The National Association of Theatre Owners and Comscore announced on Friday reported that global box office total for 2019 passed $42 billion for the first time ever, as a dip in domestic revenue was made up for by surges in overseas markets, particularly in Asia.
In addition, the final total for the 2019 domestic box office clocked in at $11.4 billion. Although down 4% from last year’s record $11.85 billion, it topped the $11.38 billion earned in 2016 to become the second highest grossing year of all time.
While the chances of breaking the 2018 domestic record were lost after a very sluggish first quarter, NATO execs noted that the box office quickly rebounded thanks to a slew of hits that started with the Marvel Studios one-two punch of “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame” in the spring.
“Through every challenge, through every new technology innovation over the last twenty years, theatrical admissions have been stable and box office has consistently grown,” NATO President and CEO John Fithian said in a statement. “We look forward to 2020 when a wider range of studios and filmmakers offer audiences more opportunities for even more moviegoing.”
NATO also noted that while Disney took a record-breaking 34% of domestic market share — 37% when you count films from its acquisition of 20th Century Fox — movies grossing over $100 million accounted for virtually the same share of the total box office in 2019 as in 2018 (63.8% vs. 63.9%). The trade organization says that this is a sign that smaller films that gross under $100 million theatrically — “the exact type of movies streaming is said to be harming,” they say — are continuing to perform as usual.
While conflicts between movie theaters and Netflix have made headlines in the past year, Fithian and NATO have asserted that theaters and streaming can coexist and boost each other’s business. They cite internal surveys as well as those conducted by the MPA, Screen Engine/ASI, and Fandango that show that “the most frequent moviegoers are also the consumers who stream the most.”
“We definitely think that HBO Max and other new streamers will try to adopt a synergistic strategy by picking the right types of movies for a theatrical run to help build the brand and make a profit in cinemas, or content for streaming services reinforces interest in similar titles like with the documentaries,” Fithian told TheWrap in November. “This isn’t strictly a new concept. It’s just an old idea that we saw with things like straight-to-video and TV movies being adapted to a new medium.”
Analysts are expecting a stronger Q1 in 2020 thanks to better lead in from films like “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Jumanji: The Next Level” as well as new wide releases like “1917,” “Bad Boys for Life,” and potential blockbusters like “Birds of Prey” and “Mulan” in the later months. That will lead into a summer that will include films like “Black Widow,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” and “Fast & Furious 9.”