Movie theaters continue to suffer due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge of content from on-demand streaming platforms.
Here’s a recap of what happened in 2022 and the highest grossing movies both domestically and worldwide.
What Happened: The movie theater sector saw lower attendance than pre-COVID-19 and fewer movies released. The industry was also rocked by the bankruptcy of Cineworld — the second largest movie theater company in the world.
In 2022, domestic movie theater ticket sales were down 35% from pre-COVID 19 levels. Still, there were $7.35 billion in ticket sales reported by The Los Angeles Times. That’s up 61% compared to the $4.5 billion total from 2021.
There were also 38 fewer movies released in 2022 than in 2019, and the largest grossing movies made up a higher percent of the total. In fact, the top 10 domestic movies made up more than half of the box office, compared to a normal range of between 30% and 40% pre COVID-19, according to Variety.
The Top 10 Movies
Here is a look at the top ten movies based on domestic box office gross from BoxOfficeMojo.
- 1. Top Gun: Maverick, May 27, Paramount: $718.3 million
- 2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, No. 11, Disney: $436.3 million
- 3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, May 6, Disney: $411.3 million
- 4. Avatar: The Way of Water, Dec. 16, Disney: $400.6 million
- 5. Jurassic World: Dominion, Jun. 10, Comcast: $376.9 million
- 6. Minions: The Rise of Gru, July 1, Comcast: $369.7 million
- 7. The Batman, March 4, Warner Bros.: $369.3 million
- 8. Thor: Love and Thunder, July 8, Disney: $343.3 million
- 9. Spider-Man: No Way Home, Dec. 17, 2021, Sony: $231.8 million
- 10. Sonic the Hedgehog 2, April 8, Paramount: $190.9 million
Top Ten Movies Worldwide Box Office Gross 2022
- 1. Top Tun: Maverick: $1.49 billion
- 2. Avatar: The Way of Water: $1.44 billion
- 3. Jurassic World: Dominion: $1.00 billion
- 4. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: $955.8 million
- 5. Minions: The Rise of Gru: $939.6 million
- 6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: $821.7 million
- 7. The Batman: $770.8 million
- 8. Thor: Love and Thunder: $760.9 million
- 9. Water Gate Bridge (China): $626.6 million
- 10. Moon Man (China): $460.2 million
Why It’s Important: Paramount Global PARAPARAA may have had the surprise of the year with “Top Gun: Maverick” ranking as the top grossing movie both domestically and worldwide. The company also had “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” rank 10th domestically. Both films saw strong demand when they were released on the Paramount+ streaming platform.
The Walt Disney Company DIS had a mixed year with some industry analysts pointing to weak box office returns of “Lightyear” and “Strange World” showing the company has lost some of its movie magic. The company still managed to turn out the second, third, and fourth place movies domestically in 2022.
Disney also had the eighth highest grossing movie domestically and was a part of number nine with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” having some shared characters between Sony Group Corp SONY and Disney.
Disney also showed that its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, which gave it the Avatar film franchise, could continue to pay off. “Avatar: The Way of Water” has performed well since being released in December and could continue to dominate the box office for weeks to come.
Comcast Corporation CMCSA surprised with its Jurassic Park and Minions franchises being able to compete with the likes of superheroes at the box office. A look at the top ten grossing domestic releases showed the reliance on sequels and successful intellectual property. Nine of the top 10 were sequels with The Batman being the lone non-sequel, yet a reboot of a well-known movie franchise.
“The Batman” came from Warner Bros Discovery WBD, a company that has struggled at the box office in recent years with a heavier focus on content for its HBO Max streaming platform. “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” turned in $95.9 million domestically, but thanks to a strong international showing, ranked 11th worldwide at $405.2 million.
Movie theater stocks like AMC Entertainment Holdings AMC and Cinemark Holdings CNK had stronger results in 2022 with higher attendance than the year before. One concern for theater stocks was the lighter slate of movies in the third quarter, which hurt results and now puts pressure on the fourth quarter results.
Two of the biggest releases of the year were released in the fourth quarter, which could mean AMC and Cinemark start 2023 off strong with their results coming likely in February. Another movie theater stock to watch is IMAX Corporation IMAX, which posted strong results from Avatar and also had Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on its larger screens.
On the international front, Avatar: The Way of Water closed in on the top position with a strong performance at the end of the year and could be one of the top performing movies in 2023 worldwide with the potential to hit the $2 billion milestone.
Two releases from China ranked ninth and tenth worldwide and showed the strength of that country’s market. Likewise, several domestic movies saw weaker international box office as China limited the number of releases from the U.S. and also banned several movies with LGBTQ+ content.
Overall, 18 movies released domestically hit the $100 million milestone. A total of 23 movies hit $90 million in domestic box office. In 2021, only three movies hit the $200 million milestone, compared to nine movies in 2022.