March 10, 2010 / 10:05 PM / 9 years ago

Global movie box office nears $30 billion in 2009

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Global movie ticket sales hit $29.9 billion last year, up 7.6 percent, with the most growth in the Asia Pacific region, the leading U.S. movie industry representative said on Wednesday.

Ian Tapp (L), Richard Pryke (C) and Resul Pookutty pose with their Oscars for achievement in sound mixing for "Slumdog Millionaire" backstage at the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents Hollywood’s major studios on government and industry issues, also said the number of digital 3-D screens worldwide tripled in 2009 to 8,989, which accounts for about 6 percent of all screens.

The $29.9 billion in global box office compares to $27.8 billion the year before.

The Asia Pacific box office increased 12.3 percent, mostly in Japan and China, generating $7.7 billion in ticket sales.

“While the motion picture industry continues to face tremendous challenges elsewhere in our business, we’re reminded again this year that the cinema is the heart and soul of our industry and it is thriving,” Bob Pisano, president and interim chief executive of the MPAA said in a statement.

Twenty films were released in 3-D last year, accounting for 4 percent of all films released in the United States and Canada. But 3-D screenings of those films accounted for an outsized 11 percent of the total box office, the MPAA said.

Theater owners can charge more for a film in 3-D, often adding around $3.50 in some locations, which increases overall revenue.

The number of films released by U.S. companies has declined over the past three years, and in 2009 it dropped 12 percent to 558 from 633 the year before.

The MPAA said the decline was due to the economic downturn and the 14-week strike two years ago by Hollywood writers.

It often takes a year or more for a movie to go from script to theatrical release, so a strike can have a delayed effect on the industry.

As had been previously reported, the U.S. and Canada box office generated $10.6 billion in ticket sales. That accounted for 36 percent of the global box office, a figure that has stayed constant in recent years, the MPAA said. The group also said the number of worldwide movie screens has remained constant the past five years at just under 150,000.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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