The US box office is almost 5% up on last year according to figures in the Hollywood Reporter.
Pirates of the Caribbean took over $1bn worldwide
After a poor 2005 there was concern pressure from piracy, internet downloading and high ticket prices had sent cinema attendance into a decline.
But hits like Pirates of the Caribbean helped total sales reach an estimated at $9.42bn, (£4.8bn) compared with 2005's $8.99bn (£4.6bn).
Summer takings were particularly strong but the year ended relatively weakly.
A rise in ticket prices is partially responsible for the increase but actual attendance figures rose by 3% on the previous year.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest set both an opening-day and single-day record of $55.8m (£28.5m), as well as an opening weekend record of $135.6m (£69m) on its release in July.
By the end of the year it had made $423.3m (£216m) in the US and over $1bn (£510m) globally.
THE 2006 $200M++ CLUB
1.Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $423.3m (£216m)
2.Cars $244.1m (£124.5m)
3. X-Men: The Last Stand $234.4m (£119.6m)
4.The Da Vinci Code $217.5m (£111m)
5. Superman Returns $200.1m (£102m)
This helped the 2006 summer box office to an estimated 7% lead on the previous year, but this fell when winter releases failed to match the success of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Other indicators gave mixed signals as to box office success. While no 2005 film passed the $400m (£204m) mark, seven films made more than $200m (£102m), compared with five this year.
The highest take by an R-rated movie - where anyone under 17 requires adult supervision - was $125m (£63.8m) by Borat, the spoof journalist created by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.
The highest ever annual take in the US was $9.54bn (£4.86bn) in 2004.