U.S. Box Office Cratered 80 Percent in 2020

People wearing facemasks walk at the Griffith Observatory with a view of the Hollywood sign at the start of Memorial Day holiday weekend amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles on May 22, 2020. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)
APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

Thanks to the nationwide coronavirus closures and lockdowns in major movie markets from New York City to Los Angeles, the U.S. movie box office take crashed 80 percent last year, according to a new report by the Motion Picture Association.

The research found that the box office earnings fell to $2.2 billion in 2020, down 80 percent from 2019’s $11.4 billion.

The U.S. theatrical and mobile entertainment market earned $36.1 billion in 2019. But last year that take fell to $32.2 billion amid the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns. It is the lowest take since the $32 billion earned in 2017.

The final number, though, from the report also shows massive growth in streaming and video-on-demand services. Streaming earned $20 billion in 2019, but that take ballooned to $26.5 billion last year.

The report also found that China’s earnings surpassed that of North America for the first time ever. China’s entertainment market earned $3 billion to America’s $2.2 billion. Japan came in second with a take of $1.3 billion.

Per the Hollywood Reporter, The MPA report added:

“The past year was challenging for the global economy, and for virtually every aspect of our daily lives: the staggering loss of life, the toll on our frontline workers, the devastating and widespread loss of jobs and businesses, and the almost complete shutdown of many industries,” MPA chairman-CEO Charles Rivkin said in his letter introducing the 60 page-plus report.

“Our workforce was not immune: Jobs were lost, productions were either curtailed or shut down, and movie theaters shuttered around the globe,” Rivkin continued. “But, during an otherwise punishing year for theatrical exhibition and our industry at large, home and curated entertainment boomed. The good news wasn’t just confined to homes, laptops, and other personal devices. As recent stories have shown, audiences never lost their appetite to enjoy the theatrical experience, and drive-in theaters enjoyed their highest returns in decades.”

During the pandemic in 2020, 55 percent of adults said their viewing habits on streaming increased, while 46 percent said their pay-TV use increased. The MPA report also found that users aged 18 to 39 were most likely to use mobile devices for daily viewing habits.

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