With a shiny New Year ahead, a lot of attention is turning to the state of the 2023 Box Office. While we saw a strong recovery in parts of 2022, a lack of continual product and the knock-on effects of the pandemic shutdowns did lead to a lower total than some were hoping for. But with 33 strong tentpoles on the cards for 2023, many experts believe we could see 2023’s Box Office hit $9B. Entertainment lawyer and local expert, Brandon Blake of Blake & Wang P.A, offers some keen insight.
The 2022 Story
While we’ve yet to see a finalized figure- it is early days still- the 2022 Box Office is expected to cap out in the $7.4V range. It’s over 70% more than 2021’s limp-wristed $4.3B- but if the $9B projections for 2023 come true, it will be a further 22% jump on this year.
Of course, it will still fall short of 2019’s $11.3B target, but is talking about the pre-pandemic era even a meaningful conversation at present? We’re seeing considerably more confidence going into the 2023 period, from exhibition entities and studios alike, and this should also be the year we see that COVID backlog fall away for good, and that can only be good for the industry overall.
The Key 33
This year we see a slate of 33 movies which are predicted to at least cross the $100M threshold- building on 29 in 2019, 18 in 2022, and 13 in 2021. We also see at least 100 wide released for the theatrical calendar this year. Industry experts peg the magic number at 120- 2019 had 143. While we’re not quite there, at least we’re closing in.
However, there’s one category of film we’re still missing. Non -genre (ie, not horror/sci-fi/action) original movies. Nor does this specifically have to cover high-brow awards fare or artsy indie titles. Part of this stems from a perception in the industry that these movies have lost their audience- yet they are also the ‘meat and potatoes’ of getting adult audiences to count cinema visits as a regular part of the calendar. Glass Onion fell somewhat in this category, and did well for Netflix in cinemas, but they’re still talking about theatrical releases as ‘marketing’ and not a mainstay. Add Elvis and The Lost City to that bag, with a nod to Where the Crawdads Sing, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Woman King, and so on, and it’s clear the audience isn’t all that dead.
So there’s something of a chicken-and-egg scenario. These films aren’t being made on a large scale, because the audience ‘isn’t there’, but the audience will never return if the films aren’t there. In reality, the fault more likely lies in rushed 17 day windows for these films with reduced marketing spend, all in the hopes of firing them onto PVOD as fast as possible. With the abrupt about-turn we saw on the failed day-and-date model, and an increasing realization of the benefit of combined strategies, maybe we will see that reevaluated in 2023.
Either way, at least the Box Office in general is still trending up for the year. Here’s hoping we meet those benchmarks- and more.