Global Box Office Down 71% in 2020, China Supplants North America as Top Market

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The global box office suffered a steep 71% decline in 2020, the largest year-over-year drop on record, stemming from the disastrous impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ComScore is reporting a $12.2 billion tally in global ticket sales at cinemas worldwide in 2020. The decline comes after three consecutive years where the global cinema industry registered over $40 billion in admissions.

China emerged as the world’s leading box office market in 2020, finishing the year with $3.1 billion in ticket sales––representing a quarter of the global tally––after being the first market to contend with the virus and the economic shutdowns that came with it. Despite the record, China’s box office was down by 66% year-over-year following the peak of $9.2 billion it hit in 2019. Despite the pandemic, China’s 2020 box office was higher than its 2012 total of $2.7 billion, reflecting the market’s rapid ascent over the last decade.

The North American market––referred to as the “Domestic” market in trade publications, consisting of the United States and Canada––finished the year with $2.25 billion in box office, the bulk of that figure coming from a largely uninterrupted first quarter in 2020. Ticket sales declined drastically across the U.S. and Canada once the pandemic took hold, however, culminating in an 80% year-over-year drop when compared to 2019’s $11.4 billion. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, cinemas in North America had crossed the $11 billion mark in annual ticket sales for five consecutive years––reaching a peak of $11.9 billion in 2018. Once the dominant market at the global level, North America only represented 18.4% of the overall box office in 2020.

YearNorth America% Of GlobalInternational% Of GlobalChinaChina % Of
International
China % Of
Global
Global Total
2020$2,250,000,00018.4%$9,950,000,00081.6%$3,100,000,00031.2%25.4%$12,200,000,000
2019$11,400,000,00026.8%$31,100,000,00073.2%$9,200,000,00029.6%21.6%$42,500,000,000
2018$11,900,000,00028.5%$29,900,000,00071.5%$8,790,000,00029.4%21.0%$41,800,000,000
2017$11,100,000,00027.1%$29,800,000,00072.9%$8,330,000,00028.0%20.4%$40,900,000,000
2016$11,400,000,00029.0%$27,900,000,00071.0%$6,870,000,00024.6%17.5%$39,300,000,000
2015$11,100,000,00028.4%$28,000,000,00071.6%$7,070,000,00025.3%18.1%$39,100,000,000
2014$10,400,000,00028.6%$26,000,000,00071.4%$4,820,000,00018.5%13.2%$36,400,000,000
2013$10,900,000,00030.4%$25,000,000,00069.6%$3,640,000,00014.6%10.1%$35,900,000,000
2012$10,800,000,00031.1%$23,900,000,00068.9%$2,740,000,00011.5%7.9%$34,700,000,000
Data Courtesy ComScore

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