Glimmers of hope for box office recovery

Global market share of box office in APAC to rise from 50 % in 2020 to 52.2 % in 2021.

Los Angeles: The global box office is accelerating. Revenues in 2021 could hit 21.6 billion, according to a revised forecast from the research firm Gower Street Analytics. The estimate has been revised from a previous estimate of $20.2 billion with a potential additional upside that could see the current year finish closer to $22 billion globally.

“The $1.4 billion gain to the global prediction since our previous estimate, which was based on eight months of actuals and estimates for the final four months of the year, is primarily due to the blockbuster boost brought about by October,” said the firm.

The reason for the shift is driven primarily by the strong performance of October titles including China’s 'The Battle at Lake Changjin' ($845 million through the past Sunday), MGM/Eon/Universal’s "No Time To Die" ($605.7 million) and Sony’s "Venom: Let there Be Carnage" ($395.8M). Warner Bros/Legendary’s "Dune" is also coming out of a strong, expanded release frame with a global total of $296.4 million.

The $21.6 billion estimates would put 2021, 80 per cent ahead of 2020, but still 49 per cent behind 2019’s record global tally. This is the final estimate the firm plans to publish for 2021 before actuals are announced in early January.

According to Gower Street, the market share of global box office represented by North America (aka the domestic US) held relatively unchanged, down from 21.8 per cent to 21.6 per cent. Likewise, Latin America held steady, down from 4.9 per cent to 4.6 per cent. These markets are expected to remain relatively unchanged between 2020 and 2021. The Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) dropped from 23.1% to 21.6 per cent.

In contrast, the Asian-Pacific (APAC) market is expected to expand its share from just over 50 per cent in 2020 to 52.2 per cent in 2021. However, the APAC gain is entirely due to China, which has made its own further encroachment within the APAC region, with a reduced market share of the worldwide box office in the region’s other key markets: Japan, South Korea, and Australia. China is expected to represent nearly 34 per cent of the global box office in 2021, compared to just over 28 per cent in 2020. Japan, meanwhile, sees its market share halve from 12.2 per cent to just six per cent. Korea drops from 4.1 per cent to 2.4 per cent, and Australia from 2.7 per cent to 2.1 per cent.

Hollywood, in general, is still feeling the fallout from the pandemic. Despite US theatres being mostly back in full operations, there has been hesitation on the part of audiences to return to filling seats to full capacity. However, Hollywood studios and theatre owners are beginning to entice a return to the big screen with persuasive marketing campaigns and exclusive in-theatre movie releases.

Likewise, the Indian Box Office took a hard hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bollywood had a banner year in 2019 and heading into 2020, according to Statista, the box office revenue for the Indian film industry was valued at about Rs 139 billion. This figure was estimated to drop to only Rs 30 billion a year later due to the pandemic impact. However, hope remains high as theatres begin to reopen. Movie theatres in the entertainment capital of Mumbai reopened on 22 October after 18 months of closure due to Covid-19.

Overall, the global estimate for October has risen nearly 30 per cent from an original estimate of $2.5 billion to $3.2 billion. This would put October business just 4 per cent behind the average of the three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019) for the month. No previous month in 2021 has performed better than 40 per cent behind the three-year average.

"The Battle at Lake Changjin" tops the 2021 worldwide box office chart with more than $845 million in ticket sales to date. China’s blockbuster "Hi, Mom" which was released in February, follows at number two with $822 million. Universal carries the number three spot with "F9: The Fast Saga" with $721.1 million. China’s "Detective Chinatown 3" is number four worldwide ($686.3 million).

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