The data is in for 2012 cinema box office attendance. The number of tickets sold in North American was up 6% over 2011. However, when you look at long-term trends, per capita attendance that adjusts for population growth is down 20% since its peak in 2002.
There could be a number of factors why 2012 saw an increase. Could it be the quality of movies? 2012 saw three blockbusters grossing over $300 million – The Avengers $623M, The Dark Knight Rises $448M, The Hunger Games $408M and Skyfall $302M. 2011 only had two movies – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 $381M and Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Could it be that reduced ticket prices – an average price of $7.94 in 2012 compared to $8.12 in 2011 (inflation-adjusted) helped increase attendance? Could it be that an improving economy saw more people spending to attend the cinema? Could it be that cinemas that are increasing the quality of the moviegoing experience are attracting more people to attend. Perhaps it is a combination of a number of or all the above factors.
The big question is does this indicate a positive change to the long-term downward trend of per capita attendance? It will take several more years of attendance data to know.