 2011's first quarter.
Also, 2011 also marked the fifth consecutive summer in which box office revenues exceeded $4 billion, NATO said.
Summer is defined as running from the first full weekend in May through Labor Day of each year.
“In the midst of 9% unemployment and a continuing weak economy, it is striking that the movie theater industry can continue to grow revenues and admissions," NATO President and CEO John Fithian said in a statement.
With more 3D films in the market driving average ticket prices up 10 cents to about $7.97 cents an admission, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, the issue of actual moviegoer demand in the domestic market remains unclear, however.
According to the site, admissions remain down about 5.2 percent from the same period last year.