With the year about to close, domestic film ticket sales are set to reach an estimated $11.4 billion for this year – down 4% on last year but still the second biggest in history after final numbers are collated. It’s expected admissions should dip by roughly the same percent.
Though the numbers appear healthy on the surface, Variety reports that they have Hollywood concerned – especially considering Walt Disney Studios released at least one and often two or more major entries from nearly all of its major film departments this year in a show of firepower to herald the arrival of the Disney+ streaming service.
Disney had two major films each from three of their four biggest ‘silos’ – Marvel (“Captain Marvel,” “Avengers: Endgame”), animation (“Frozen II,” “Toy Story 4”) and live-action adaptations of their animated classics (“Aladdin,” “The Lion King”) with all six films earning over $1 billion globally each. The other silo, “Star Wars,” had one film with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” which looks also set to pass $1 billion globally.
Even the ones deemed flops, like the live-action “Dumbo” and the “Maleficent” sequel, made nearly a $1 billion combined worldwide and allowed Disney to rack up more than $11 billion at the global box office, while domestically controlling roughly 40% of the marketplace.
Disney’s 2020 slate in comparison is decidedly more demure and mostly filled with original fare like Pixar’s “Onward” and “Soul,” Marvel’s “Black Widow” & “Eternals,” “Jungle Cruise,” “Artemis Fowl,” “The One and Only Ivan,” “Raya and the Last Dragon” and the only real guaranteed hit – the live-action “Mulan” remake.
Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, says: “The biggest challenge is keeping above the line talent working in the studio system versus the streaming world. All these new creators of content are coming of age in a system where TV is every bit as glamorous and rewarding as film, if not more so. Plus, there’s much more creative freedom with streaming content versus theatrical. You can grow an audience and take more chances. That’s what’s working against theatrical.”
All of this is taking place in the shadow of the pivot to streaming with Apple TV+ and Disney+ having launched and with HBOMax & Peacock on the way along with already established players like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. all set to take up much of the conversation next year.