2020 Box Office: Domestic Revenue Falls to 40-Year Low

Labor News, Industry News

Reprinted from The Hollywood Reporter by Pamela McClintock on December 14, 2020.

Mid-December is usually a launching pad for yuletide-fueled holiday blockbusters. That isn’t the case this year as Hollywood and theater owners grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and a virtual nine-month standstill in moviegoing that will result in the worst showing for domestic ticket sales in at least four decades.

Case in point: There were no new wide releases at the North American box office over the December 11-13 weekend. Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age topped the chart for the third consecutive weekend with a mere $3.2 million — a veritable fortune during the pandemic — for a domestic total of $24.5 million.

Preliminary estimates show North American movie ticket sales for 2020 inching toward $2.3 billion. That would be the lowest showing since the early 1980s, if not the late 1970s, and that’s before adjusting for inflation. Box-office tracking didn’t begin in earnest until the early ’80s, so sourcing is complicated, although the Motion Picture Association shows domestic revenue hitting $4 billion for the first time in 1984.

Presently, domestic revenue for 2020 stands at around $2.2 billion, according to Comscore. That’s down roughly 80 percent from 2019, which ended up at $11.4 billion. …

THR 12/14

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Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.