The two R-rated films were important in lifting the average ticket outlay in Q1 to $8.12, up 2% vs the same period in 2014, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. Average ticket outlays are usually higher in a quarter when you see a lot of grown-ups paying full freight; kids films are popular in discounted matinees. American Sniper and Fifty Shades Of Grey also did well at Imax and other large-screen venues, which charge premium prices.
Remember that the $8.12 figure represents the average outlay by ticket buyers across all theaters, including budget ones. It costs a lot more to get into a hit film on a weekend night in New York or Los Angeles.
The Q1 number is down from the $8.30 average in Q4, which had more premium-priced large-format and 3D releases.
Wall Street is expecting strong financial results, including in ticket prices, when the major theater chains begin to report their Q1 earnings this week. The North American box office was up 3.1%, better than analysts expected.