It’s been a long time coming but the market share of open movie theaters around the world has surpassed 80% for the first time since the Coronavirus pandemic began. The Stage 1 (and only non-box office) target of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery posits that 80% of theaters by market share would need to re-open to deliver a sustainable recovery. That never occurred in 2020, with the number topping out at 79% during the first play-week in October before falling back. After long closures across the winter and spring months in many markets the numbers have once again been rising in recent months. The market share of open cinemas globally returned to 79% for the June 4 weekend and just a week later the elusive 80% target has been achieved for the June 11 weekend.
According to the latest analysis from Gower Street’s Road To Recovery report, based on operating site data from our partners at Comscore Movies, 80.2% of global cinemas were in operation for the June 11 weekend – one ruled over globally by horror sequels THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT ($33.7m) and A QUIET PLACE, PART II ($28m).
All key regions saw expansion in the past week with the biggest individual market contribution coming in Australia. Australia saw its market share of open cinemas rise by 24 percentage points from 73% a week ago to 97% this past weekend (an actual rise of 33%). This helped take the Asia Pacific region back over the 80% threshold having fallen below it in recent weeks.
Other territories enjoying notable expansion this past weekend included Singapore (up 8.7 percentage points week-on-week), Netherlands (+5.8), UK/Ireland (up 5.6 percentage points, boosted by the re-opening of venues in Ireland), Argentina (+4.3), Brazil (+3.9), and the Domestic market (+1.5).
The Domestic market now stands at 77% of theaters open by market share – the highest level it has reached in the pandemic era. The EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region currently stands at 76%, having topped the 80% threshold (reaching 89% in early October) last year before falling back due to renewed winter closures that remained largely in place throughout the spring. The Latin American region currently stands at 63%, just shy of matching its pandemic-era peak of 64% recorded in December.
Gower Street measures the current market share of open theaters by conferring on each theater a portion of its individual market based on historic market share from box office of the last two pre-pandemic years (2018-2019). This enables us to measure the true value to recovery of each theater’s re-opening in each individual market, regionally and globally.
The closure of Chinese cinemas in late January 2020 was the first sign of the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the cinema industry. The key international market’s shutdown left 80% of global cinemas still operating but six weeks other markets started to follow. Italy was first, announcing the closure of all theaters from March 8, 2020. Three days later the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a pandemic. The mass closure of theaters around the round swiftly followed, first in Western Europe and then elsewhere. By April 5, 2020 less than 1% (0.98%) of the more than 54,000 individual cinemas worldwide reporting results to Comscore at its pre-pandemic 2020 peak (on Jan. 19 of that year).
Recovery has been slow and far from steady with re-closures following re-openings in most markets; more than once in many. Some individual markets have returned to over 80% (by market share) of cinemas operating instantaneously (e.g. France, Netherlands), while others have built slowly with the target still eluding many (including the Domestic market).
Only four markets have achieved all five (including four based on box office) stages of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery, indicating full recovery, but only two of those (China and Russia) have maintained it with Japan and Taiwan subject to further closures following rising cases, essentially re-setting their roads to recovery.
The Domestic and UK/Ireland markets finally achieved their Stage 3 targets in the May 28 play-week. Panama is the latest market to hit Stage 3 in its June 3 play-week, thanks to the power (seen across the Latin American region) of THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT (the horror sequel also fueled pandemic-era best play-weeks in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador).
Recovery progress across 30 global markets can be tracked weekly in Gower Street’s Road To Recovery reports, available via subscription here.
More detail about Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery markers is available here.