Jan 15, 2022 - Economy & Business

Box office sales bounce back in 2021, but trail 2019 numbers

A sign that reads, "Thank you for social distancing" is seen by the box office at AMC Lincoln Square 13 on March 05, 2021 in New York City.

Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage

Box offices in the U.S. earned $4.5 billion during 2021, a 101% increase from 2020 sales but still nearly 60% less than what they made in 2019, CNN reports citing Comscore.

The big picture: Analysts don't expect the box office to recover meaningfully until 2022 despite blockbuster hits like "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

  • "2022 is when we can start to assess what we've learned over the past many months and then perhaps make bold statements about the future of the industry," Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Axios in September.

Details: Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNN that 2022 could be a better year for the box office given the slate of new releases coming, though it's ultimately up to movie theaters and what they offer the public.

  • Marvel, the biggest blockbuster brand, is set to release "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness," "Thor: Love and Thunder" and "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" in 2022.
  • Horror films such as Jordan Peele's "Nope" and action films like "Top Gun: Maverick" with Tom Cruise will also be released in 2022.

Yes, but: Online movie streaming also became popular over the pandemic and some of the films released this year may also send movies to streaming services to boost sales, per CNN.

  • When the box office gets back to its peak of $40 billion like it did in 2019 will be determined by "the overall consumer base" who "will continue to be abnormally divided between those going back, those wanting to go back, and those who won't go back nearly as often as they used to," Robbins said, per CNN.
Go deeper