After hovering in the $10 billion range each year since 2009, the domestic box office finally broke $11 billion. Ticket sales reached the coveted milestone on Tuesday, December 29, making 2015 the biggest year in North American box-office history, according to Rentrak.
Having already surpassed $1 billion worldwide, Star Wars: The Force Awakens helped the box office cross the threshold in the final days of the year. The frenzy-inspiring film was just one of numerous 2015 blockbusters, though. Earlier in the year, for example, Jurassic World set a plethora of ticket sales records, albeit not very long-lasting once The Force Awakens came along.
Compared to the previous year, the North American box office climbed by 7.2 percent in 2015. The increase came after a 5.2 percent decrease between 2014’s $10.36 billion and 2013’s $10.92 billion, the previous record. The fact that 2015 had so many hits provided massive momentum. As Variety points out, 2015’s top 10 films combined to bring in over $3.6 billion, nearly one-third of the year’s gross.
“Hollywood built the perfect box-office beast in 2015, with one hit movie after the next, week after week, exceeding expectations with a regularity that made it look easy,” said Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian, in a press release. “A diverse and compelling selection of great titles, big and small, from every studio fueled an extraordinary level of interest by patrons who seemingly could not get enough of the big screen experience in 2015.”
Certain studios did have a bigger impact than others, though. Box Office Mojo indicates that Universal Pictures was the top earner of 2015, making up about 21.6 percent of the 2015 market share. Its hits included Jurassic World, Furious 7, Minions, and Pitch Perfect 2. Disney, with The Force Awakens, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and more, wasn’t far behind with 19.2 percent. In third place, Warner Bros. reached 14.1 percent with American Sniper, San Andreas, and Mad Max: Fury Road, among others.
Studios will be hard-pressed to outdo such a standout year in 2016, but with films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, and the Ghostbusters remake coming, they’re certainly poised to try.