03/26/2014 02:32 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2014

African-American Movie Attendance Nets Major Increase With Over 170 Million Viewers

John Shearer/Invision/AP

2013 was a pivotal year in black film, with the release of several motion pictures highlighting black history and the black experience, and a historic Best Picture win for "12 Years A Slave" at the Academy Awards. And just as there were more black faces on the screen, there were more in the audience, too: A recent study found an significant increase in African-American attendance at theaters last year.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Motion Picture Association of America estimates that more than 170 million African-Americans attended movies in 2013. That's a 13 percent increase from 2012, and the first major year-over-year increase since 2009.

Despite the rise in African-American audiences, Hispanics remained the minority group with the most purchasing power at the box office, accounting for a full 25 percent of ticket sales.

"Last year, I addressed the need to appeal to diverse audiences. Here again, we see progress," National Association of Theatre Owners chairman-president John Fithian said this week during CinemaCon in Las Vegas. "The year 2013 in the U.S. brought the highest-grossing Spanish-language movie of all time with 'Instructions Not Included.'"

"Perhaps even more telling, more movies in 2013 featured more black actors in important roles that drove more patrons to the theaters," Fithian added. "That's why we saw substantial growth in moviegoing for African-Americans and other minorities."

Since its initial limited release on Oct. 18, Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" has grossed over $56 million in ticket sales domestically, and an additional $116 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Read more at The Hollywood Reporter.



'12 Years A Slave' Photos