2023 Summer Box Office Has Been Much Better for Theaters Than for Studios

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Many big-budget tentpole films are failing to deliver profits for their producers, but they are providing plenty of revenue for cash-starved cinemas

theaters box office concessions
Movies want to fill seats and sell a lot of popcorn. Concessions sales are the a major revenue generator. (Getty Images)

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As the 2023 summer box office reaches its halfway mark, the season so far has been defined by a couple of bona fide hit films outweighed by several tentpoles from multiple studios that have flopped against their immense budgets.

But even those flops have contributed to a second quarter that has seen a 15% improvement over last year’s box office, which means the current theatrical marketplace has been much better for cinemas than for studios.

“The success of movie theaters is based on the profitability of all movies, not just a single one,” said Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Getting seats filled and popcorn sold is the key goal for theaters, and whether they’re succeeding is judged from a 30,000-foot view, while studios are looking for a return on investment especially on these big blockbusters.