Box office revenues reached a staggering $2.7 billion in China in 2012, even more than expected and up 37 percent over 2011.
Supplanting Japan, China is now the largest moviegoing market outside of North America, where the box office generated $10.8 billion in revenues in 2012. The figures were revealed in the Motion Picture Association of America's annual report on theatrical statistics, which was released Thursday.
The sweeping report showed global box office revenues hitting $34.7 billion in 2012, up 6 percent over the previous year due to a growth spurt both internationally -- where revenues reached $23.9 billion -- and in North America. Overseas, all regions except for Europe enjoyed gains.
Until the MPAA's report came out, Chinese box office revenues for 2012 were estimated to be roughly $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion, which would have put it on par with Japan, if not slightly behind.
According to the MPAA report, revenues in Japan totaled $2.4 billion in 2012, followed by the U.K. ($1.7 billion), France ($1.7 billion), India ($1.4 billion), Germany ($1.3 billion), South Korean ($1.3 billion), Russia ($1.2 billion), Australia ($1.2 billion) and Brazil ($800 million).
Brazil, Russia, India and China -- known as the BRIC countries - are considered hotbeds for moviegoing.
Overall, the international box office in 2012 was up 32 percent over five years ago.
Four films released in 2012 crossed $1 billion in global sales, led by The Avengers ($1.5 billion).
In terms of North America, the MPAA report confirmed a notable uptick in the number of adults going to the movies. In the 40-49 age group alone, there were 5.8 million frequent moviegoers, compared to only 3.3 million in 2011.
Hispanics also remained avid moviegoers in 2012, making more trips to the multiplex than any other ethnicity.
Domestic ticket sales in 2012 continued to be driven by frequent moviegoers (those who go to the cinema once a month or more). In 2012, frequent moviegoers represented 13 percent of the population and bought 57 percent of all movie tickets sold, a increase of 7 percent over the previous year.
In 2012, 48 percent of all moviegoers in North America saw at least one 3D title.