March 12, 2013

This Year’s Box Office Softness — Not At All Unprecedented

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Nine weeks into 2013, the North American box office is down significantly from last year (-19%).  But it’s more interesting when we look back at the a longer period — in this case, the last six years.  Half of those years resemble this year, and the other half resemble “up” years like 2012.  Those up years were generally at $1.7 billion in box office at this point of the year: $1.704 billion in 2010, $1.696 billion in 2012 and $1.676 billion in 2009.  The down years, in contrast, were at a more modest $1.4 billion: $1.383 billion in 2008, $1.381 billion in 2013 and $1.335 billion in 2011.

This $300 million gap at this early point in the year generally translates to around a $600 million difference between the up and down years for the full year.  The up years finished around $10 billion for the year: $10.15 billion in 2012, $10.05 billion in 2009 and $9.81 billion in 2010.  The other down years ended up in the low-$9 billion range: $9.49 billion in 2011 and $9.11 billion in 2008.

We will keep updating these trend lines every few weeks throughout the year.

Note: the ShowbuzzDaily box office totals include wide release films (films that played at some point over 400 screens and usually represent about 85% of total box office).  Each year is defined as starting the first Monday in January, and each period in the chart above is the first 63 days (9 weeks) after that starting date.  2008 is Jan 7-Mar 9.  2009 is Jan 5-Mar 8.  2010 is Jan 4-Mar 7.  2011 is Jan 3-Mar 6.  2012 is Jan 2-Mar 4.  2013 is Jan 7-Mar 10.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.