North American box office for the calendar year was set to reach new heights as the running total equalled the $10.8bn haul from 2012 on December 29, according to estimates that remained unconfirmed at time of writing.
With two days to go before the end of the year the figure was expected to soar as high as $10.9bn, fuelled by annual inflation, premium pricing for 3D films and a year of solid hit-making.
According to reports, attendance was on course for 1.36bn, around the same level as it was in 2012.
The year’s best performer was Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 through Buena Vista on $409m. Other high achievers were The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on $391.1m, Despicable Me 2 on $367.7m, Man Of Steel on $291m and Monster’s University on $268m.
Gravity grossed $254.6m, Fast & Furious 6 $238.7m, Oz The Great And Powerful $234.9m, Star Trek Into Darkness $228.8m, Thor: The Dark World $202.39m and World War Z $202.36.
Current releases Frozen and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug stand at $248.4m and $190.3m, respectively. Smaug will cross $200m in the first week of New Year if not by January 1, in which case it would become the 13th film to gross more than $200m in the year. Thirty-one releases grossed more than $100m in 2013.
News of the record year has been met with surprise in some quarters given that so much had been made of several high-profile flops, such as The Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D. and new release 47 Ronin, which cost around $175m and opened at number nine on $9.9m over the December 27-22 session.
Other disappointments at the North American box office were After Earth, White House Down, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Smurfs 2 and Kick-Ass 2.
However, in reality, the number of hits and the magnitude of their accomplishments far outweighed the flops.