Year-end hits including Sony’s Skyfall, Lionsgate’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, and Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey helped propel the year’s average ticket price to $7.96, which is a new all-time high (not adjusted for inflation) but up just 3 cents from 2011 according to data out today from the National Association of Theatre Owners. The growth rate, at 0.4%, is close to 2011′s 0.5% — and contrasts with the steep growth in previous years including 5.2% in 2010, 4.5% in 2009, and 4.4% in 2008. But the growth pace accelerated at the end of 2012: Tickets sold for an average of $8.05 in Q4, which is up 2.8% vs the same three month period in 2011. That’s the biggest quarterly jump since fall 2011. The average price in Q3 was $7.78, a 2% drop from the previous year. Ticket prices hit the high point for the year in Q2 when they reached $8.12, up 0.7% from 2011. Last week Regal, the largest exhibition chain, reported that it raised the average ticket price for a 2D movie by 3.3% in Q4, but that was offset by a decline in the percentage of box office revenues from premium ticket sales for large screen and 3D movies. They accounted for 14% of the company’s Q4 box office revenue, down from 17% in the period in 2011.

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