Last year’s collection of big event movies, led by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, helped to lift movie theater ad sales last year by 13.4% to more than $716.4 million, the Cinema Advertising Council disclosed today at exhibition’s CinemaCon confab in Las Vegas.

This is the first time that the industry generated more than $700 million in sales, and the sixth consecutive year it beat $600 million.

The momentum has continued into 2016: Theaters had “a strong first quarter this year – both at the box office, which is outpacing last year by more than 12%, and in cinema ad sales,” CAC President Katy Loria says.

The trade group sees cinema becoming a “more essential part of media plans, with a seat at the table alongside other premium video media companies as upfront negotiations heat up.”

Sales people are eager to attract advertisers who might find themselves unable to buy as much TV time as they’d like as the market becomes flooded with political messages and Olympics-related promotions.

In addition to their annual sales pitches to advertisers, industry leaders National CineMedia and Screenvision will introduce data and technology initiatives offering buyers opportunities to connect with moviegoers outside the theater.

CAC says that national and regional ads accounted for $550.5 million, or 76.8%, of last year’s theatrical sales. That’s up 15.6% from 2014. Theaters were especially popular with buyers in auto, finance, consumer electronics, government and education, and media.

Exhibitors saw 215 new national or regional advertisers in 2015. By contrast, they had 121 new brands in 2014 and 93 in 2013.

The remaining 23.2% of ad sales went to local buyers. They spent about $166.0 million, up 6.6%.

Along with NCM and Screenvision, CAC members include Spotlight Cinema Networks, Cinema Scene Marketing, Marcus Theatres Corp, and On The Wall.