Streaming and other leisure-time enticements appeared to take a bite out of movie ticket sales in 2019, with total admissions declining nearly 5% to 1.244 billion, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.
Although the 2019 tally was slightly higher than the 1.236 billion recorded in 2017, the totals for both 2017 and 2019 rank as the worst years for movie ticket buying since 1995.
While NATO has adamantly insisted that the rise of streaming only stimulates more theatrical moviegoing, there has never been a year like 2019 in terms of the caliber of features mounted by digital players. Netflix received the most Oscar nominations of any company (24) for films like The Irishman and Marriage Story. The prestige push was also accompanied by bold strokes at the streaming giant with titles like 6 Underground, the Michael Bay-directed Ryan Reynolds action movie.
Netflix and major exhibitors were unable to hammer out a compromise on the customary release window, meaning those titles played in only select theaters and not in modern megaplexes run by AMC, Regal, Cinemark and the like.
As to ticket prices, NATO said the average in the fourth quarter of $9.37 was nearly 4% higher than the previous year, and for all of 2019 the $9.16 average was up less than 1%.
Overall, the total 2019 domestic box office was about $11.4 billion according to Comscore, down 4% from 2018’s banner $11.88 billion. Overall, the global box office it an all-time high of $42.5B with international box office climbing past $30B for the first time.