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Here's How The Summer Box Office Compares To Pre-Pandemic Numbers

The industry is recovering from its massive pandemic slump, but it's not back to pre-COVID numbers yet.


The movie theater business was one of the worst hit when the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down in 2020, suffering both from lockdowns and ongoing studio delays once theatres were allowed to open again. Based on summer box office numbers, it looks like the industry is recovering well, though it still has a while to go to reach pre-pandemic numbers.

Variety reported the numbers in a feature that also interviewed theater owners for their outlook on the industry. According to Comscore statistics, the total box office take for the summer was $3.027 billion, only 17.5% down on 2019 numbers. The summer earnings showed an improvement of 134.6% compared to the same period last year, and a huge increase on 2020's lockdown-affected summer.

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The season's success has been attributed to recent blockbusters like Jurassic World Dominion, Lightyear, Elvis, and Top Gun: Maverick, which recently made its way into the top-ten earning films of all time. Other big earners include Everything Everywhere All At Once, Minions: Rise of Gru, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Jordan Peele's Nope.

According to theater owners interviewed by Variety, the industry isn't quite in the clear yet, with a dry spell on the way as far as the next few months of theatrical releases. While profits are recovering, there have still been 36.5% fewer releases in 2022 when compared to pre-COVID years, and that has theater owners worried.

The next major blockbuster due for a cinematic release is November's Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, though Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam, premiering in October, could also be a big draw for audiences.

Those interviewed also alluded to ongoing tension between streaming companies and the movie theater industry, with Netflix in particular not wanting to release many of its films in theaters due to the traditional window of exclusivity.

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