As the scourge of piracy continues to blight the land, the MPAA reports that 2013 was another record-breaking year at the box office.
You might think, given the punishing losses inflicted upon the motion picture industry by pirates around the world, that the Motion Picture Association of America's 2013 Theatrical Market Statistics report would be full of doom and gloom. You would, of course, be wrong.
The MPAA reported that the global box office take for movies in 2013 hit $35.9 billion, a four percent increase over 2012, which was itself a record-breaking year, growing six percent over 2011 with a $34.7 billion take. Both the North American and international markets increased over the year, but it was China that really propelled the growth, leaping forward by 27 percent over 2012 to $3.6 billion, making it the first international market to break $3 billion.
Approximately 68 percent of the North American population attended a movie at least once in 2013, a figure "consistent with prior years," and while ticket sales to the 25-39 age group has been declining since 2010, sales to the 2-11 age group is at its highest since 2009 and the share sold to moviegoers aged 50-59 is at an all-time high. The average ticket price has also continued to climb, from $6.21 in 2004 to $8.13 in 2013, although movie tickets are still a small fraction of the cost of admission to sporting events or theme parks.
The MPAA managed the big numbers despite the plague of piracy, which it says continues to be a big problem for the industry. "There has never been more ways to legally access films, television series, music, books, games, and so many other kinds of entertainment and creative content," it said in a recent report. "However, the Internet has also given rise to massive amounts of copyright infringement that undermines the online digital experience of audiences everywhere and hurts those who work hard to create the content we all love."
Ironically, China, which MPAA CEO Christopher Dodd lauded at a recent press conference for its "meteoric rise" in box office sales, restricts the number of foreign-made films that can be released in the country to just 34, and is also a notorious hotbed of piracy.