If you are wondering what the bottom-line effect of the over-hyped coronavirus pandemic has been on movie theaters, Comscore has come up with their estimated domestic box office numbers for 2021 and we can compare them to the previous two years, 2020 in full pandemic mode and 2019 the last non-pandemic year. In 2019 the domestic box office brought in roughly $11.4 billion dollars. In 2020 that total dropped precipitously to only $2.28 billion, which is why we saw some many theaters closing and angry debates about day-and-date versus theatrical releases. 2020 had about 2 full months before the pandemic started shutting things down.
2021 has since rebounded pretty well, almost doubling the domestic take with $4.55 billion. This is slightly under the $5.2 billion that Adam Aron of AMC projected, but his calculations were done back when Top Gun: Maverick was still slated in November and both Eternals and No Time to Die were expected to do better.
In speaking to Deadline, the Managing Director of MKM Partners said: “The pace of the recovering is occurring at a slower than anticipated pace. But the recovery will continue. Part of the problem is there’s just fewer films; the whole middle market is gone, but tentpoles will continue to improve.” To back up that point, almost 1.4 billion of the domestic total came from the six Marvel/Sony films: Spider-Man: No Way Home, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Black Widow, and Eternals. So, as of right now, it’s superheroes that are keeping the theaters open.
It also didn’t help that many hyped up films like Eternals actually sucked, so not all superhero films are equal.