With 2021 just a couple of weeks and a few blockbusters short of the finishing line, Gower Street decided to take a look ahead to what’s on the horizon for next year. After a much stronger box office year with exhibitors, distributors and audiences becoming more comfortable in a Covid-world can we expect even better things in 2022? Will business be back to pre-pandemic norms?

Gower Street Analytics estimates 2022 Global Box Office will reach $33.2 billion.

Gower Street’s first Global Box Office prediction for 2022 suggests a significant improvement over 2021. The $33.2 billion projection would represent a 58% gain over the current year if 2021 remains on course for an approximate $21 billion global box office (Gower Street measures it stood at $19.2 billion as of December 11, with several major titles, including this week’s SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME still to come). 2021 has itself seen a major (approximately 75%) increase over 2020.

This projection, calculated utilizing data from Gower Street’s flagship FORECAST service, is based on the existing release calendar. It should be noted that this is a very early prediction and Gower Street would expect to see further changes to the release calendar, including additional title announcements, result in some fluctuation. It also currently assumes a largely open marketplace, avoiding additional shutdowns.

If the projection holds it would suggest the industry will need to wait until at least 2023 to see a full return to pre-pandemic global box office levels of over $40 billion. Our 2022 forecast is still 20% behind the average of the three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019) – see graph above.

The Domestic, Chinese and International markets are all projected to see improvement. However, the most notable gain is expected to be seen in the Domestic market, which is projected to regain its pre-pandemic position as the #1 global box office market in 2022, having been overtaken by China in both 2020 and 2021. Of course, with a lesser known advance release calendar and with uncertainty following the lack of release for many recent major Hollywood titles, China is arguably the market that is hardest to predict.

With some markets reinstalling restrictions in the face of rising Covid cases and the newly-discovered Omicron variant, Gower Street currently expects the first quarter to be the most challenging of 2022 with January and March, moving into April, expected to see the biggest monthly deficit against the pre-pandemic three-year average (February is spared in part due to Chinese New Year – which falls on February 1 in 2022).

The release calendar for 2022 contains many heavyweight contenders for the crown, including the first in James Cameron’s sequels to the highest grossing film of all-time AVATAR. There are a wealth of superhero titles from Disney/Marvel (DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER), Sony/Marvel (MORBIUS, the animated SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE PART ONE), and Warner/DC (THE BATMAN, BLACK ADAM, THE FLASH, AQUAMAN 2). Disney-Pixar will offer up both LIGHTYEAR and TURNING RED, while Universal-Illumination’s mega-DESPICABLE ME franchise returns with MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU and Universal-DreamWorks’ SHREK spin-off PUSS IN BOOTS is set for a new adventure. Both the JURASSIC WORLD and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchises are preparing to stomp the box office once again, while Tom Cruise will also be looking to fly high in the long-awaited TOP GUN: MAVERICK. New instalments in other hit franchises including FANTASTIC BEASTS, JOHN WICK, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, DOWNTON ABBEY, HALLOWEEN, CREED and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, are also all set to entice audiences. And this is before we get to an exciting roster of non-sequel offerings including new titles from Jordan Peele, Baz Luhrmann, David Leitch, Roland Emmerich, Ruben Fleischer, Scott Derrickson, Kasi Lemmons, David O. Russell and many more.