After the COVID pandemic shuttered movie theatres in 2020 throughout Australia (not to mention around the world), the country’s box office plummeted by 67.3% over 2019 numbers. The market’s recovery began in 2021, growing 50% to AUD $605 million (USD $419.3 million). PwC’s annual Media and Entertainment Outlook report has now predicted the Australian cinema industry will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, reaching AUD $1.22 billion (USD $840 million).
PwC found “this optimism in the industry is shared by all major markets, with forecasted 2021- 2026 compound annual growth rates for Australia, the US, and UK all exceeding 6%.” The professional services and research firm Australian box office is recovering due to “the progressive rollout of new releases, and the innate ability of cinema to tap into consumers’ sense of nostalgia.”
The Australian exhibitors surveyed by PwC for their report report that “up to 90 percent of frequent moviegoers have been back, albeit on a less frequent basis.” When moviegoers return to cinemas, theatre operators have noticed and increase in food and beverage spend per head above pre-pandemic levels. Like the cinema market in other international territories, Australia seems to be struggling to bring back lower frequency patrons and older audiences. Similarly, PwC sees the same trend toward “premiumisation” of movie theatres in Australia that they have recorded in other countries, with audiences “wanting both the content and experience quality to be worth their while.”