What Has COVID-19’s Effect On The 2020 Box Office Been?

Now that we enter the second month of 2021, it seems a fitting time to look back on the box office from the year previous. COVID-19 affected the entire cinematic industry in terms of delays, cancellations, shutdowns and production terminations.

But just what was the effect worldwide on the box office. We’ve been updating you throughout the year with the numbers, but how do they stand by the nation.

How has COVID-19 affected the UK box office?

No Time To Die Trailer Super Bowl

Credit: Sony Pictures

The UK box office gross was recorded as being down 81% year on year, with a drop in admissions from 176m (BFI Data) to 44m. The devastating effect of cinema closures from March-July, November is clear here.

Along with the effects of Cineworld announcing the closure of their entire estate in October and films such as No Time To Die being pulled from the calendar. The top-grossing film in the UK for 2020 was 1917.

You can more on the end of 2020 UK Box Office with our article below:

Box Office Update: The UK’s Top Ten Highest-Grossing Films of 2020.

And in the USA…?

Bad Boys For Life Will Smith Jordan Peele Horror Movie

Credit: Sony Pictures

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Similarly, in the USA, revenues hit a 40-year low during the pandemic. 80% down from 2019, which saw huge box office successes such as Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King contribute to bringing in a record $11.8 billion.

Key sites in New York and L.A remained closed or heavily restricted throughout the year after March resulting in many delayed film release and wavering box office figures.

The top-grossing film in the US for 2020 was Bad Boys For Life.

And China…?


Credit: Beijing Diqi Yinxiang Entertainment

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For the first time ever, China became the world’s biggest grossing cinema market. China also saw effects of cinema closures, but also saw a return much quicker than any other nation in opening and took an estimated $3.13 billion at the box office.

84% of box office gross from China in 2020 came from domestic movies showing the strength in the product against a lack of Hollywood films. However, whilst China dominates the leader board it still suffered a similar drop to the rest of the world, with a decline of 68% against 2019’s figures. The highest-grossing film in China for 2020 was The Eight Hundred.

How did COVID-19 affect Australia’s box office?


Credit: Sony Pictures

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Variety reports that across the Globe, Australia saw a huge dip in revenues by 69% in 2020. From $937m to $306m in the space of 12 months. However similar to the UK, locally made films managed to compare a little better thanks to less competition.

Whilst in 2019 Australian made films took up a 3.3% market share, in 2020 despite seeing revenues dip by 55%, their share increased to 5.6%. The top-grossing film in Australia for 2020 was Jumanji: The Next Level.

And in Japan…?

demon-slayer-mugen-train-covid 19 box office

Credit: Ufotable

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Surprisingly box office in Japan against the rest of the world, dropped by only 45% against 2019, showing resilience in its domestic product. 2019 was record-breaking for Japan with takings of $2.5 billion, and 2020 ended with $1.37 billion at the end of the year.

Admissions were also down 45% with around 106 million made in the year against a previous of 195 million. The top-grossing film in Japan for 2020 was the ever successful Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train.

And what about in Europe?

In France where cinemas remained closed for over 176 days, local films again displayed strength in the market. France’s box office took an estimated hit against 2019 of around -69% according to an industry study from Comscore.

Germany recorded the same figure, whilst Italy, Spain also suffered losses of a 72% negative difference against 2019. With many countries still facing lockdowns and cinema closures, for the next 2 quarters at least it seems we’ll see much of the same.

But as 2021 kicks into gear (predicted as soon as Summer) we might see a much different story by the end of 2021.

What do you make of this feature? Are you worried about the future of the cinema industry after COVID-19? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


What do you make of this story? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out our podcasts, Small Screen Stories and Small Screen Film Club wherever you get your podcasts!

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