Of Course Box Office Revenue Last Year vs. This Year is Ugly

This graph from August 9 on closed theaters vs. open theaters. It’s a little better some 45+ days later, but still … (see: The Top 10 States Having The Most Movie Theaters Opened vs. Unopened)

It’s problematic seeing comparisons with last year box office stats vs. this year. There are so many mitigating factors, the biggest of which is The Thing That Should Not Be Named. We remain believers that moviegoers will return to theaters when the following things happen:

  1. Theaters nearby are reopened
  2. They feel it’s safe in their area to do so
  3. There are new movies they want to see

#1 is out of moviegoer’s control. If your favorite movie theater hasn’t opened yet and doesn’t plan to do so any time soon, then you’re not likely to return. #2 is more challenging to calculate because it involves multiple factors. #3 after #1 is the most important. If new movies are out that people want to see, very little else is going to matter. You know, build it and they will come. Sure, #2 will be a factor, but I think a bigger factor for most moviegoers — I’m talking the people who actually watch at least the average of 3-4 movies in theaters per year — is whether or not there is a movie they want to see.

The biggest movies people want to see, Tenet aside, just keep getting delayed and pushed back. Black Widow has dropped out and it’s up to No Time To Die (Bond #25) coming in November — maybe.

Back to the box office stats today. Why the numbers are wildly skewed?

We look around and see how many theaters, just in our local area, are still closed. Not just a few theaters, we’re talking like 25+ movie theaters dark and doing $0 business.

Factor in all that revenue, whatever it would be, if these theaters were open. None of that money is or can be reflected in the stats this year.

Over the weekend, North American ticket sales were an estimated $13.2 million, according to data from Comscore. For comparison, the U.S. and Canadian box offices hauled in $125.4 million during the same weekend last year thanks to the openings of “Downton Abbey,” “Ad Astra” and “Rambo: Last Blood.”

Movie theater stocks tank after another disappointing box office tally

We remember seeing the movies quoted above a year ago. Rambo: Last Blood was our first 4DX movie ever seen at the Red Rock Regal Cinema in Las Vegas. That theater is reopened and running, but we don’t live in Vegas. We haven’t been back to Vegas since March. We’re planning on going there again after the first of the year. Probably January, Feb or March, but it all depends on what’s going on in the world.

In the meantime, we’re adding our revenue to box office stats. We’re seeing all new wide release movies being released, which is a total of 7 movies since the theater opened south of us.

On a more positive note, Regal brought back FREE refills on large popcorn and soda (see: When Regal Cinemas Reopen “Temporarily” No FREE Refills for Large Popcorn and Soda)

5 thoughts on “Of Course Box Office Revenue Last Year vs. This Year is Ugly

    1. Yeah, It’s clearly not a good situation. If the theaters all close again they make $0 revenue and still have rent obligations, but can furlough employees and reduce payroll expenses.

      If they continue to stay open, receiving average to lackluster new movies to show that few moviegoers will come out and see (safety reasons or disinterest, whichever the case), they also lose money.

      I think until New York and California open studios are going to be leery about releasing their major titles. Tenet was the test case and the studios promised 85%+ would be reopened, but unfortunately local governments would only allow around 70% openings with severe restrictions on New York and California. This hurt Tenet’s revenue earning potential and spooked studios even further.

      Now, they must wait until No Time To Die nearly two months away — if that title holds out without a delay (they’ve double downed on showing so seems like they are going to go, unless some other shoe drops).

      Next month’s titles have some curiosities like Honest Thief with Liam Neeson and War with Grandpa with De Niro, but it doesn’t seem likely either of those movies will be break through revenue earners.

      If it was my business, I’d want to be operating and open doing whatever I could to bring people in. Make them feel safe, etc. Closing again will be worse than staying open and doing what they can. They need to show more movies though. They opened with a wider selection of classic titles and quickly abandoned that. Now we’ve got primarily the 7 titles that have been released since the reopening, with Tenet leading the charge and sales waning badly. There’s a few good movies in there to see, but Tenet aside nothing really that warrants rewatching at the theater.

      The lifeblood of theaters is a steady stream of 2-4+ new movies every week. That’s what happened before the pandemic, now they’re getting like 1 wide release a week from studios. This and next week *0* wide releases are scheduled. Definitely not helping the cause.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agree on all points. But they’ve had six months to prep for a second wave, and figure out a strategy; a threadbare selextion of movies isn’t helping anyone right now…and I’m still not seeing many physical ads for new films, which makes me feel there won’t be meaningful releases until the virus is under control, which it really isn’t right now, in the US in particularl…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What’s worrying is that the base-line in the US is sky-high. Europe is looking at a resurgence having brought numbers to almost zero for July and August. In the US, daily infections never dropped below a 40,000 avergae, with a death rate of around 1000 a day. With schools, unis, pubs, resturants and gyms re-opening, a spike was to be expected in Europe, but the shock is how fast the numbers multiply. If the US experience the same kind of spike, it’ll be gasoline on a fire…

        Liked by 1 person

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