Disney topped the domestic box office in 2021

Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.


Marvel Cinematic Universe Boosted Disney topping the domestic box office in 2021.

While the pandemic continues to weigh on the movie theater business, movie theaters were able to rake in $4.58 billion in ticket sales in the United States and Canada, more than double their 2020 revenue.

A whopping 25.5% of that was made by Disney, raking in $1.17 billion from movies like “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Black Widow,” and “The Legend of the Ten Rings.” The Eternals”. The company, which released movies from studios, including Disney Animation, 20th Century and Searchlight, had the highest revenue of the year.

Sony came closest, grossing $1.05 billion for the year, more than half of which was distributed in the final two weeks of the year from “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The Disney-Sony collaboration is the highest-grossing movie of 2021.

“It took an entire village to rebuild at the box office in the most unusual 2021,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “The major studios have demonstrated confidence and understanding of the value of the big-screen release of their most popular titles and met with raving audiences hungry for on-screen experiences. wide image.”

Since reopening, cinemas have had their ups and downs in ticket sales. Domestic box office receipts have recovered from historic lows in 2020, but have not yet reached the pre-pandemic consistency.

Movie franchises have always been popular, and in times of pandemic, they’re the biggest draw for cinemas. In fact, of the top ten grossing films, only one was Disney’s “Free Guy,” which is not based on existing intellectual property.

In 2021, only 13 films will surpass $100 million, an achievement typically achieved with about 30 films before the pandemic. However, having more than a dozen films in this number is a positive sign for the domestic box office.

“The results are impressive and a welcome boost to a resilient industry that will face challenges in 2022,” he said.

While these blockbusters have rekindled faith in the future of the box office, concerns about new Covid variants as well as lackluster ticket sales for unlicensed films could mean slower recovery of the industry.

Since the cinemas reopened, movies aimed at older audiences like “House of Gucci”, “The Last Duel” and “West Side Story” had a hard time attracting large crowds. While movies with adult content typically make less money than major promotional films, they’re still critically important to the overall box office. Together, these so-called “average” features contribute billions to total annual shipping.

That has led many box office analysts to predict the domestic box office in 2022 will reach about $8 billion instead of $11 billion as before the pandemic.

Looking at the top three grossing studios this year, it’s clear which films and genres are the most successful and what we can expect to continue to do well into 2022.


Disney’s three highest-grossing films are tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, “Black Widow” and “Eternals” all grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office.

Next year, Disney will release three more popular MCU movies including “Doctor Strange and Madness’s Multiverse,” “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” If current box office trends continue, these films should do well at the box office.

Disney’s 2021 domestic box office numbers also show that dual theatrical and Disney+ releases have resulted in smaller box office receipts for films like “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Cruella.” . Although these films were released early on schedule, when audiences were just beginning to return to cinemas, it was clear that the domestic supply had cut into theatrical sales quickly. .

In addition, with older audiences still planning to return to theaters, “West Side Story” generated only $28 million in ticket sales with a production budget of about $100 million, excluding marketing costs. . That’s despite a 93% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Families, too, have been slow to return. “Encanto,” which received rave reviews, ended the year with about $90 million in ticket sales in the US and Canada.


Sony generated more than half of its $1.05 billion total in the final few weeks of 2021, thanks to its partnership with Disney. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” grossed $572.9 million domestically, the highest of any movie released in 2021.

The studio also enjoyed success with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” which grossed $212 million in the US and Canada, and from “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which grossed $122 million. Like Disney, Sony benefits from beloved series that draw audiences back to theaters.

However, not all of its follow-ups were successful. Existing IP-based smaller budget films such as “Don’t Breathe 2”, “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” and “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” failed to attract significant viewership.

Sony also sold off a number of movies to streamers last year, including “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania,” “Happhest Season,” “Fatherhood,” “Greyhound,” “Cinderella,” and “American Pickle.” It’s not guaranteed that any of these films will generate significant ticket sales for the studio, but they are titles that could boost Sony’s overall box office for 2021.


The third highest-grossing studio is Universal, which grossed about $715 million domestically from films like “F9,” “Halloween Kills,” and “Sing 2.”

Like Sony and Disney, Universal’s movie franchises are well-positioned for success in 2022. The studio is set to release “Jurassic World: Dominion,” “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” and an untitled animated film by Mario Bros. If families feel more comfortable bringing vaccinated children to theaters, more kid-friendly fares could start to rise again for studios.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Rotten Tomatoes.


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