North American Box-Office Revenue Rises to Record $11 Billion

Sequels and Revivals Fuel 7.2% Growth

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Vision (Paul Bettany) confronts Ultron (James Spader) in this clip from Marvel's
Vision (Paul Bettany) confronts Ultron (James Spader) in this clip from Marvel's Credit: Marvel Entertainment via YouTube

It's official: 2015 was the biggest year ever for Hollywood.

North American box-office sales crossed the $11 billion mark, industry researcher Rentrak Corp. said Tuesday in a statement. Propelled by the blockbusters "Jurassic World" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," U.S. and Canadian ticket sales on surpassed the high of $10.9 billion set in 2013. Revenue is up 7.2% this year.

Sequels to already popular movies and revivals of older hits, such as "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Furious 7," were largely responsible for the record. Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures were the main beneficiaries, sharing almost half of the year's spoils. Universal had the biggest share, with sales of $2.55 billion, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. Rentrak expects $11.1 billion in total sales by year-end.

"You are getting a great momentum heading into 2016," Eric Wold, analyst at B. Riley & Co., said in an interview. While the 2015 totals were slightly below his initial predictions, the fourth quarter is expected to exceed his forecasts.

Revenue from "Star Wars" will feed into 2016, delivering a possible 4% boost and alleviating concerns about the year's film slate, Mr. Wold said.

A diverse film mix contributed to the industry's success, said Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst, said in the statement.

With U.S. movies so popular internationally, the record North American take also signals a new high mark for the global box office, which has been rising steadily in recent years mainly due to exponential growth in China.

-- Bloomberg News

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