June 2022 North American Box Office Set Post-Pandemic Record

Thanks to Tom Cruise’s enduring star power and some wayward dinosaurs, June ended with the highest box office — $953.4 million — since the pandemic began in March 2020. The tally bests previous ticket sale pole sitter, December 2021, which tracked about $920 million in revenue largely on the back of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home with $573 million in revenue.

Last month was led by Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited sequel to Cruise’s 1986 original Top Gun, which generated about $358.1 million, and Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Dominion with $313.1 million in ticket sales. Other significant revenue generators included Disney/Pixar Animation’s Lightyear with $97.1 million, and Warner Bros. Pictures’ biopic Elvis with $44.7 million.

Cinemark CEO Sean Gamble

“We have consistently stated that a steady stream of diverse, compelling new film content, along with improving moviegoer sentiment, would be driving forces behind the reignition of theatrical exhibition,” Sean Gamble, CEO of Cinemark, said in a statement. “We were thrilled to see these two factors play out throughout the month of June.”

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Gamble said the combined strength of June’s film releases yielded multiple noteworthy results for the North American movie industry. For instance, the $216 million box office generated during the weekend of June 10 would have ranked as the fourth-highest three-day box office weekend in 2019. Additionally, the weekend of June 17 marked only the fourth time in history that three films generated more than $40 million each at the box office — and the first time since 2013.

The fiscal results underscore increasing 88% moviegoer confidence in being “very or somewhat comfortable” going to the movies today. Notably, the variety of new releases has also brought a diversity of moviegoers back to theatres, according to Cinemark.

Of those who saw Top Gun: Maverick at a Cinemark theater on opening weekend, more than 25% were returning to the exhibitor for the first time in over a year. Nearly 30% of those patrons were over the age of 55, marking notable progress in theatrical exhibition’s broader recovery.

“Cinemark remains optimistic about the industry’s strong path to recovery as new films continue to hit the big screen through the remainder of this year and beyond,” Gamble said.

Cinemark Upbeat on Theatrical Comeback Following Vaccine Deployment

Cinemark Holdings, the third-largest movie theater operator in the U.S., has what No. 1 exhibitor AMC Entertainment doesn’t: $750 million in free cash for sustaining operations. That much was disclosed Dec. 16 at the MKM Partners Virtual Investor Conference by Cinemark CFO Sean Gamble, who said the chain with 4,500 screens across 345 theaters has enough cash to fund operations — without consumers — into 2022.

No. 1 exhibitor AMC Theatres is looking for $750 million from the sale of stock and debt to sustain operations past next January. AMC, like Regal and Cinemark, saw its business shut down overnight in March following government-mandated closures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Screens in major markets of California and New York remain mostly shuttered.

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Gamble said Cinemark also expects to get $100 million in tax refunds from the CARES Act, the bipartisan pandemic stimulus bill approved earlier this year.

CEO Mark Zoradi said the chain’s first priority entering 2021 is rebuilding the balance sheet, and not acquiring assets from fiscally distressed competitors such as AMC. News reports suggested Cinemark was looking to acquire select AMC screens.

“We are going to be very careful in taking cash that we have on hand … and risking it with acquisitions where we’re not certain what that particular outlet is going to do in a post-pandemic environment,” Zoradi said. “Until a landlord actually owns a property, it obviously is not appropriate for us to be negotiating with that landlord prior to that moment.”

The CEO, like others in Hollywood, said he was “shocked” by Warner Bros.’ decision to release its entire 2021 theatrical slate concurrently into homes through HBO Max. Zoradi said he remained positive Disney would not replicate Warner’s move following discussions with Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

“It’s a bit of an anomaly [in movie distribution] we’re seeing right now,” Zoradi said.