Research firm Comscore said in an end-of-year report on Tuesday that the North American box office grossed $ 2.2 billion in 2020, compared to $ 11.4 billion in 2019.
2020 revenue was a nearly 40-year low, according to historical data from Box Office Mojo. The lowest previous North American box office revenue setting was in 1981, when it totaled $ 918 million in a year when Superman II was the biggest movie.
Comscore didn’t release global data for 2020, but Variety said global returns plummeted 71%.
The pandemic forced theaters around the world to close in mid-March and brought some chains, large and small, like AMC Entertainment to the brink of bankruptcy. The theaters in the largest US markets of Los Angeles and New York City have yet to reopen.
274 films – including blockbusters like No Time to Die, Top Gun: Maverick and the ninth action film Fast and Furious – have been postponed to the 2021 release dates, according to the Comscore report.
That made Sony Pictures Cop Caper Bad Boys for Life, which was released in January last year, the highest-earning film in North America for 2020 with $ 206 million. In 2019, Avengers: Endgame ruled the domestic box office for $ 858 million.
Warner Bros’ thriller Tenet, which aimed to lure moviegoers back to theaters this summer, grossed just $ 58 million in the US and Canada.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said 2020 revenue – much of it from drive-in venues – was cause for hope as some industry watchers feared the number would be even lower.
“That should be extremely encouraging to anyone who fears the film won’t return at all,” said Dergarabedian.