A Strong(ish) Year for the Global Box Office

While the strong upturn of the 2022 domestic box office didn’t quite carry its momentum into the latter parts of the year, we still saw a strong year-on-year growth, at least by pandemic standards. With at least some solid upward growth to cling to, the global box office closed significantly higher than its benchmarks in 2021, even if we can’t truly claim to be passed the effects of the pandemic. With another year behind us, Blake & Wang P.A entertainment attorney and industry specialist, Brandon Blake, dives deeper into some of the global figures for 2022. 

27% Upswing

For 2022, the global box office tops out at just short of $26B, or a 27% boost over 2021’s figures according to data released from Gower Street Analytics. Breaking that down further, we see 18.4B from the overseas box offices (combined), with some downward drag from the struggling Chinese box office. If we remove them from the data, we see a $14.1B total takings, a 55% increase on 2021 figures. 

On the domestic side, we see a 65% increase to $7.5B. Lower than the hoped-for $9B, but a solid improvement all the same and reason for some celebration. 

A Long Way to Go

Of course, we have yet to breach those coveted pre-pandemic benchmarks, and by quite a long stretch at that. Those worldwide figures represent 35% below the rolling 2017-2019 three-year average. Adjusted for inflation, that means it fell short of the target by around $14B. Excluding domestic and Chinese data, the deficit is a little smaller, sitting at 29% below the average.

The Europe, Middle East and Africa came in at $7.1B and 31% down on the rolling average, but 52% higher than 2021. Without China, Asia-Pacific delivered $5.2B, 26% down on the pre-pandemic figures but a 49% increase on 2021, and Latin America rounds out the list at $1.8B, 30% down, but an impressive 87% up on 2021.

However, looking at the positives, only China and Russia finished at under 2021 figures. Chalk that up to a lack of Hollywood releases for the Chinese market combined with struggles with domestic releases and growing concerns about COVID. Hopefully, with the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist party now behind us and the National Party Congress completed, we’ll see a lot more rational handling of this market going forward. We doubt the 46% downturn this year pleased local markets much. As can be expected with global political conditions, Russia also saw a 43% drop on its 2021 figures.

In contrast, the year’s star performer has to be Japan. With just 9.4% below pre-pandemic averages, its $1.52B is a big chunk of the wider Asia-Pacific region, too. Overall, Top Gun: Maverick turned in the best performance overall in the calendar year 2022, with Avatar: The Way of Water just surpassing it with its January figures. 

While it’s not perfect, it’s an overall strong boost to the 2021 figures, and gives a solid baseline for 2023. With more product, an end to many of the backlogs caused by the pandemic, and some luck, let's hope to find ourselves discussing a stellar year soon.

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