U.K., Italy, Spain, China Lead International Box Office Losses in 2020

Savaged by COVID-19, global box office plunged between 57% and 76% in major markets outside the U.S., with the U.K. and Ireland leading the rout, crashing 76% against 2019, according to a Comscore study, published Wednesday.

Also hit hard were China (-70%), South Korea (-71%), and Italy and Spain (both down 72%). Russia (-60%), Japan (-61%) and New Zealand (-62%) in contrast performed relatively well by pandemic standards. Australia (-65%) and Germany and France (-69%) posted middling performances.

Two factors condition territories’ performances, Eric Marti, head of Comscore France, told Variety: The length and scale of cinema theater closures; and the strength of local industries, so the capacity of their movies to compensate for the lack of Hollywood blockbusters.

The massive hit taken by the U.K. industry is explained by “the lack of strong local titles,” Marti said. Japan, in large contrast, benefitted this year from the $313.7 million (JPY32.5 billion) accumulated gross run up through Dec. 27 by animated feature “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train,” making it the biggest-ever box office hit in Japan. Russian cinemas have remained open since July 15.

In France, cinemas have remained closed for 176 days this year, but French movies came to the rescue after cinema theaters reopened from June 22 to Oct. 28, the market share of local movies skyrocketing from 40.4% in October 2019 to 62.1% in October 2020.

The market that best survived COVID-19, according to the Comscore study, was the Netherlands, where total 2020 box office was down just 57% on 2019.

All figures are through either Dec. 21 or Dec. 27/28 and estimates. The huge damage wreaked on cinemagoing outside the U.S. is, however, brutally clear.


By John Hopewell/Variety

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