Box office numbers restore hope for financial comeback from pandemic

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

When movie theaters shut their doors in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they left a huge void and a cloud of uncertainty in the entertainment industry. But recent box office numbers show promising signs for the future of films.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” reined in big box-office numbers. It generated $87 million in ticket revenue and marked the best second weekend ever for an animated movie in theaters.

The “Mario” movie recorded $678 million in revenue in its first two weekends, surpassing Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” to become the biggest film of the year in just two weekends. The video game-inspired film is also slated to join the billion-dollar worldwide box-office club.

Since movie theaters reopened toward the end of 2020, the U.S. box office has recovered slowly, generating higher ticket sales each of the following years. The movie theaters across the country generated $7.5 billion in 2022, which is an increase of 64% compared to 4.58 billion in 2021, CNBC reported.

Theater venues have reaped in the benefits of the post-pandemic movie landscape. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. said in a press release that during Easter weekend, the company recorded its busiest weekend of the year and its busiest weekend since December 2019.

Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at, told CNBC that while blockbusters and franchise films are important to the recovery efforts, a steady stream of low-tier to mid-tier budget movies were also critical to the overall success of the film industry.

Additionally, movie theater stocks have experienced a whirlwind of positive results during this time of post pandemic success. CNN reported that shares of AMC theaters were up 28%, while Cinemark Holdings Inc. stock shot up 72%.

In recent years, movies based on video games franchises have gained momentum in box-office opening spots. 

According to Box Office Mojo, “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu”  generated almost $54.4 million during its opening weekend in 2019 and has since grossed $144.1 million, while “Sonic the Hedgehog”  generated $58 million during its opening weekend in 2020 and has  grossed almost $149.9 million, as of April 25.

Despite reports showing that film grossings are returning to their pre-pandemic levels, theatergoers have shown “superhero fatigue,” or exhaustion over seeing films with such characters dominating the box office.

Since the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth phase, 2021’s “Spider Man: No Way Home” has been the only movie to cross the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office.

“We’re actually catching up with 2019 levels,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore, told CNBC. “Remember: 2019 was no slouch. It was the second-highest box office year with $11.4 billion.”

While it is still too early to know for certain if the financial performance of films have returned to pre-pandemic levels, these positive signs suggest that the film industry is on the road to a financial comeback from the pandemic. 

As pandemic-related restrictions were lifted, cinemas gradually re-opened and more theatergoers returned to in-person screenings. Film-loving consumers can look forward to studios consequently investing in new productions and a significant boost in revenue for the film industry and related businesses.