As Labor Day approaches, the U.S. Box Office is close to reaching a key milestone: the $4 billion domestic benchmark for the summer season. This target brings the box office closer to pre-pandemic levels and builds strongly on the recovery recorded in 2022.
According to the film industry adage, "in the summer, blockbusters reign supreme." The summer season typically accounts for 40% of the entire year's domestic box office revenue, making it a make-or-break period for the box office.
The Turning Point of '23 Box OfficeThe summer of '23 began with some high-profile films falling short of expectations. However, as the summer sun reached its zenith on July 21, the industry witnessed a momentous turning point. The Barbenheimer phenomenon burst onto the scene, paired with other heavyweight releases like Mission Impossible 7, Sound of Freedom, Meg 2: The Trench, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. In just four weekends, these films draw audiences back to cinemas in greater numbers.
As Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore puts it, "The key to a successful summer lies not just in the individual hits, but in their collective impact."
58% of individuals aged 18-24-years-old report having gone to a movie theatre in the last six months; up 17 points from a year ago. In fact, every age segmentation saw gains year over year.
What may be more interesting to marketers is the volume of movies people are seeing this year as 35% of the 18-24-year-old young adults report having seen two or more movies in the last month and approaching 1 in 5 saying they have seen more than five movies in the last 30-days.
Digital marketing campaigns have become a more pivotal factor than during pre-pandemic periods. 30-37% of every age group reported recently searching online for information about movies; highest in the young adults.
This is a social media savvy group that marketers are better leaning into making sure they are in front of, including with emerging social platforms, which requires an ‘always-on’ strategy.
“Seizing the full attention of young audiences at the movies is a unique opportunity for studios, who can leverage an effective digital marketing campaign well before movie goers enter a cinema and can extend meaningfully beyond the final credits to include brand partners,” said Jason Clough, Senior Director of Partner Insights at Comscore.
Economic Prosperity in the Cinematic DomainThe summer of '23 has demonstrated its financial resilience by amassing a domestic box office haul of $3.8 billion by August 20 - a 17% increase compared to the same period the previous year.
It’s also been a comeback story, as this year's summer performance shifted from a 7% deficit in June to a mere 5% gap behind the blockbuster-filled summer of 2019.
It is a testament to the transformative power of theatrical releases that have become a broader experience for audiences. Consider Barbie movie goers dressing in bright pink to attend cinemas in group screenings, their anticipation of the cinema experience started well before they purchased their tickets and, in this case, the Barbie branded product purchased through summer collaborations. As the industry has drawn closer to a $4 billion season—the next three weeks will be pivotal.
As the curtain rises on upcoming releases that will take us through a variety of stories and landscapes, there’s an economic force behind the glitz and glam of Hollywood that the industry is not just watching but needs to learn from.