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Box office reaches new record, but international sales flat

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/22/2017 By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The Motion Picture Association of America said Wednesday that the worldwide box office reached a record $38.6 billion in 2016, though international revenues were essentially stagnant.

The MPAA's annual report showed a global increase of .5 percent in ticket sales from 2015. While China, the world's second-largest market after the U.S., has long been a priority of Hollywood, it dropped 1 percent last year with $6.6 billion in ticket sales.

Box office in North America hit a record $11.4 billion, although the increase of $300 million was due largely to rising ticket prices. About 11 percent of North Americans, the MPAA said, are frequent moviegoers — those who go to the theater at least once a month. They make up 48 percent of all tickets sold.

About 71 percent of the U.S./Canadian population went to the movies at least once in 2016, up 2 percent from 2015.

Among the year's biggest box-office hits were "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," ''Finding Dory" and "Captain America: Civil War" — all of them, it's worth noting, released by the Walt Disney Co. The MPAA noted that three of the top five grossing films drew a majority female audience.

"Even with an incredible variety of viewing choices available to audiences, cinema remains the premier way to experience the magic of our movies," said MPAA chief Chris Dodd. "And the good news is, there are positive signs for growth in the future."

Other notable conclusions from the report include:

— Younger moviegoers increased. The biggest jump was for 18- to 24-year-olds, who went on average 6.5 times in 2016, up from 5.9 times in 2015.

— The appeal of 3-D continued to slide. Sales of 3-D movies fell about 8 percent to $1.6 billion, even though there were 30 percent more 3-D releases.

— African-American and Asian moviegoers continue to increase. Per capita, Asians/Other Ethnicities go more than any other group, seeing on average 6.1 movies a year.

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This story has been corrected to show the Chinese box office declined 1 percent, not 3 percent.

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