Signs of box office recovery continue to be seen around the world, with the number of markets hitting the Stage 2 target of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery steadily increasing. Two weeks ago it was UAE achieving the goal, then Portugal; this past weekend saw Australia as well as multiple Canadian provinces hit their targets. The Australian result is particularly notable, having been achieved in a manner different to any other market so far.

The Stage 2 target (the first box office goal on our Blueprint To Recovery) requires a daily box office equivalent to the previous lowest day of box office from the previous two years. While this may seem a low target it is one that Gower Street considers a “base day”, demonstrating a core audience ready and willing to return to cinemas. In some markets (Netherlands, France, China) this has been achieved almost immediately upon re-opening, thanks to a high percentage of available sites returning. In others (UAE, Portugal) it has taken a longer run-in to achieve as more sites have gradually re-opened, more titles have been on offer, and confidence has built.

For Australia to achieve its Stage 2 target (see Australian Growth Trackers above) it needed to generate a single day box office of just over A$876k. This was finally achieved on Saturday, August 15. Traditional cinemas began to re-open in June, with the market share of open theaters just getting into double figures at the end of that month. In the first week of July this saw a huge bump, with 83% of cinemas open by market share on July 4 (from 62% of physical locations open, according to our partner at Comscore Movies). The July 4 Saturday came very close to hitting the Stage 2 target with A$871k (99.5% of the goal) with THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD topping the chart in its opening week.

However, re-imposed restrictions for Melbourne from July 9 dropped the cinema figures. Since then the market share of available cinemas has sat at a mid-60% level (64% this week, from 54% of sites open).

It is therefore all the more impressive that, with those circumstances unchanged, the market has grown its box office to achieve the target. This has occurred thanks to a build up of releases providing vibrant choice. UNHINGED, with home-grown star Russell Crowe in the lead, remained top of the chart in week 3, but that film alone had not been enough to hit the target. The Saturday of UNHINGED’s opening (with faith-based drama THE SECRET: DARE TO DREAM providing support) achieved 94.7% of the target. The following Saturday (with UNHINGED down just 5% from its first Saturday, THE SECRET up 18% and TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS PENINSULA in previews), results came the closest they had been (99.8% of the target).

This week saw UNHINGED combine with a re-release of the original 1977 STAR WARS and a trio of new openers (Liam Neeson comedy-drama MADE IN ITALY; action title FORCE OF NATURE, starring Mel Gibson; and Korean hit PENINSULA) to make up the top five. French comedy LA BELLE EPOQUE and the 10th anniversary re-release of INCEPTION were also on hand to provide new-launch support. The range of titles available offered options for a variety of audiences. This resulted is a A$929k Saturday, easily beating the target.

This is the first time we have seen the Stage 2 target achieved in a market through a consolidation of titles rather than based primarily on a boost brought by either a single major title or an influx of re-opening cinemas. It shows that it is possible, through a pipeline of new releases, to build a market back to these stages of recovery without necessarily relying on one big event. This is especially good news for those markets that lack a strong pipeline of local productions (enjoyed in markets like South Korea and France).

UNHINGED was also at the forefront of latest success in Canada. The Canadian market delivered an astonishing 27% market share of the entire Domestic market for the August 14-16 weekend, according to Comscore. This was fueled by three new openers led by THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE ON THE RUN, UNHINGED and Canadian comedy MON CIRQUE A MOI. The number of open cinemas by market share increased in every reporting province, with the sparsely populated Northwest Territories re-opening theaters for the first time since lockdown. This resulted in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as Northwest Territories, achieving their Stage 2 targets.

Growth Trackers for these Canadian provinces, as well as other provinces, all 50 US states and 30 global territories, can be seen in our latest Road To Recovery reports. Access a free trial here.