As 2020 winds to a close, the devastation wrought on the global box office by the COVID-19 crisis becomes only more evident. Gower Street estimates global box office to have lost $26.2 billion compared to an average of the past three years up to December 6. By the close of the year this figure is likely to stand around $29-30 billion.
How do titles released stack up on a global basis? This week we take a look at how 2020’s top performing titles compare to those of 2019. The “WW 2019” image (below left) displays the top 100 global performers released in 2019 tracking left to right and top to bottom, from AVENGERS: ENDGAME at #1 with $2.8 billion (top left) to horror MA at #100 with $61.2 million (bottom right).
The comparative “WW 2020” image (below right) shows the titles released in 2020 that (as of Dec. 6) have achieved a global box office performance equivalent to those of 2019. Each 2020 title is placed in the position that its global box office corresponds to in the 2019 image.
To explore the images more closely you can access downloadable hi-res versions of both. This will enable you to zoom in to see data on each title with Domestic, International and Global box office displayed beneath each individual poster image.
You can access the 2019 image here.
The sheer amount of black space tells a clear story. As of December 6 only 17 titles released in 2020 have achieved grosses that would have scored them a position in the top 100 global titles the previous year.
No title has achieved a gross equivalent to a top 15 title of 2019. Of course, 2019 was a record-breaking year with an astonishing nine $1 billion+ global grossers.
The top performing title of 2020 is China’s THE EIGHT HUNDRED ($440m), coming in at a position approximately equivalent to #18 on the 2019 table. To put this in, what would now seem a bizarre, context there was more than one $400 million+ global grossing film in 2019 that was branded a disappointment in the press. What a difference a year, and a global pandemic, has made.
This year marks the first time on record that a non-US title has achieved the global #1 position. But even this is a far cry from the top earning Chinese titles of 2019 NE ZHA ($728m) and THE WANDERING EARTH ($700m) – neither of which made the global top 10 in 2019.
The top performing US title has been the pre-pandemic release of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE with $427 million. It is followed in a ‘2019 top 20 equivalent’ position by China’s MY PEOPLE, MY HOMELAND, also topping $400 million.
Both THE EIGHT HUNDRED and MY PEOPLE, MY HOMELAND are post-lockdown releases. They are two of 10 titles displayed in the 2020 image that have been released post-lockdown. Seven of them are Chinese titles, further demonstrating the newly-crowned #1 global market’s success in rejuvinating consumer confidence in returning to cinemas after a full six-month shutdown from late January to late July.
Of the remaining three post lockdown titles featured one is MULAN where the lion’s share of its $67 million theatrical box office was delivered in China ($40m); while another is the Japanese mega-hit DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN. Unsurprisingly Christopher Nolan’s TENET, with $358 million to Dec. 6, is the best performing post-lockdown US title.
It should be noted that another title has now entered the 2020 image. THE CROODS: A NEW AGE had grossed $60.6 million globally to Dec. 6 putting it just outside the top 100 based on the 2019 chart, in an equivalent position to China’s MY BEST SUMMER ($60.8m). But the CROODS sequel has now hit a reported $76.3 million to Dec. 13, which would put it currently in a position equivalent to #87-88 in the 2019 top 100.
It is also feasibly a couple more titles may enter, most notably WONDER WOMAN 1984 which begins its international roll-out this coming week. Despite this potential it is most likely that 2020 will finish the year with no more than 20 titles delivering a box office equivalent to a top 100 title in 2019.
This article was originally published in Screendollars’ newsletter #147 (December 14, 2020).