Summer Box Office Returns To Normalcy, Poised To Hit $4 Billion

More pressure on the AMPTP and the guilds to come to terms: This summer’s domestic box office is set to cross $4 billion, for the 13th year ever.

The latest figures come from Comscore, and yes, we can give thanks to Barbenheimer which has a combined stateside take of $856M, repping 23% of the current running summer domestic B.O. of $3.797B.

Looking to get this summer across the $4 billion mark is Sony’s release of The Equalizer 3 which could ring up a 4-day opening of $40M over Labor Day weekend.

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Currently, this summer’s ticket sales are pacing 17% ahead of last summer which minted $3.44 billion, a definite comeback from the pandemic’s 2020 closure, and studio’s largely abandonment of theatrical day and date releases, which were littered across summer 2021. This summer is currently pacing 5.3% behind 2019 which amounted to $4.3 billion.

The highest grossing summer ever for the May through Labor Day weekend period was 2013 which grossed $4.755 billion, led by Disney/Marvel Studio’s Iron Man 3 which did $409M. The summer box office has yet to gross $5 billion in a single season.

The summer season on average accounts for 40% of the annual box office year; still a prime time for the major studios.

Comscore Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian tells Deadline, “Summer is the roller-coaster season and the volatility created by a very small window of an 18-week corridor caused many to write off ’23 before the Barbenheimer phenomenon swooped in to add nearly $1B in domestic revenue to the hottest season’s bottom line.”

He further adds, “Quite an amazing summer for movie theaters after a three-year stretch of a down trending returns. This is clearly a positive result within the context of a very tumultuous period for the industry at large with the strikes and the headwinds associated with those profound issues.”

With the lingering SAG-AFTRA strike, the fall could be in a funk with a few tentpoles already moved out of the season. Sony was scheduled to kick off October with their Marvel title, Kraven the Hunter, but that franchise starter departed for Labor Day weekend 2024. It also moved their Christmas release of Ghostbusters to next Easter. It’s expected that Legendary/Warner Bros.’ Dune: Part Two will move off its Nov. 3 release date to next year. Whether other tentpoles buckle and move out of 2023 remains to be seen. All hope rests on Equalizer 3 and New Line’s The Nun II fueling a more robust September than what we had last year, which lacked product due to movies held up in post-production because of Covid.

The U.S./Canada box office currently counts $6.49B for period of Jan. 1-Aug. 20, +24.4% over the same frame last year, but 14% off from 2019.

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