Global Box Office Recovery Is Accelerating as China Delivers One Third of 2021 Revenue, Says Analyst

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The global box office recovery is accelerating. Revenues in 2021 could hit $21.6 billion, according to a new forecast from research firm Gower Street Analytics.

That compared with the firm’s previous $20.2 billion estimate made a couple of months ago.

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“We anticipate a potential additional upside that could see the current year finish around $22 billion globally. The $21.6 billion estimate would put 2021 80% ahead of 2020, but still 49% behind 2019’s record global tally,” said Gower Street in a research note.

“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. The combined successes of China’s Golden Week holiday, led by ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin,” James Bond title ‘No Time to Die,” and Marvel anti-hero sequel “Venom: Let There be Carnage” which ramped up cinema-going around the world,” said the firm.

The biggest component of the gain is from China, which is forecast to lift the Asia-Pacific region to fully 52% of global box office this year, up from 50% in 2020. China on its own is forecast to account for 34% of global theatrical revenues in 2021.

According to Gower Street, the North American (aka domestic) market will represent an essentially unchanged 21.6% global market share, while Latin America holds steady at 4.6%, The loser is Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where 2021 market share is expected to drop from 23.1% in 2020 to 21.6% in 2021.

As countries end lockdowns and adopt new living with COVID strategies, October has been a strong month for the cinema industry. Gower Street has increased its estimate for the month by 30% from $2.5 billion to $3.2 billion. “This would put October 2021 business just 4% behind the average of the three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019). No previous month in 2021 has performed better than 40% behind the three-year average.

A significant portion of the increased October estimate came from China, which is predicted to gross 41% more that the three-year average. Chinese cinemas reopened in July 2020, but its recovery had appeared to stall in mid-2020. The previous four months (June to September 2021) had all been significantly below the three-year average.

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