Moviegoers wear face masks in a projection hall of a movie theater almost six months after they closed due to a coronavirus pandemic on July 24, 2020 in Beijing, China.
China News Service | China News Service | Getty Images
In a year marked by a deadly global pandemic, Japan’s box office set a new record.
An animated film based on a popular manga called “Demon Slayer” became the top grossing film in the country’s history, beating the record for Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” in 2001. It has ticket sales of more than US $ 322 million Dollars earned.
Japan, an island nation in East Asia of more than 126 million people, has had fewer than 300,000 coronavirus cases and only saw box office revenues drop by 46% in 2020 to $ 1.27 billion.
By comparison, the domestic box office slumped 80% to $ 2.28 billion as U.S. coronavirus cases have topped 21.6 million since the pandemic began. Canada, a box office employee, has seen fewer than 645,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Japan is just one of many countries in the Asia-Pacific region that have managed to manage the coronavirus pandemic in such a way that case numbers have remained low and consumer confidence has remained high.
In countries like China, Australia and South Korea, where cases of Covid have dropped significantly, analysts and operators are seeing box offices rebound and thrive.
In fact, its market share in the Asia-Pacific region increased in 2020. While the global box office was significantly lower last year – about 70% of its 2019 value, or about $ 12.4 billion – the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 51% of the Ticket sales. In 2019, these countries accounted for 41%, according to data from Comscore and analysis from Gower Street.
By comparison, in 2019 the US and Canadian box offices accounted for 30% of global ticket sales. In 2020 this market share fell to just 18%.
The Asia-Pacific region has gone to great lengths to fight the coronavirus, including breaking travel, setting up extensive testing and tracing of contacts, hiring masks, and implementing strict social distancing rules. Regardless of the approach taken by each country, its ability to reduce coronavirus cases and reopen their economies shows that if the US is able to do the same, similar results can be achieved.
So far, the response to coronavirus in America has been slow, and cases continue to climb to historic levels, with hospital stays and deaths increasing too.
As of August, when the majority of the world’s theaters reopened, the Asia-Pacific region has nearly 78% of the world’s total box office.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said these countries have bounced back after widespread theater closings.
First, these countries have been able to control their outbreaks by banning their outbreaks, introducing contact tracing and enforcing mask mandates. The reduction in the number of cases and strict preventive measures have increased the confidence of potential moviegoers.
Second, these countries had new non-Hollywood films to release. Domestically, the box office stalled because there was no new product for the audience to see. Even when theaters reopened with limited capacity, most of the films were legacy titles such as Star Wars, Jaws, and Goonies.
In the Asia-Pacific region, there was always new content in the studios to get people off their couches. And moviegoers turned out in droves.
In China, two films have generated more than $ 400 million at the local box office: “The Eight Hundred,” a war drama from the 1930s, and “My People, My Homeland,” a comedy film made up of five short stories . Both films were released in the second half of the year.
By comparison, the top grossing film in the US and Canada in 2020 was Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life”. The action film, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, is the third in the Bad Boys franchise and was released in January before the virus spread to the United States. It raised $ 204 million during its theatrical release.
No film released domestically in the second half of the year reached nearly $ 100 million.
Universal’s family animated film “The Croods: A New Age” and Warner Bros.’s superhero sequel “Wonder Woman 1984” both made less than $ 30 million domestically. Another Warner Bros title, Tenet, was released on Labor Day weekend and did not exceed $ 60 million in its theatrical release.
“There is no doubt that going back to a normal big screen market will take a lot of time and patience,” said Dergarabedian. “However, the lessons of the example of countries that have rallied strongly in recent months show that a well-managed Covid response and engaging new films can work together to spark box office prosperity now and in the future kindle. “
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. “The Croods: A New Age” is an NBCUniversal film.