LOS ANGELES Boosted by smash hits including Batman movie "The Dark Knight," global box offices earned a record $28.1 billion in 2008, up five percent amid the gloomy economy.
The Motion Picture Association, which represents Hollywood's major studios, said domestic box office, including the United States and Canada, reached $9.8 billion, a 1.7 percent increase over 2007, while elsewhere around the world ticket sales climbed seven percent to a record $18.3 billion.
"Movies can still be counted on to boost people's spirits as well as the economy," said Dan Glickman, chairman and chief executive of the movie trade group, in prepared comments for ShoWest, the industry's annual convention held in Las Vegas.
While domestic admissions -- people actually attending theaters -- were down slightly to 1.4 billion in 2008, they remained relatively equal to recent years, the MPAA said.
But admissions were up 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and eight percent in the first 10 weeks of 2009.
Average ticket prices in 2008 rose by about 30 cents to $7.18, a 4.4 percent increase roughly comparable to the consumer price index increase, the MPAA said.
The number of films released in 2008 increased slightly from the previous year to 610 compared to 599 in 2007.
The MPAA represents studios such as Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, which distributes DreamWorks films, Twentieth Century Fox, Columbia Pictures and Disney.
(Reporting by Susan Zeidler; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)