Analysis from Gower Street Analytics suggests the 2023 worldwide box office will improve to a projected $29 billion in ticket sales from an estimated 2022 total of $25.8 billion.
Still, the 2023 projection is more than 30% below pre-pandemic 2019 box office revenue of $42.3 billion — a banner year for theaters in which Disney/Marvel alone accounted for a record $11 billion in ticket sales.
The 2023 projection would represent a 12% gain over the current year estimate. The gain would be smaller than the 21% rise in ticket sales this year compared to 2021, according to Gower.
With 20th Century Studios’ much-anticipated sequel Avatar: The Way of Water expected to boost the 2022 global box office in its final days, the year is still projected to end nearly 40% below 2019.
This year has been impacted by a $3 billion lower Chinese box office (compared to 2021); Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which resulted in U.S. studio boycotts of Russia; and a fluctuating foreign exchange rate that has resulted in U.S. studios realizing $1 billion less in revenue.
The report suggests Hollywood will have to wait until at least 2024 to see a full return to pre-pandemic global box office levels. Indeed, the 2023 forecast is 27% behind the average of the last three pre-pandemic years (2017-19) at current exchange rates (this would rise to 30% compared to historic rates).
The North American market is projected to see a 12% increase in 2023 ($8.6 billion) over 2022 ($7.65 billion) but still lag 25% behind an average of the last three pre-pandemic years. The Asia Pacific (excluding China) and Latin America regions are both expected to gain 11% to 12%, respectively, from 2022, and finish 20% down on the pre-pandemic average. Europe, the Middle East and Africa are expected to increase revenue about 7% on 2022, and finish 30% behind the pre-pandemic average due to the Russia situation.
“With a lesser-known advance release calendar and continued uncertainty around access for import titles and changing COVID policy, China remains the market that is hardest to predict,” read the report. “We are currently projecting $5.55 billion [in revenue] for China, a rise on 2022, but well short of its 2021 figure.”