Though we have highlighted our share of territories, like Italy, that are having trouble bouncing back from the COVID pandemic, this last week brought some good news about countries whose box office is rebounding more successfully along with predictions for when these markets might return and surpass pre-pandemic levels.
We heard from Kamal Gianchandani, the CEO of PVR Pictures and President of the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) on our most recent CJ Cinema Summit how that country’s cinema industry is meeting or exceeding 2019 box office levels thanks to hits such as “Gangubai Kathiawadi” which made INR ?209.77 crore (USD $26 million) and S.S. Rajamouli’s blockbuster “RRR,” which has earned over INR ?1,150 crore (US$140 million) globally to date and is currently being re-released in North American theatres. Hollywood titles which have done well in other parts of the world have also helped the Indian market recover. In addition, Gianchandani mentioned that spend-per-patron has also gone up since cinemas reopened throughout India.
The story seems to be the same in South Korea too, where theatre operators were crippled by onerous restrictions on seating capacity and a prohibition on concession sales. Now the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) is reporting that during the first six months of this year, the country’s box office earned 50% of what it made in 2019. That might not seem so great, given that the market hasn’t entirely recovered, but it’s up over 143% over the same period in 2021.
According to a report from PwC, the outlook for cinema operators in Australia is also positive. In fact, the firm believes 2023 will see the country return to pre-pandemic levels of AUD $1.22 billion (USD $840 million).
Of course, it helps to have titles like “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” bringing audiences into theatres for multiple viewings. Thankfully, with these releases maintaining decent weekly grosses, studios are allowing them to play out in cinemas before moving them to streaming services, where they will prove to be just as popular. I actually hear one exhibitor lament having to move “Minions” off their biggest screen to make way for “DC League of Super-Pets” fearing family audiences may be split on which film to see. It wasn’t so long ago that cinema owners were begging for even a single family film. Oh how the tide has shifted.
Now, as we near the end of July the industry is surely grateful that “Where the Crawdads Sing” is doing a decent job of bringing in older, female audiences. And Jordan Peele’s “Nope” is living up to expectations both critically and financially. Unfortunately, some exhibitors may have to start making some tough decisions about which of all these strong performers they might have to take off screens in order to make way for the highly anticipated Sony action film “Bullet Train.”
As difficult as those choices may be, it beats having to figure out how to survive for another month without any new releases to speak of, which is where we were just one year ago.
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