Movie Ticket Sales Up 10% This Year

Movie tickets worth approximately $3.89 billion were sold in the United States during the first six months of 2001. That number is a 10% increase over the same period in the previous year, according to a report from Exhibitor Relations Company, which tracks business trends for the theater industry.

The increase is due to a 6% rise in movie attendance combined with a price increase of about 3.7%. Nationally, movie tickets average $5.60, but are considerably higher in major markets like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where single admissions can be as much as $9.00. Big hits like Cast Away and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon early in the year helped boost business for theater owners, who have been suffering due to an oversupply of theaters nationwide. Spy Kids and Hannibal were hits in mid-spring.

Summer is typically a busy season for theaters, which enjoy plenty of business from students on break from school and seeking escape from hot weather. Animated feature Shrek from DreamWorks SKG has done very well so far this year, with more than $228 million in ticket sales. So has Universal's The Mummy Returns, with almost $200 million. Now several weeks in release, Walt Disney Company's Pearl Harbor has taken in approximately $180 million. Paramount's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider got off to a good start but lost momentum quickly after the target audience of adolescent girls had seen it once. One of the most anticipated—and likely, successful—debuts this year will be Warner's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, due to arrive at theaters around Thanksgiving.

Here are Exhibitor Relations' top ten box-office performers released in 2001, with total ticket sales (in millions) as of July 1:

1. Shrek (DreamWorks) $228.1m; 2. The Mummy Returns (Universal) $198.1m; 3. Pearl Harbor (Disney) $179.7m; 4. Hannibal (MGM) $164.9m; 5. Spy Kids (Miramax) $106.3m; 6. Lara Croft:Tomb Raider (Paramount) $101.6m; 7. Save the Last Dance (Paramount) $91.0m; 8. The Fast and the Furious (Universal) $77.9m; 9. Along Came a Spider (Paramount) $73.1m; 10. Bridget Jones's Diary (Miramax) $70.4m.