The rise and fall of the post-pandemic Box Office recovery has been a rocky road indeed. However, while we likely still won’t see a full return to pre-pandemic norms this year, with the runaway success of the Mario Bros movie, things are looking a whole lot better. Brandon Blake, our resident entertainment lawyer from Blake & Wang P.A, shares the good news.

Forecast Adjustment

The general estimate for the 2023 Box Office takings was tracking at a predicted $29B at the start of the year. Top analysts have now revised that to $32B in ticket sales, bringing an upbeat mood with it. We do still hit the ‘release wall’ this year, with the sheer volume of movies opening with a theatrical slate not yet back at pre-pandemic levels. Until we hit that benchmark, too, a true ‘recovery’ cannot be had. But as progress goes? This is looking great.

2022 saw the Box Office come in at $26B, so even the previously predicted figures were looking solid. This represented a 23% increase on 2021 figures ($21.3B). If the predicted new benchmark is met, we will again see a massive 23% jump in the right direction. A decided improvement on the rather flat earlier estimates. For now, the target remains a juicy $42B, the takings from the last full year before the COVID-19 closures, before we can declare a true recovery underway.

Super Mario Power

Thanks for the new, more optimistic figure can be laid squarely at the door of the Super Mario Bros movie. A near-unprecedented success for both Universal and Illumination, the movie has blasted past anticipated revenue numbers, shattering records along the way and still performing well even well into its third week. It’s currently predicted to be the first film of 2023 to reach the $1B global sales mark, too.

However, it’s not all down to the most famous Italian plumbers and their antics. John Wick: Chapter 4 is another success story we can’t ignore, far outperforming original predictions. Likewise Creed 3 and Scream 7 have surpassed expectations. More proof, if needed, that the public are keen to return to the theatrical movie experience. Evil Dead Rise is expected to join their ranks, at least based on its opening weekend.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing- one need only look at the resounding failure of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to even clear the $500M mark to see how counting your chickens before they hatch can backfire in the entertainment industry. In fact, the entirety of Q1’s movie slate turned in mediocre-at-best performances. However, the new pep in Q2’s step is certainly something to celebrate. With the additional news that both Apple and Amazon, traditionally reluctant to invest in theatrical releases, will be focusing on pumping content through the Box Office pipeline this year and onward, things are definitely looking up. There’s also a (hesitant and lukewarm) resurgence of the Chinese market to consider. In 2022, it accounted for a rather meager $4.3B, but that is predicted to rise to just short of $7B for international releases this year.

We’ve been caught out with premature celebrations before, but one thing is certain- theatrical releases are far from dead, and with both strong demand and fantastic responses in the bag, let’s hope the recovery momentum continues to grow throughout the year.