Boosted by the opening of Universal’s action sequel F9, the North American box office reached $1 billion on Sunday and is currently standing around $1.003 billion total.
That’s a critical benchmark as the exhibition industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Though comparisons to a pre-pandemic environment are apples and oranges, the domestic box office reached $1B in early February 2020 (before the shutdown occurred that March) and in mid-February 2019. 2020’s domestic box office stalled out at $1.79B, a number likely to be eclipsed later this summer.
How did we get here?
The year started off a bit underwhelming, as the vaccine rollout began slower than expected and many cinemas remained closed. January saw domestic grosses of about $65.1M, led by Warner Bros.’ Christmas Day holdover Wonder Woman 1984. February totals decreased to $57.7M, led by Warner Bros.’ animated Tom & Jerry.
Every subsequent month thus far, though, has seen an uptick in box office. March, led by Raya and the Last Dragon, Disney’s first new theatrical release in a full year, took in $113.5M. April boosted that further with $189.8M, led by Warner Bros.’ Godzilla vs. Kong. May improved still with $209.2M, led by Paramount’s horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II. June, led by F9, is looking to finish somewhere around $400M.
The top grossing films of 2021 through Sunday were A Quiet Place Part II with $136.3M, Godzilla vs. Kong with $100.3M, Disney’s Cruella with $71.3M, and F9 with $70.0M after only three days in release.
Through Sunday, Warner Bros. led all studios with $323.9M earned this year theatrically, followed by Universal at $148.8M, Paramount at $136.7M, Disney at $125.8M, Lionsgate at $69.3M, and Sony Pictures at $57.6M.
July looks likely to be the best month of the year so far at the box office, with titles including Disney’s Black Widow and Jungle Cruise, Warner Bros.’ Space Jam: A New Legacy, Universal’s The Boss Baby: Family Business, The Forever Purge and Old, Paramount’s Snake Eyes, Sony/Columbia’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, and Focus Features’ Stillwater.