According to analysts, there is still a glimmer of hope for the cinema industry this year, despite dismal domestic box office sales and rising coronavirus cases.
The country’s two largest markets, New York City and Los Angeles, could give a much-needed boost to sick box office sales if they reopen before the end of 2020.
“A real box office restart may not be that far away,” said Eric Handler, MKM Partners media analyst who noted the miracle of Warner Bros. “Wonder Woman 1984” and Disney’s Agatha Christie “Death on the Nile.” are both still planned for December 2020 Premieres.
The analyst noted that both the Big Apple and the City of Angels are nearing meeting their respective state criteria for reopening cinemas. Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York allowed cinemas to reopen in the state this weekend. And media watchers expect NYC to fall narrowly behind as COVID-19 outbreak clusters shrink in places like Brooklyn and Queens. As Los Angeles struggles with rising cases, Handler said he was “hopeful that both cities can reopen through Thanksgiving.”
“A lot can happen in the next four to six weeks,” said the analyst. If these cities resume ticket sales, the box office forecasts for this year and 2021 could be “relaxed”.
Currently, about 90 percent of the US movie houses are open but operate at reduced capacity and are all outside of the highest revenue markets in the country. The domestic box office grossed around $ 1.95 billion this year, up from $ 11.32 billion in 2019, according to ticket seller Box Office Mojo.
The National Association of Theater Owners said when the big markets reopen, the box office could get a significant boost as studios release new films to attract people to the theater.
“New, highly anticipated films are coming to the box office,” said NATO representative Patrick Corcoran. “With big markets like NYC Open accounting for around 5 percent of the national box office, a big release like Wonder Woman will multiply the current box office many times over. But one film is not enough. “
Rich Greenfield, an analyst at LightShed Partners, expects Wonder Woman 1984, due to hit theaters on Christmas Day, to be released on Warner Bros.’s sister streaming service HBO Max instead.
Warner Bros. declined to comment on whether this option would be considered.
Greenfield said Warner Bros. learned from “Tenet,” the spy thriller it released during the pandemic a cautionary story. “Tenet,” which cost about $ 200 million to produce, grossed $ 52 million domestically and $ 289 million internationally, but was expected to bring in $ 800 million before the pandemic.
“It’s a little hard to imagine getting it out in theaters considering how Tenet did it,” said Greenfield, noting that the production of “Wonder Woman” was also around $ 200 million.
But Handler was quick to point out that putting the blockbuster on HBO Max isn’t a winning strategy either, as the studio has already had a huge hit with Tenet. He also noted that Disney was trying a similar streaming strategy “Mulan” on Disney +and lost a lot of money in the process.
While HBO Max is trying to grow its subscriber base, using Wonder Woman would be a “very, very expensive” way to do it.
“At the box office, Wonder Woman more than doubled what Tenet did,” he said. “Going to the cinema will generate going to the cinema. At the moment everyone is probably looking at the data from New York and LA. “