February 23, 2024

After making a partial post-pandemic recovery, global cinema box office is expected to retreat again in 2024, as the twin writers’ and actors’ strikes of 2023 are forecast to have a negative impact on theatrical revenues.

Box office research firm Gower Street Analytics, in a preliminary draft of its annual forecast, says that worldwide cinema box office should weigh in at $33.4 billion for 2023. But next year could be 5% lower, at $31.5 billion.

The 2024 global projection would put the year’s total 20% below the average of the last three pre-pandemic years, 2017-2019.

The forecasts are derived from a combination of Gower Street’s Forecast Database, currently-known release calendars and additional analyst assessments.

“Given that we lost 50% of production time in 2023, the anticipated 5% year-on-year decrease in 2023 is not indicative of a declining interest in cinema, but simply a direct consequence of limited product availability,” said Gower Street CEO Dimitrios Mitsinikos. “In fact, as July 2023 marked a record-breaking month at the global box office, we know that there is a robust audience demand for compelling theatrical releases.”

“The impact of the recent writers’ and actors’ strikes on the release calendar, in terms of global-appeal Hollywood product, has been significant,” said Rob Mitchell, director of theatrical insights at Gower Street. “That is the key driver of this slight regression in recovery momentum we’re seeing in 2024 that looks to postpone any chance of returning to pre-pandemic levels until 2025.”

The company says that its understanding of the titles likely to release in 2025 point to, “a very good year at the global box office and hopefully a positive trend-setter for the second half of this decade.”

The territory most affected by the strikes’ impact on production, unsurprisingly, is Hollywood’s North American or domestic market. Gower Street forecasts that 2024 box office in North America will finish 11% lower than 2023, at approximately $8 billion. That would be 30% below the 2017-2019 average and only a modest 7% ahead of 2022.

The international market (excluding China) in 2024 is anticipated to finish 7% down compared with 2023, at approximately $15.6 billion, slightly propped up by local films. The forecast total is 21% lower than the 2017-2019 average, but 12% ahead of 2022.

Within the international aggregate, Gower Street estimates that Europe, Middle East & Africa will finish 2024 at $8 billion (23% below the 2017-2019 average, 9% below 2023 levels, and 13% ahead of 2022).

Asia Pacific excluding China will finish 2024 at $5.2 billion (22% below the 2017-2019 average, 2% below 2023, and 6% ahead of 2022).

Latin America is forecast to finish 2024 at $2.4 billion (15% below the 2017-2019 average, 8% below 2023, and 22% better than 2022).

China, with its massive installed base of cinemas and its shrinking dependence on Hollywood content, is the only market forecast to grow next year. Gower Street estimates 5% growth in 2024 to $7.9 billion – a figure that would put it within a whisker of the North American market – but the company also warns that limited visibility into the Middle Kingdom releasing calendar makes China the hardest market to predict.

“The international market is a bit less impacted by the limited release calendar caused by the Hollywood strike, compared to domestic,” said Gower Street’s chief analyst Thomas Beranek, who led the work on the 2024 projection. “Local and international titles have more space to shine in each market when the supply of attractive U.S. product is shortened. This has been proven frequently since the pandemic disrupted both production and release cycles in 2020.”

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