Global Box Office Reaches Record $42.5B in 2019

Amid fears of competition from streaming and other media, worldwide box office revenues reached a new global record last year with $42.5B, Comscore reported Friday.

Box office was down 4% domestically in 2019, finishing the year with $11.4 billion. It represents the second-biggest domestic year on record, unadjusted for inflation. 2019’s ostensible decline was mostly the bad luck of arriving after the prior year’s record $11.9B haul, which was always going to be hard to match.

Eight films from 2019 have reached the billion-dollar mark globally, led by Disney’s Avengers: Endgame with $2.79B. Also reaching that milestone were:

  • Disney’s The Lion King with $1.65B
  • Disney’s Frozen 2 with $1.32B and counting
  • Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home with $1.13B
  • Disney’s Captain Marvel with $1.12B
  • Disney’s Toy Story 4 with $1.07B
  • Warner Bros.’ Joker with $1.06B and counting
  • Disney’s Aladdin with $1.05B

Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker currently stands at $952B globally, likely to surpass $1B this weekend. December 2018’s Aquaman also crossed $1B in early 2019.

But it wasn’t just the largest films that did well. Films grossing over $100M constituted virtually the same percentage of the domestic box office this year as last year: 63.8% versus 63.9%.

So despite fears, the biggest blockbusters aren’t necessarily consuming an ever-larger share of the marketplace. Films that exceeded global box office expectations without superheroes or many visual effects in 2019 included:

  • Sony’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with $372.3M
  • Universal’s Us with $255.1M
  • Lionsgate’s Knives Out with $251.3M and counting
  • Parasite with $131.3M and counting

“Through every challenge, through every new technology innovation over the last twenty years, theatrical admissions have been stable and box office has consistently grown,” said NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) President and CEO John Fithian said in a statement. “We look forward to 2020 when a wider range of studios and filmmakers offer
audiences more opportunities for even more moviegoing.”

“As we knew all year, despite a really large deficit in the first quarter, 2019 was a strong year for movie theaters and moviegoing, as we roared back with the second-highest box office ever,” NATO Chairman Ellis Jacob said in a statement. “A vigorous year-end period will carry over – note this weekend’s wide expansion of 1917 – into a 2020 calendar packed with an even wider range of movie choices than we had in 2019.”

(Boxoffice PRO is the official magazine of the National Association of Theatre Owners.)

NATO will release official Q4 and full year admissions data later in the month. 

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