Captain America and Iron Man of 'The Avengers'
Despite a chilly summer at the box office, 2012 will be Hollywood's highest-revenue year and the first since 2009 when ticket sales increased, analysts project.
If forecasts hold through the end of the year, the industry will see about $10.8 billion in ticket sales, according to Hollywood.com.
The previous record was 2009's $10.6 billion. And while the record doesn't mean movies are completely over the slump (inflation helps set high marks at the box office), the industry shows signs of a turnaround.
The haul would mark a 6 percent increase over sales in 2011, when Hollywood took in about $10.2 billion.
Increased ticket revenues are bolstered by people returning to the multiplex: Attendance is up about 5 percent over last year. Though 2012 probably won't challenge 2002's modern-day record of 1.7 billion tickets sold, 1.3 million people already have passed through the turnstiles this year.
Ticket sales had been sliding since 2009, although prices rose from $7.50 then to $7.94 this year, says Hollywood.com. IMAX and 3-D were expected to keep revenue rising.
A flagging economy and overload of 3-D pictures flatlined sales until this year, when "The Avengers" made $623 million to become the third-highest-grossing film of all time.
"We have a ways to go to get back to the days when movies ruled entertainment," says Jeff Bock of industry tracker Exhibitor Relations. "But we're moving in the right direction."