"The thing the summer showed us was that volume works," said Corcoran of the National Assn. of Theatre Owners.

Although volume is good for theater owners, a traffic jam of titles can damage their distributors.

The summer's large number of animated movies — including DreamWorks Animation's "Turbo" and Disney's "Planes" and its Pixar subsidiary's "Monsters University" and Universal's "Despicable Me 2" — may have been too many.

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"There's only a certain amount of shelf space," said Richie Fay, Lionsgate's president of domestic distribution.

But for a year that did not include a film from the Harry Potter, Batman, James Bond or Spider-Man franchises, a small increase in revenue is a significant victory, said Greg Foster, chief executive of Imax Entertainment.

Foster said he's looking forward to 2014's slate, which will include a new "Transformers" movie and the Christopher Nolan film "Interstellar," both from Paramount, and a Spider-Man sequel from Sony. The coming year will also bring "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1" and "The Hobbit: There and Back Again."

"It feels like the makings — if the movies work — of an exciting year," Foster said.