Both globally and domestically, the box office was much stronger in 2021 than in 2020, with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” being the first film to earn $1 billion since 2019. But while the market to see a film in a cinema was more lucrative, driven by the availability of safe and effective vaccines, it was still far from its pre-pandemic profitability.
This is partly related to the prevalence of streaming. Services like Disney+ and Netflix offer big-budget experiences like “Red Notice” (it cost $200 million to make) and “The Mandalorian” (its first season cost $100 million). Disney+ in particular has waived theaters for Pixar’s “Soul” and “Luca,” with plans to do the same for the studio’s next film “Turning Red.” Disney+ and HBO Max also allowed their subscribers to watch select movies on their platforms while they were simulcast in theaters, with Disney+ charging an additional fee, effectively ending theater exclusivity on certain titles.
But perhaps the main reason the box office isn’t what it once was is that the world has never recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, with vaccines being unevenly distributed around the world. and a segment of the population of the countries that have access to them refusing to take them. due to vaccine hesitancy and the emergence of notable variants of COVID that have reduced the effectiveness of our vaccines.
It’s also worth noting that Massachusetts didn’t fully reopen until May 2021. Given the economic upheaval from the virus that continued into the past year, many consumers didn’t have the disposable income to go to the theater. regularly or could have been understandable. reluctant to engage in the same level of recreational spending as before the pandemic. I think that’s also why the top five US films in the world in 2021 (“Spider-Man: No Way Home”, “No Time To Die”, “F9: The Fast Saga”, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and “Godzilla vs. Kong”) were all from established franchises; if you were going to risk seeing a movie in theaters, you’d probably want to make sure it was something you knew you’d like.
Surprisingly, early data shows the omicron coronavirus variant hasn’t had a devastating impact on consumers’ comfort in going to the movies, according to a Morning Consult report from Jan. 5, with 47% of U.S. adults saying they feel comfortable watching a movie. in theaters, which is down from the 2021 high of 55%, but was similar to what the company measured in late September and early October, though that may change as the variant persists.
Their data also shows that one in five Americans plan to return to the movies next month, with an almost equal amount planning to return within the next six months. As such, Morning Consult concluded, “While younger consumers continue to express greater comfort in returning to activities like going to the movies, data suggests that Americans in general are still hesitant to embrace out-of-home entertainment. as the omicron variant sweeps across the country.”
This would suggest that the resounding success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the exception and not the rule going forward; I wouldn’t expect to see another billion dollar revenue for some time.
For our local theatres, I hope this means that while the flow of blockbusters and their audiences won’t be as strong as they were in 2019 in the future at least for a while, the worst of the pandemic is behind them.
Movie studios have taken a noticeable hit to their cinema films in 2021, with many movies barely scraping or even taking losses, but there’s reason to hope better days are ahead.
The pandemic has certainly shaken theaters and their place in our entertainment regimes, just like Hollywood. In 2020, a Chinese film (“The Eight Hundred”) was the highest performing film worldwide, with Japanese animated feature “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” being the second highest. ‘Bad Boys for Life’, the highest-grossing American film, took home the third-highest loot. Until December, another Chinese film, “The Battle of Changjin Lake” was the highest-grossing film of 2021. This is remarkable because before 2020, an American film had topped the global box office every year since the start of the blockbuster movie era (arguably somewhere between 1975’s “Jaws” and 1977’s “Star Wars”).
The box office rebound from the low point of 2020, however, affirms that the theatrical experience still has its place in a market dominated by streaming giants and blighted by the pandemic.
Mitchell Chapman is an Eagle Page Designer/Copy Editor and Columnist.