Gower Street has raised its end of year estimate for Global Box Office in 2021. The estimate has been revised up to $21.6 billion, from a previous estimate of $20.2 billion. Further we anticipate a potential additional upside that could see the current year finish around $22 billion globally.

The $21.6 billion estimate would put 2021 80% ahead of 2020, but still 49% behind 2019’s record global tally. This is the final estimate Gower Street plans to publish for 2021 before actuals are announced in early January.

The sunburst graph (below), shows approximately how Gower Street expects the estimated end of year to be split amongst key regions and major markets. When compared to 2020 actuals, there is a clear gain in Asia Pacific (APAC), mainly to the detriment of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The market share of global box office represented by the Domestic (down from 21.8% to 21.6%) and Latin American (down from 4.9% to 4.6%) regions is expected to remain relatively unchanged between 2020 and 2021. In contrast, APAC is expected to expand its market share from just over 50% in 2020 to 52.2% in 2021. EMEA drops from 23.1% to 21.6%.

However, this APAC gain is entirely due to China, which has made its own further encroachment within the APAC region, with a reduced market share of worldwide box office in the region’s other key markets: Japan, South Korea, and Australia. China is expected to represent nearly 34% of the global box office in 2021, compared to just over 28% in 2020. Japan, meanwhile, sees its market share halve from 12.2% to just 6%. Korea drops from 4.1% to 2.4%, and Australia from 2.7% to 2.1%.

In EMEA, UK/Ireland is expected to represent 3.7% of global market share, down from 4.2% in 2020. However, the market will regain it’s position as the fourth biggest global box office market, behind China, Domestic and Japan, having been beaten by France in 2020. France is anticipated to fall back to 2.8% from 4.4% in 2020.

The $1.4 billion gain to the global prediction since our previous estimate, which was based on 8 months of actuals and estimates for the final four months of the year, is primarily due to the blockbuster boost brought about by October. The combined successes of China’s Golden Week holiday, led by THE BATTLE OF LAKE CHANGJIN; James Bond title NO TIME TO DIE; and Marvel anti-hero sequel VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE ramped up cinema-going around the world.

The first week of October, which brings Golden Week – traditionally China’s second biggest holiday week of the year after Chinese New Year, returned China to a top quartile level of pre-pandemic business – the Stage 5 “full recovery” level of Gower Street’s Blueprint To Recovery for the first time in over four months. Likewise the same week’s opening of the VENOM sequel in Russia returned that market to its Stage 5 level. Meanwhile the long-awaited launch of NO TIME TO DIE boosted UK/Ireland, Germany and Austria to achieve their own Stage 5 targets for the first time since the pandemic began. Both UK/Ireland and Germany delivered their second biggest week of the pandemic in the succeeding play-week.

Overall, our global estimate for October has risen nearly 30% from an original estimate of $2.5 billion to $3.2 billion. This would put October business just 4% behind the average of the three pre-pandemic years (2017-2019) for the month. No previous month in 2021 has performed better than 40% behind the three-year average. A significant portion of that gain came from China, which is predicted to gross 41% ahead of the three-year average for October having tracked well below the three-year average for the previous four months.

September was slightly ahead of our estimates. For our previous estimate we had anticipated a $1.3 billion worldwide box office for September, 49% behind the pre-pandemic 3-year average. In actuality September finished just 41% behind the average with $1.5 billion worldwide (February, boosted by a record Chinese New Year, was also 41% behind). While the Domestic market did not perform quite as strongly as we had anticipated ($380m versus a projected $430m), the Chinese and International markets performed ahead of expectations.

China finishing approximately $80 million ahead of estimates and the international market (excluding China) approximately $165 million ahead. After several months virtually without import titles the August 27 release of FREE GUY in China delivered in the market, with the film taking over $62 million of its $94 million Chinese box office within September and only narrowly missing out on leading the month behind local mid-month release CLOUDY MOUNTAIN ($63.7m). There was also a last-minute bonus in the form of the September 30 releases of key Golden Week titles THE BATTLE OF LAKE CHANGJIN and MY COUNTRY, MY PARENTS, which together delivered $45.7 million before the October 1 official start of Golden Week.

The international gain came primarily from the performances of Marvel’s SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, which has narrowly outperformed 2021’s earlier MCU title BLACK WIDOW internationally, and a strong start, especially across Europe, for Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE. In both France and Italy, DUNE is the #1 film of the pandemic-era with 2.7 million admissions recorded to date in France and a box office of €6.95 million ($8.1m) in Italy. It is the second biggest import release during the pandemic in Russia, having since been overtaken by VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE, and the third in Germany. The film has continued to role out internationally in October, and is now director Denis Villeneuve’s biggest international hit, having overtaken BLADE RUNNER 2049.

Gower Street’s year-end calculation combines global box office actuals, provided by our partners at Comscore Movies, with monthly forward-projections by market based on our predictive box office service FORECAST and analyst assessment. All projection figures are based on the current release calendar.