Taking a look ahead to 2023, Gower Street Analytics is projecting global box office to hit $29B, repping a 12% gain on 2022 should this year remain on track for approximately $25.8B. The London-based firm estimates 2022 receipts stood at $23.6B as of December 10.
If this early projection holds, Gower says it would suggest the industry will need to wait until at least 2024 to see a full return to pre-pandemic global levels. Its 2023 forecast is still 27% behind the average of the last three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019) at current exchange rates (this would rise to 30% compared to historic rates).
The past year brought further recovery, including two $1B+ grossers in Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion, but also challenges for worldwide turnstiles including a severely depressed China, which locked out Marvel movies and is expected to end 2022 nearly $3B behind 2021; the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which led to U.S. studios not releasing films in Russia; and an exchange rate rollercoaster which pummeled the amount of dollars returning from international box office markets (Gower estimates that was a $1B hit). Meanwhile, the calendar had big gaps, exacerbated by a post-production bottleneck that pushed films out of the year. Gower says that was worth more than $1B on its domestic estimate alone.
The film tech company, using its FORECAST service and analyst assessment, is basing its 2023 numbers on the release calendar as it currently stands.
Per Gower, the domestic market is projected to deliver a 12% increase in 2023 to $8.6B versus 2022’s $7.65B, but come in 25% behind an average of the last three pre-pandemic years.
Internationally, the Asia Pacific (ex-China) and Latin America regions are both expected to gain 11-12% on 2022 and come in approximately 20% down on the pre-pandemic average. The Europe, Middle East and Africa region is expected to increase approximately 7% on 2022 and finish 30% behind the pre-pandemic average (the key impact here being Russia).
As ever, China remains the most difficult market to predict given a lesser known advance release calendar and continued uncertainty around access for import titles. Avatar: The Way of Water officially released today and is seeing some encouraging early play (it’s at about $20M as of 5pm local time and including the past two days of lighter previews), but the changing Covid policy is being felt. For 2023, Gower is projecting $5.55B for China, a rise on 2022 but well short of its 2021 figure.
Here’s a chart provided by Gower:
NB: Figures in the graph show U.S.$ figures at historical exchange rates for years prior to 2022 and at current exchange rates for forecast years (2022-2023).