Global Box Office Revenues Rise in 2021, but Remain Well Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

April 7, 2022

Total global box office revenues grew to $21.3 billion last year, a more than 80% rise over the $11.8 billion from 2020. This is according to the most recent THEME Report [pdf] from the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which covers global activity in 2021.

The growth in global box office revenues came from both the international (non-North American) and US/Canadian markets. The former climbed by about 75% to $16.8 billion, while the latter roughly doubled from $2.2 to $4.5 billion. As a result, the US/Canadian market accounted for 21% of global box office revenues last year, up slightly from 19% the year prior but below the 27% from 2019’s pre-pandemic halcyon days.

Indeed, despite the strong rebound last year, global box office revenues – at $21.3 billion – were about half of what they were in 2019 ($42.3 billion). Within the US, PwC doesn’t expect box office revenues to near 2019 levels until at least 2025.

Last year’s growth was witnessed across the international regions. The Asia-Pacific region – the largest of the international markets – experienced an above-average 89% year-over-year (y-o-y) increase, from $5.8 billion to $10.9 billion. It has also seen the smallest overall decrease when comparing 2021 figures to 2017 (-32%).

Latin American box office revenues, which experienced a 72% increase from 2020 to 2021 (to $0.9 billion), have still been affected the most, with 2021’s levels just one-quarter of what they were in 2017. And in Europe, which had the smallest increase in box office revenues last year (+53%), the 2021 total was about half that of 2017.

Going to the Movies

Within the US and Canada, there were 0.47 billion admissions last year, reports the MPA, equating to 1.3 per capita. While about twice that of 2020 (0.24 billion), the 0.47 billion admissions was far below that of a decade or so earlier, with 1.36 billion in 2012.

The report notes that close to half (47%) of the 2+ population in the US and Canada went to the movies at the cinema at least once last year, about the same as in 2020 but down from three-quarters (76%) of the population pre-pandemic. The typical moviegoer purchased almost 3 tickets (2.8) on average last year, up from 1.5 in 2020. Frequent moviegoers (those who attended at least once a month) comprised just 3% of the population, but were responsible for a hefty 34% of all tickets sold.

Men tended to be more keen on this entertainment activity last year, representing 53% of moviegoers and 59% of tickets sold, compared to 49% of the population. When sorting by age, the 25-39 age group stands out: while representing 21% of the population, this age bracket accounted for 26% of moviegoers and 29% of tickets sold.

Finally, the Hispanic/Latino population was over-represented in moviegoing, at 24% of moviegoers and 23% of tickets sold, versus 19% of the population.

The full report can be viewed here.

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