With Q1 over and Universal’s The movie Super Mario Bros. Delivering a triumphant start to the second quarter, Gower Street analysts have revised their first estimate of the $29 billion (€26.4 billion) worldwide box office for 2023 announced in December 2022. The updated projection represents a +10% improvement over the previous estimate.
The announcement comes as the global industry gathers in Las Vegas for CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), which runs April 24-27.
A global box office of $32 billion in 2023 would represent an improvement of around +23% compared to 2022. It remains -20% below an average of the last three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019), but shows how the film industry’s post-pandemic recovery continues to improve.
The US domestic market slightly underperformed Gower Street’s first-quarter projection (by -$100m), but a growing release schedule warranted a modest increase from its earlier full-year estimate of $400m. dollars to $9 billion.
China saw a larger increase, from $5.6 billion to $6.8 billion. After a disappointing 2022, early estimates for China remained cautious as the industry searches for more consistent signs of improvement. The market showed a stronger than expected first quarter recovery, including a very strong Chinese New Year period. However, there remain significant signs of concern. The numbers were again very low in March and although more US imports were released, these generally did not show the levels of box office success hoped for.
The increase to $6.8 billion brings China back to a level equivalent to 2021 (at current exchange rates), but the increase currently stems almost entirely (about 90%) from the extent to which the actual numbers of the first quarter exceeded estimates. As recovery forecasts for the market were already more optimistic for the rest of the year, and until the market shows a more consistent recovery, especially in import stocks, Gower Street maintains its Q2 estimates. at 4 relatively stable.
The international market (excluding China) increased by 10% (or $1.4 billion), from $14.8 billion to $16.2 billion. An important driver was a better than expected first quarter, led by the fantastic maintenance activity of Avatar: The Way of the Water. There was also support for a robust release schedule, local hits, and a number of non-US titles traveling far beyond their home markets (e.g. Japanese anime).
For the international market, January exceeded the initial estimate by +23%, February by +10% and March by +2%. This added about $400 million in additional international revenue in the first quarter compared to the December forecast. As in the domestic market, the release schedule also gained additional headlines later in the year, which also helped improve expectations for the rest of the year.
Additionally, about 13% of the global gain of $3 billion results from changes in exchange rates between December 2022 and the end of March 2023.
This projection, calculated using data from Gower Street’s flagship FORECAST service and analyst assessment, is based on the current release schedule.
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