With Comscore reporting U.S. box office revenue down 3.6% for 2019 – the sharpest decline in 5 years – it’s no surprise that industry insiders are whispering about a gloomy road ahead for the movie theatre industry in 2020. It’s one that seems plagued not only by the lack of a Star Wars entry but also by the continued success of established streaming services and the emergence of new ones.
But, like any well-crafted screenplay, there is so much more story to consider when it comes to predicting how 2020 will playout for the industry.
First, it’s worth noting that despite domestic declines, 2019 was a record-breaking year for the global box office, cashing in at an all-time high of $42.5 billion. Then, let’s not forget that 2018 tipped the scales by becoming a record-breaking year for the domestic box office after several years of declines. This was thanks to a library of hits from powerhouses like Disney and Warner Brothers, as well as box office surprises like Paramount’s A Quiet Place.
The surprises continued into 2019, with Joker becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all-time and stronger-than-anticipated revenue from smaller, yet critically acclaimed films such as Little Women and Uncut Gems. And, all of this happened while streaming services like Netflix continued to flourish and new power players, like Disney+, emerged.
Now that we have a stronger backstory, what does this tell us about what to expect for the movie theatre industry in 2020? Here are our top three predictions for the year ahead and – as you will see – there are opportunities for theatre owners to grow their business in the year ahead.
1. Highly-Anticipated Franchise Entries Will Drive Box Office Revenue
It may be hard to believe, but there will be box office life after The Avengers and Star Wars. In fact, there are several blockbusters lined up for 2020 that we expect to drive strong critical reception and ticket sales:
- Daniel Craig returns for his fifth and final run as James Bond in No Time to Die, opening wide on April 8th. Not only do we expect fans to turn out to see Mr. Craig’s final performance, but we also suspect that the addition of Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge to the writing team will help attract a new group of moviegoers to the latest 007 installment.
- Marvel seems to know how to deliver superhero film magic better than most, and on May 1st they will give Black Widow fans what they’ve been longing for when the beloved character takes center stage in her first solo film. With Scarlett Johansson fresh off a strong awards season for her work in both A Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit, her acting chops may very well attract a new group of fans to this story.
- 2017’s Wonder Woman was nothing short of a cinematic phenomenon. It brought in more than $820 million worldwide and catapulted Gal Gadot into a household name. While other DC films have failed to live up to its critical success, fans have been waiting eagerly for June 5th, 2020, when Wonder Woman 1984 opens wide. And with Patty Jenkins at the helm, this sequel is poised to be the highest-grossing film ever directed by a woman.
2. Great Storytelling Will Continue to Win
It seems like every year we look back on the smaller films that surprised us with their critical and box office success. Take 2019’s Uncut Gems for example. Even with a powerhouse lead with Adam Sandler, the independent film’s small budget and lack of a traditional Sandler-Esque plot left it with limited initial distribution and marketing. Still, it went on to exceed box office expectations and to become the highest-grossing film for its independent distributor, A24.
What does this tell us when it comes to 2020? Never underestimate the power of a dark horse! Word of mouth from great storytelling will always be the most powerful marketing tool for films, and it will always drive people to the theatre.
3. Theatre Experience Will Matter More Than Ever
We can’t talk about the movie theatre industry in 2020 without mentioning the dreaded two-word combination: Streaming Services. Yes, they have disrupted the entertainment industry by offering people a new and convenient way to consume content. But studies have shown that the relationship between streaming and movie theatres is actually a symbiotic one in that individuals who consume content via streaming are actually more likely to go to the movies. In other words, streamers are movie buffs!
Even so, these movie buffs need a good reason to leave the comforts of their homes for their local theaters. That reason? Experience.
According to Inc., over the past few years, the U.S. has witnessed a tectonic shift in spending with 4x more spending devoted to experiences rather than physical goods. For movie theatre owners, this means that transforming auditoriums into full-sensory moviegoing experiences is more important than ever. With luxurious amenities like reclining seats and in-seat ordering, many theatres across the globe are experiencing significant attendance and revenue increase through enhanced experiences.
Need a little help elevating your theatre experience? We can help. Contact us today for a free custom consultation.
We’re not sure about you, but we are feeling pretty optimistic about the year ahead of us. Yes, there are significant challenges ahead but we remain dedicated to innovation and delivering the best experiences. And, we will always be proud to be part of an industry that gets to bring the magic of the movies to people across the globe every single day.