MPAA Report: World Box Office Topped Record $40 Billion In 2017, But Domestic Dipped 2%

MPAA Wonder Woman Star Wars The Last Jedi
MPAA/Warner Bros/Disney

The global box office for all films produced in every country reached a record high of $40.6 billion in 2017, up 5% from 2016, according to the MPAA’s latest theatrical market statistics report. International box office for all films, foreign and domestic, increased 7% to $29.5 billion, but the domestic box office in the U.S. and Canada slumped 2% to $11.1 billion, down $300 million – or one solid blockbuster – from the year before. Even so, that matched 2015’s domestic box office, which set a record that was only broken last year.

“The theatrical experience is a vital experience between audiences and creators,” MPAA chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin said in a statement. “But beyond the box office, audiences are not limited in how they can enjoy their favorite movies. In fact, films today not only have a second screen, but a third and fourth.”

Indeed, worldwide spending on all content released digitally and on disc topped movie ticket sales by more than $7 billion last year, surging 11% to $47.8 billion. U.S. digital home entertainment spending – which at $13.7 billion was $2.6 billion more than movie ticket sales – increased 20%, while international digital home entertainment spending increased 41%. Since 2013, digital spending has exploded by a whopping 161% globally, despite a staggering 47% decline in spending on physical products such as DVDs – a reflection of the ongoing sea change in digital viewing habits.

“Online video content viewing continued to increase in 2017,” Rivkin noted, “reaching 167.5 billion views and transactions – a 41% increase compared to 2016.” He also noted that “Americans now spend 49% of their media time on a digital platform.”

All of these revenue streams, however, are dwarfed by cable, which generated $108 billion last year – more than movie ticket sales and home entertainment consumer spending combined – and up $1.1 billion from the year before.

Movie admissions in the U.S. and Canada, however, hit a 10-year low last year, falling 6% to 1.24 billion tickets sold. The average ticket cost 32 cents more last year – an increase of 4%, or twice the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

NATO president John Fithian, who joined Rivkin in a conference call today, said that the domestic box office is “very stable” and noted that despite the explosive growth in home entertainment, “theatrical remains the engine that drives the train.”

Read the full report here.

Foreign moviegoers accounted for nearly three-quarters (73%) of the worldwide box office for all films last year, up from 71% the year before. And while the U.S. and Canada remain the largest market for films, China isn’t far behind, ringing up $7.9 billion in ticket sales. That’s nearly four-times more than Japan, the next largest market at $2 billion, and more than the next five markets – the UK, India, South Korea, France and Germany – combined.

The Asia/Pacific region remains the world’s top largest box office, accounting for $16 billion in ticket sales – an increase of 6% from 2016. China, the primary driver of this growth, saw a 21% increase. Europe, the Middle East and Africa – which the MPAA lumps together as EMEA – saw a 4% growth at the box office; Russia, which saw a 22% increase, and Germany, with a 7% increase, were the main drivers there. Ticket sales in Russia hit $1 billion last year, just behind Germany’s $1.2 billion. Latin America pulled in $3.4 billion, and its 22% growth was the largest of any region in the world, driven by a 15% surge in Brazil and a 7% increase in Mexico.

The number of cinema screens, meanwhile, increased 8% globally last year, reaching just over 170,000 screens, due in large part to double-digit growth in the number of screens in the Asia/Pacific region. And by the end of last year, nearly all the world’s cinema screens (98%) were digital – up from 97% the year before. According to the MPAA report, there were 43,216 screens in the U.S. and Canada at the end of last year – and more than 126,000 elsewhere around the globe.

Demographically, the report found that U.S. moviegoers were equally split between women and men. Caucasians, who make up 61% of the U.S. population, bought 55% of the tickets, but Latinos go to the movies in far greater numbers than their percentage of the population (18% in the U.S.). According to the MPAA, Latinos are “overrepresented in share of movie tickets purchased,” buying 23% of the tickets sold here last year – or nearly double the percentage bought by African-Americans (12%). Asian Americans bought 7% of the tickets, and “other” bought 3%.

“The Hispanic/Latina category reported the highest annual attendance per capita in 2017,” the MPAA reported, “going to the movies an average of 4.5 times in the year, followed by the Asian category at 4.3 times in the year.”

Of the 263 million North Americans who bought tickets last year, 12% were identified as “frequent moviegoers” who went to the movies at least once a month – a group that’s responsible for nearly half (49%) of all tickets sold. More than half the population (53%) were identified as “occasional moviegoers,” who were responsible for 49% of all tickets sold. The MPAA also found that nearly one-in-four (24%) of the U.S./Canada population did not go to the movies even once last year.

Younger people are also more likely to go to the movies than Americans over 40. “In 2017, the 25-39 age group was over-represented in terms of tickets sold, accounting for 21% of the population and 26% of tickets sold,” the report found. “To a lesser extent, the 12-17 and 18-24 age groups are also over-represented for tickets sold (11% and 12%) relative to their share of the population (8% and 9%).”

Of the nation’s 43 million “frequent moviegoers,” the 25-39 year age group was the largest (11.1 million), but those in the 40-49 year demo came in second at 6.5 million. The report found that the 12-17, 18-24, 25-39, and 40-49 year age groups were over-represented among frequent moviegoers relative to their proportion of the overall population.

Last year, the Classification and Ratings Administration rated 563 films (including non-theatrical films), which was down 7% from 2016 and down 37% from 10 years ago. The total number of films released in theaters and the U.S. and Canada, however, increased by 8% to 777 last year, which was up 22% from 10 years ago.

PG-13 rated films accounted for 15 of the 25 top-grossing films released domestically last year – more than any other rating – and four of the top five. Seven of the top 10 films, and 18 of the top 25, were released in 3D. Last year, the top 25 films accounted for 54% of domestic box office, with the top five films accounting for 19%. Only one of the top 25 films was rated G, while three were rated R and six were rated PG.

The 25 top-grossing films in the U.S. and Canada were all released by the major studios. Disney had the two highest-grossing films, four of the top seven, and eight of the top 25. Warner Bros. had six of the top 25; Universal and 20th Century Fox each had four; Sony had two, and Paramount squeaked in with one, finishing 24th.

Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman, which were the second and third top-grossing films last year, attracted majority female audiences at 64% and 52%, respectively. The other three of the five top-grossing films attracted majority male audiences led by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which earned 60% of its box office from men.

Spider Man Homecoming

The report found that among the top grossing films, Spider-Man: Homecoming drew the most ethnically diverse audience, followed by Wonder Woman. The Accountant was the top DVD and Blue-ray rental in the U.S. last year, followed by Moana, which was the top seller.

Despite declining ticket sales, the MPAA noted that more than twice as many North Americans went to the movies last year than went to theme parks and professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey games combined. The MPAA also found that more than three-quarters of domestic moviegoers ages 2 or older went to the movies at least once last year, and that the typical moviegoer bought 4.7 tickets in 2017.

The report found that of the nearly 40,400 screens in the U.S., nearly 90% are located at venues with five or more screens. The number of digital screens in the U.S. increased by just over 1% from the year before, and now account for 99% of all U.S. screens. The number of digital 3D screens also increased 1%, while 374 new digital, non-3D screens were added, up 2% and now accounting for 61% of all U.S. screens.

Digital 3D screens increased 14% worldwide to nearly 100,000 in 2017, and now account for 59% of all digital screens globally. All regions saw growth in the number of digital 3D screens in 2017, although at a slower pace than prior years. Asia/Pacific continues to have the highest ratio of 3D digital screens to digital screens (81%), compared to only 39% of the digital screens in the U.S. and Canada.

The report also found that Americans continue to spend more time watching TV (3 hours and 58 minutes) than any other single form of media, despite decreasing by 12% (32 minutes) compared to 2013. Between 2013 and 2017, the amount of time spent on non-voice mobile devices increased by 49%, from 2 hours and 12 minutes to 3 hours and 17 minutes a day.

The number of subscriptions to online video services in the U.S. increased to 157 million last year, up 21% from 2016, while subscriptions to every other type of pay TV service decreased. Online subscription video revenue increased to $17.7 billion – an increase of 57% from the prior year and passing IPTV revenue of $12.5 billion.

“With more stories and more storytelling mediums than ever, our industry continues to adapt to an ever-changing world,” Rivkin said. “At the MPAA, we work every day to advance storytelling and support a global creative market that is expansive, diverse, and responsive to those changes. Based on the latest data, we see a bright future filled with our stories and our passions ahead.”

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