Global box office revenue hit a record high in 2019, thanks to “Avengers: Endgame” and “The Lion King.” But cinema was no match for the booming online viewing market.
According to a new report from the Motion Picture Assn.
Global movie ticket sales were $42.2 billion, up 1% from a year earlier, said the MPA, the Washington-based lobby group that represents major Hollywood studios and Netflix.
Digital media – which includes subscription services and online purchases of movies and TV shows – accounted for nearly half (48%) of consumer spending on movies and home entertainment in 2019, up from 42% the previous year, according to the MPA report. Meanwhile, spending on physical DVDs and Blu-rays fell 18.5% to $10.1 billion.
The data marks an important milestone for the entertainment industry, which has seen rapid changes in consumer behavior in recent years due to the rise of streaming services, including Netflix and its growing list of competitors. Spending on digital home entertainment totaled $39.3 billion in 2018, according to updated figures from the MPA, which was lower than the $41.8 billion in movies generated at the box office that year.
“The film, TV and streaming industry continues to transform at a breakneck pace – and as this report will show, audiences are the big winner,” MPA chief executive Charles Rivkin wrote in the report.
The pace of change is expected to accelerate in the coming year as studios significantly adapt their businesses by launching their own streaming services.
Walt Disney Co. launched Disney+ in November, charging $6.99 a month to access its trove of movies and shows. Earlier this year, Disney reported amassing an impressive 28.6 million subscribers, and the company is expected to ramp up programming for the service after the success of “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian.”
WarnerMedia owner AT&T Inc. is set to enter the streaming wars with HBO Max in May, while Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s abbreviated video engine Quibi is set to launch in April. Also this year, NBCUniversal is expected to heavily promote the launch of its streaming offering, Peacock.
The MPA has also moved on, welcoming Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming giant Netflix to its ranks last year. Prior to 2017, the MPA’s annual market report focused on theater statistics, not home entertainment.
The report comes at a time when cinemas around the world are grappling with the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Cinemas in China, representing 70,000 screens, have been closed for weeks. Italy closed cinemas and other venues this week to slow the spread of the virus. Multiplexes have remained open in the United States, but are preparing for the effect on business as the number of cases increases here.
The MPA is expected to discuss the report’s statistics at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, the annual gathering of studios and exhibitors that begins March 30. The National Association. of Theater Owners, which is organizing the event, maintained that the show will go ahead despite fears of the coronavirus, but will take extra safety precautions.
“The Motion Picture Association and its member companies are closely monitoring reports from public health officials about the coronavirus and protective measures to limit its impact,” an MPA spokesperson said in a statement at the end of the week. last month.
The 2019 box office record was the result of a slew of blockbusters, including Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” Disney Animation’s “Frozen 2,” and Chinese animated blockbuster “Ne Zha.”
The international box office reached $30.8 billion, up 3% from 2018, with the biggest increases coming from Asian countries, including Japan. Sales in Japan increased 19% to $2.4 billion. The Chinese box office, the film’s second-biggest market behind the United States and Canada, rose 1% to a record $9.3 billion.
Revenue in the United States and Canada was $11.4 billion in 2019, down 4% from the previous year. Attendance, or the number of tickets sold, fell 5% to 1.24 billion. Disney dominated the domestic market, releasing seven of the top eight theatrical films in the United States and Canada last year.
Meanwhile, U.S. digital home entertainment sales, which topped the box office years ago, jumped 18% to $20.5 billion. Digital spending first matched the domestic box office at $11.4 billion in 2016.
Cinemas have long played down the potential threat of competition from streaming, arguing that people who watch movies and TV shows online are more likely to also pay to see movies on the big screen.
According to the MPA report, frequent moviegoers (those who go to the cinema once a month or more) are more likely to own key technology products, including smartphones, video game consoles and streaming devices, than regular moviegoers. other groups. Seventy-three percent of avid moviegoers own at least four types of tech products, compared to 58% of the general population, according to the report.