MPAA: Domestic boxoffice up 10% in '09

3D helped Hollywood post an almost 8% boost worldwide

Movies released in 3D accounted for 11% of domestic boxoffice in 2009, up from just 2% in 2008.

A total 20 films were released in 3D last year, compared with 8 the previous year. The extra-dimensional heft helped Hollywood post an almost 8% boost in annual boxoffice to a record $29.9 billion worldwide on a calendar-year basis, the MPAA said Wednesday.

The industry trade group -- which for the second year omitted average film production and marketing costs from its annual report -- said domestic boxoffice was up 10% to $10.6 billion, while foreign boxoffice climbed 6% to $19.3 billion.

The newly released stats are similar to year-end numbers crunched by others based on modestly different definitions of the boxoffice year.

"While the motion picture industry continues to face tremendous challenges elsewhere in our business, we're reminded again this year that the cinema is the heart and soul of our industry, and it is thriving," MPAA interim chief and president Bob Pisano said.

Ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada rose almost 6% from 2008 in the first admissions increase in two years, the MPAA said. Per capita ticket purchases in the U.S. and Canada increased 5% to 4.3 tickets per person.

"Four straight years of box office growth, the last three each setting a new record, show the enormous appetite audiences continue to have for great and entertaining movies in the best way to enjoy them -- on a big screen with a big crowd," said John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

NATO traditionally joins with the MPAA in releasing official year-end stats. The exhibition trade group said there were more than 16,000 digital cinema screens worldwide by year's end, or 86% more than a year earlier.

The number of digital 3D screens worldwide more than tripled in 2009, to 8,989, NATO said.

"Digital technology is the foundation on which 3D has been built," Pisano said. "Together, digital presentation and 3D hold the promise of a dramatic game change in movie making and movie going. The global film audience is voting with its feet, and those feet are planted firmly in the direction of local cinemas that have the latest technology."

The industry posted a 12% decline in the number of films produced in 2009, the MPAA said.

"The decline is attributable in significant part to labor issues affecting the industry in 2007-08, the recession and the challenges to investment recovery due to rampant content theft," the group said.

A decline in DVD sales also affected movie making, the MPAA added.