2013 Domestic Box Office Was Biggest Ever

Movie Tickets

For all the hand-wringing about the decline of the movie industry, 2013 was actually a pretty good year for movies. In fact, by one measure, it was actually the best year for movies. Ever. In cinema history.

The gross domestic box office take for last year was the highest ever, beating a record set just one year earlier. Hit the jump to see just how much money Hollywood made in 2013.

Variety reports that as of this past Sunday, the total gross tally for 2013 was $10.836 billion. By now, it’s likely that that figure has crossed the $11 billion mark — making 2013 the first year to do so. The previous record, set in 2012, was $10.837 billion.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that this doesn’t mean more people went to the movies than ever in 2013. The average cost of a movie ticket hit an all-time high this summer of $8.38 (though it fell back down to $7.34 in the third quarter of the year).

Indeed, The Numbers estimates that about 1.32 billion tickets were sold domestically in 2013. That’s not terrible, but it’s a small decrease from last year (1.36 billion). On the whole, their data shows that ticket sales have been sliding since 2002, when 1.58 billion tickets were sold in the U.S.

Of course, domestic box office is only part of the picture. Fortunately, the industry thrived overseas last year as well. According to Variety, estimates indicate that international gross totals were about 4-5% higher in 2013 than they were in 2012, thanks in a large part to the growing Chinese box office.

The strong 2013 numbers were driven, as you’d expect, by huge franchise films. Seven of the year’s ten highest-grossing films were sequels or prequels, and of the three that weren’t, one (Frozen) was loosely based on a fairy tale and another (Oz The Great and Powerful) was based on an existing property. Gravity, at #7, was the only truly original film of the bunch. Glancing at the calendar, 2014 and 2015 probably won’t be much different.

What may be on the wane, however, is 3D. Vulture points out that, with the notable exception of Gravity, 2013 was a pretty terrible year for 3D. While there were lots of 3D releases, 3D shares of major releases tended to underperform. It’s unlikely that 3D will ever completely disappear, but it seems it’s no longer the money-printer it once appeared to be.

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