Theatrical Data Consultant Narrows 2024 Global Revenue Decline Forecast

The 2024 global box office is projected to reach $32.3 billion in revenue, down about 3% (based on current exchange rates) from revenue of $33.9 billion in 2023, according to revised data from Gower Street Analytics, an industry data firm partnered with Comscore.

In December, Gower had originally projected worldwide theatrical revenue this year of $31.5 billion. The improved forecast, announced ahead of the CinemaCon industry confab through April 11 in Las Vegas, still lags 18% behind the average annual pre-pandemic box office revenue from 2017 through 2019 — the year when Disney alone dominated the market with $11 billion in Marvel-themed ticket sales.

The improved outlook is due to added theatrical releases in the 2024 slate, in addition to a 1% gain in first-quarter (ended March 31) ticket sales in North America and China year-over-year, and an 11% increase in foreign box office revenue, excluding China. Forecast revenue increases include about $200 million in North America and $500 million across foreign screens.

The top-grossing theatrical releases thus far are Warner Bros. Pictures’ Dune: Part Two with $660.6 million in revenue, ahead of Universal Pictures’ Kung Fu Panda 4 with $410.4 million in ticket sales, and Warner’s Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire with $361 million.

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CinemaCon 2023

Since its launch in 2011, CinemaCon has evolved and grown to become one of the biggest and most important annual gatherings for the worldwide motion picture industry.  With attendees from more than 80 countries, CinemaCon features everything from exclusive Hollywood product presentations debuting a slate of upcoming films, to must-see premiere feature screenings, to the biggest stars, producers and directors.

NATO Chief Says Theaters Open to Screening Netflix Movies, While Blasting Studio Day-and-Date Strategy

LAS VEGAS — National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) president and CEO John Fithian extended an olive branch to Netflix, which theater owners for years have considered an enemy due to its investment in original content and stepped-up original movie slate.

Speaking April 26 in the Caesars Palace Colosseum, he said the theatrical “door is always open for bigger, broader play of Netflix movies if that is a path they want to go down. They’re movie fans, like we’re movie fans.”

He also praised co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who once ran video rental stores, saying, “Ted Sarandos knows movies and TV better than anyone in Hollywood.”

Earlier in his speech, Fithian blasted the same-day theatrical and home release strategy that emerged during the pandemic, telling CinemaCon attendees that “simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it.”

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He cited MUSO research that showed a big increase in piracy when high-profile new movies are released digitally at the same time as they open theatrically. MUSO said global film piracy increased by more than 33% during the lockdown.

When theaters were shuttered in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, studios shifted toward a digital release, generally at a premium price. Throughout the spring and summer of 2020, films that would have been major theatrical releases — including Disney’s live-action Mulan, Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour and Warner Bros. Scoob! — hit PVOD first before moving on to other windows.

The theatrical business didn’t begin to really recover until the spring of 2021. In the meantime, then-WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar had made the stunning announcement that Warner Bros.’ entire theatrical slate of 17 major movies would be released simultaneously to whatever theaters were open and the HBO Max streaming service.

The theatrical exhibition business has come roaring back, despite periodic surges in COVID-19, but studios continue to tinker with same-day releases, particularly on smaller films. And the traditional 90-day theatrical window appears to have been permanently shattered. Warner Bros. is sending most of its films to HBO Max 45 days after their theatrical launch, while Universal Pictures is doing the same with its streaming service Peacock. The studio distributes select theatrical titles into the PVOD channel after 17 days if the box office is below $50 million.

Paramount Pictures is releasing most of its films to Paramount+ 45 days later, as well, although some, most notably Clifford the Big Red Dog and Paw Patrol: The Movie, are being sent to the studio’s streaming service on the same day that they hit the big screen.

Fithian implied theater owners can live with shorter windows but maintained day-and-date has got to go. He told CinemaCon attendees that if a film many people want to see is released immediately to the home market, it is much more vulnerable to piracy because of the greater profit potential for pirates.

Cinepolis CEO Alejandro Ramírez Magaña had essentially the same message during his International Day keynote address. He cited TorrentFreak data that showed nine out of the 10 most-pirated films in their respective launch weeks were day-and-date releases.