Box Office: Five Worrisome Moviegoing Trends in 2014

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The Motion Picture Association of America released its annual report Wednesday assessing moviegoing habits.

The worldwide box office saw only modest gains in 2014 as revenue tumbled in North America.

Global revenue reached $36.4 billion, a slim uptick of 1 percent over 2013 ($35.9 billion), according to the Motion Picture Association of America's annual report. For much of the past decade, global revenue has seen sizeable year-over-year gains, including 6.4 percent in 2012.

Without Asia — and particularly China — 2014 revenue would have certainly been down year-over-year. The Chinese box office grew by 34 percent to $4.8 billion, marking the first time that box office revenue has crossed $4 billion in any foreign market outside of North America.

In the U.S. and Canada, revenue fell a steep 5 percent to $10.4 billion (revenue also fell by 3 percent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Overseas, total international revenue came in at $26 billion, compared to $25 billion in 2013.

Here's five worrisome takeaways from the MPAA report:

1. The 32 percent problem

Admissions hit a 19-year low in North America, with 1.27 billion tickets sold. Part of the problem: 32 percent of the population in the U.S. and Canada didn't go to the movies at all. The same has been true for several years, but it's clear Hollywood needs to cull a new audience. According to the MPAA, there was actually a jump in the number of frequent moviegoers buying tickets (fueled largely by older consumers), so that means fewer "occasional" and "infrequent" moviegoers went to the cinema in 2014.

2. Where were the tots?

Frequent moviegoers, defined as someone who goes to the cinema at least once a month or more, are Hollywood's most prized demo. This group makes up only 11 percent of the population but buy 51 percent of all tickets sold. In 2014, there was a steep fall off in the 2-11 age group, with only 2.7 million young children going to the movies, compared to 4.3 million the year before.

3. The Trouble with Generations X, Y and Z

There was also a precipitous drop off in the number of frequent moviegoers between the ages of 25 to 39 (including parents of the missing tots). Those in this category made 7.1 million trips to the cinema, compared to 8.2 million in 2013 and 9.9 million in 2012. It matters because, overall, this age group watches more movies than any other. There was also a continued fall off in the number of frequent moviegoers in the 18-24 age group. This demo went to the movies 7 million times, the lowest level in at least five years. Conversely, frequent moviegoers in the 40-49 age group soared, from 3.2 million to 5.7 million, while frequent moviegoers 60 and older hit an all time high, making 5.3 million trips.

4. 3D Burnout

In 2010, 52 percent of moviegoers in North America saw a 3D title. Last year, that number fell by almost half to 27 percent, even though there were more 3D titles more than ever (47). In 2013, 31 percent of those going to the cinema saw a 3D title.

5. The gender balance

Since 2010, females have consistently made up a larger share of moviegoers, while the number of males has remained flat.

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