While domestic revenues inch upward most years largely because of inflation, the real growth areas have been overseas, where more and more fans are eager for the next Hollywood blockbuster.
Rentrak, which compiles international box office data, expects 2012's foreign gross to be about $23 billion, 3 percent higher than in 2011. No data was yet available on the number of tickets sold overseas this past year.
International business generally used to account for less than half of a studio film's overall receipts. Films now often do two or even three times as much business overseas as they do domestically. Some movies that were duds with U.S. audiences, such as "Battleship" and "John Carter," can wind up being $200 million hits with overseas crowds.
Whether finishing a good year or a bad one, Hollywood executives always look ahead to better days, insisting that the next crop of blockbusters will be bigger than ever. The same goes this time as studio bosses hype their 2013 lineup, which includes the latest "Iron Man," ''Star Trek," ''Hunger Games" and "Thor" installments, the Superman tale "Man of Steel" and the second chapter in "The Hobbit" trilogy.
Twelve months from now, they hope to be talking about another revenue record topping this year's $10.8 billion.
"I've been saying we're going to hit that $11 billion level for about three years now," said Paul Dergarabedian, a box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "Next year I think is the year we actually do it."
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