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Box office shows signs of recovery in 2023 performance

Caryl Anne Francia

The 2023 domestic box office surpassed $9 billion in revenue, the highest the box office has seen since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.   

Despite major roadblocks, including a strike held by members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the entertainment industry managed to score major achievements in box office numbers last year.

While the box office surpassed $9 billion in revenue, it fell short of pre-pandemic movie ticket sales by $2 billion. The box office was 20% less than 2019, which saw a revenue goal post of $11.4 billion with blockbusters such as “Avengers: Endgame,” a movie that made $858 million domestically and $2.7 billion worldwide.

Still, 2023 was a good year for the film industry, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at media analytics company Comscore, told CNN.

“2023 was one of the most tumultuous, confounding and indeed exciting years for the industry with audiences enthusiastically interested the moviegoing experience and the films on offer at the multiplex while delivering insights into what is appealing and what is not from their perspective as reflected in the many unexpected hits and misses during the year,” Dergarabedian said.

Big movie brands such as Marvel Entertainment dealt with roller-coaster-like numbers at the box office. 

May’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” saw strong box-office numbers, generating an opening weekend revenue of $118 million. The performance was followed by a $358 million overall domestic goalpost and $845 million worldwide.

Despite its reputation for producing smash-hit films, Marvel broke its winning streak with a few box-office flops.

Brie Larson’s “The Marvels,” the sequel to 2018’s “Captain Marvel” ended its international run with $205.8 million, ComicBook reported. “The Marvels” earned $84.5 million from the domestic box office. 

The film made history as the lowest-grossing movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, a title that had not been given to a Marvel movie since “The Incredible Hulk” in 2008. 

Since the film bombed at the box office following its November release, the Walt Disney Co. stopped reporting its weekly figures for “The Marvels” less than a month after its films showed a consecutive pattern of not reaching No.1. 

Other Marvel projects saw varying degrees of success. 

Although “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” was rated 5.5 stars out of 10 among critics according to Rotten Tomatoes,, the third film in the Ant-Man trilogy secured a spot in the top ten grossing film list, according to Comscore data from December 2023.

Animated films made small waves at the box office. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” led the charge with a $574 million domestic opening and $1.3 billion worldwide victory. Following the video-game-based movie, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” came in at No. 2, and Disney’s “Elemental” secured the No. 3 spot.

The musical film “Wonka,” starring Timothée Chalamet, ended the year on a high note.

The prequel to author Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” reached No. 1 at the box office during its opening weekend in December. The film gained $24 million during its first weekend and added $31.8 million over the holiday season, making the film’s total domestic number $142.5 million. It earned $9 billion in revenue.

“Wonka” defeated Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” as the aqua-based superhero film, similar to past superhero films featuring characters from DC Comics, struggled to claim a victory spot at the box office.

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” ended 2023 as the highest-grossing film of the year. The doll-inspired film generated more than $1.4 billion since hitting the big screen in July 2023.

Comscore’s Dergarabedian, who predicted the success of “The Super Marios Bros. Movie,” said that the success of movies like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” was due to the audience’s desire for something new.

“I think audiences are really showing what they want are films that are a little different,”  Dergarabedian told CNBC.

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About the Contributors
Jahlil Rush
Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant
Jahlil Rush is a Production Assistant for The Ticker.
Caryl Anne Francia
Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor
Caryl Anne Francia is the Business Editor for The Ticker.
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