Movie Ticket Prices Slightly Higher in 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey McKellen Freeman Bilbo - H 2012
Warner Bros. Pictures

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey McKellen Freeman Bilbo - H 2012

UPDATED: The average cost of a ticket rose to an all-time high of $7.96 in the U.S., but that was just 3 cents more than a ticket cost in 2011.

The price of an average movie ticket sold in the U.S. hit another new all-time high in 2012, but the rise has slowed to a crawl compared to years prior.

Sources say that later this month when the final data is in it will show movie admissions rose 5.5% in 2012. That would be a turnaround from recent years. For instance from 2010 to 2011, admissions declined about 4 percent.  

Prices rose to $7.96 in 2012 from $7.93 in 2011, an increase of only 3 cents per ticket, according to data released Monday by the National Association of Theater Owners.

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That is slightly less than a four-tenths of one percent increase. The growth of ticket prices has slowed after rising 5 percent in 2007 and 5 percent in 2010. Last year, ticket prices rose only 1 percent from 2011.

Thanks to a number of hit movies late last year, especially some in 3-D like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the average ticket price for the fourth quarter of 2012 rose to $8.05. That is a 3.5 percent increase over the prior quarter and a 2.8 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2011.

The all-time high for the average cost of a movie ticket on a quarterly basis was $8.12 in the second quarter of 2012. None of these numbers are adjusted for inflation.

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The rise in ticket prices is largely tied to higher prices for 3-D, but this past year, 3-D movies were not as successful as they were in 2010, when the enhancement was a driving force in attendance.

3-D movies accounted for $2.2 billion in ticket sales in 2010, but that dropped to $1.8 billion in 2011.

The final numbers for box-office revenue, including 3-D movies, should be available later this month.