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USA: The bedrock of global cinema growth Often our industry seems so driven by the pursuit of novelty, emerging territories, new audiences and golden opportunities that it’s easy to overlook established markets — none moreso than the US. David Hancock scrutinises the Domestic box office.


Words: David Hancock/IHS Markit


two-thirds of the revenues earned in cinemas every year.

on emerging markets and driving

There are more than 7,000 films produced globally every

new growth for rights holders and

year and yet the world’s cinemas rely on a handful of US

exhibitors alike, it is, nevertheless,

films to draw in visitors and make money. Most domestic-

worth remembering that one market

produced films do not cross cultures like American films.

has been the global underpinning of

In the USA, tentpole movies often make close to as much

the cinema business for decades: the USA. The US market

in their home territory as they do worldwide.

may have diminished in its overall contribution to the

The number of films released in US cinemas is growing

global box office, but that doesn’t make it less important to

steadily every year (777 in 2017 compared to 638 in 2008)

the health of the sector and the viability of the investment

and yet the studios which are shrinking down their output

that is happening in new technologies, new infrastructure

to focus on these bigger films with greater marketing

and other service-related elements by cinemas.

budgets are also increasing their market share. They are all

The data sources often address the North American

operating within larger media entities, and while their

market (USA plus Canada), but I have separated them out

output is significant in driving revenues across these

later where possible. North America registered a gross box

groups, they themselves are relatively small parts of them.

office of $11.1bn in 2017, down slightly on 2017 but similar

The studios are also faced with larger, consolidated

to 2015 and higher than any previous years before that.

exhibitors. Although the media and

Growth is relatively limited as befits a mature market and

consumption landscape is changing

box office movement is usually driven by the performance

around them, they have proved to be

of the films at the top of the market. Having said that, the

relatively successful at adapting to a

market is mature and stable, total box office revenue in

‘Netflix and mobile’ world so far —

North America reached $6.18bn in H1 2018, a 9.6% increase

certainly within the cinema space,

on the same total in 2017. The first six months is the largest

bringing their market share back up

on record (in revenue terms) and the first time box office

to above 80% consistently.

for the first half of the year has exceeded $6 billion. In fact,


in revenue terms, total takings for the first six months of 2018 actually exceeded total annual box office generated some 20 years previously ($5.8bn in 1997).

Hollywood — still home to the stars North America represented 28% of global box office in

“Though the media landscape is changing around them, studios are relatively successful at adapting”


North America had 28% of global box office share in 2017

2017. This is down from 44% back at the beginning of this century. However, the USA remains the single largest box office market and is home to the studios, the entities that made the US the home of the film industry. As an industry, we must not forget or take for granted that it is US films that drive the global box office, earning 2 6


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films were released in US cinemas in 2017 compared to 638 in 2008


12-17 year olds will see around 3.8 3D movies a year

Profile for Cinema Technology

Cinema Technology Magazine - September 2018