Cinemas See Six Films Topping $1 Billion at Box Office in 2015

As many as six films may take in $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales this year, according to John Fithian, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Fithian, who didn’t name the films, made the forecast Tuesday at the industry’s annual CinemaCon gathering in Las Vegas. One 2015 release, Universal Pictures’ “Furious 7,” became the first by crossing that mark last week.

“The remainder of the year is packed with likely commercial successes,” Fithian said. “We believe that 2015 will see the opening of at least four, and perhaps as many as six, $1 billion movies.”

Studios are releasing films from some of their top series this year, including “Star Wars,” “Avengers” and “Mission: Impossible.” That’s led analysts to predict record summer revenue of up to $5 billion this summer in the U.S. and a new domestic mark of more than $11 billion for the year.

Fithian also cited the bigger role women have in front of the camera in this year’s pictures. Three major movies so far this year had women in lead roles, including “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Women have accounted for 60 percent or more of ticket purchases this year, he said.

Exhibitors at the annual gathering were treated to a preview of 2015 films. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Cruise introduced footage from their upcoming films for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures.

The Motion Picture Association of America, representing the studios, highlighted its latest anti-piracy campaign.

Industry Website

The WhereToWatch.com site, which directs users to legal places to watch movies, either online or in theaters, has been viewed “multiple thousands of times” since its debut in November, MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said at press conference.

Fithian highlighted the progress in preventing illegal copies of new releases -- about 90 percent of which are filmed in theaters and then streamed on the Internet. It takes about three days for a good quality copy to surface online, compared with one day when tracking started a few years ago.

The cinema industry executive also expressed alarm at the rise of broadcasting apps such as Twitter Inc.’s Periscope, which he described as “scary stuff.”

The live-video app had been used to stream the Universal’s “Furious 7,” he said. Time Warner Inc.’s HBO sent take-down notices to Periscope this month after episodes of “Game of Throne” were streamed there.

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