September 25, 2023



Summer box office earnings in North America may ultimately reach $4 billion, despite initial uncertainties.

Summer box office earnings in North America may ultimately reach $4 billion, despite initial uncertainties.

During the season, movie ticket sales were lagging behind last summer by 7 percent until Barbenheimer’s intervention. Now, there has been a remarkable turnaround, with domestic revenue surging by nearly 17 percent.

The Hollywood atmosphere was rather pessimistic in mid-July, especially following the disappointing performance of several major blockbuster films at the domestic box office, notably Warner Bros. and DC’s letdown, The Flash.

As of July 20, overall summer ticket sales were trailing behind summer 2022 by 7 percent, dampening hopes of reaching the coveted $4 billion summer revenue goal, which would signify a return to pre-pandemic levels.

However, everything took a dramatic turn on July 21 with the releases of Barbie and Oppenheimer, which rapidly became cultural phenomena. Thanks largely to Barbenheimer’s impact, summer revenue has now reached $3.797 billion, marking an impressive 16.6 percent increase compared to the same summer period in 2022. Additionally, the gap from summer 2019, when revenue hit $4.34 billion, has shrunk from 15 percent to just 5.4 percent. It’s amazing how much can change in just a month.

Paul Dergarabedian, the chief box office analyst at Comscore, believes that reaching the $4 billion mark is once again a possibility. He stated, “We still have two weekends left, including the long Labor Day weekend holiday. It would be a fantastic result for the industry.” Dergarabedian added, “If it weren’t for Barbenheimer compensating for the underperformance of other films that didn’t meet expectations, this summer would have looked significantly different. Or take ‘Sound of Freedom,’ for example, no one saw that coming.”

While the major summer releases are winding down, there’s a potential boost in grosses on August 27 when thousands of theaters nationwide will reduce ticket prices to $4 for any film in any format in celebration of the second annual National Cinema Day.

Over 3,000 movie theaters with more than 30,000 screens will participate in this one-day event. Moviegoers can choose from a wide selection, ranging from new releases like “Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story,” “Golda,” and “Retribution” to ongoing hits such as “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” and “Sound of Freedom.” Additionally, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “The Little Mermaid Sing-Along” will be featured, along with re-releases of classics such as “Jurassic Park (3D),” “American Graffiti,” “Lady Bird,” and “Oldboy.”

At the domestic box office, “Barbie” leads the list of top-grossing summer titles with $566.8 million, followed by “Spider-Man: Across the Universe” ($380.9 million), “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” ($359 million), “The Little Mermaid” ($297.2 million), “Oppenheimer” ($285.4 million), and “Sound of Freedom” ($177.8 million). The next two highest earners are “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” ($173.6 million) and “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part I” ($164.6 million), both of which are considered disappointments. All earnings are as of August 20.

The year-to-date domestic revenue stands at $6.486 billion, marking a significant increase of 24.4 percent compared to 2022. However, it remains 14.1 percent lower than the revenue recorded in 2019.

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Ralph Calaway