The box office is poised for a weaker 2019 than previously seen at Wedbush Securities, with a slimmer gain predicted in the final quarter of the year as moviegoers have more options for watching films at home than in theaters.
In a note on Tuesday, analysts including Michael Pachter and Alicia Reese said the North American box office is trending down 6.6% to $10 billion year-to-date compared with 2018. They’re expecting a full-year decline of 4.1% over last year to $11.4 billion. In their last box-office note on Nov. 18, the analysts projected a 2.6% decline for the year.
“Even with a stronger holiday box office run from ‘Frozen II’ compared to ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ over the holiday last year, total Thanksgiving box office was down roughly 18% year-over-year,” the analysts said. “We now expect the quarter to end up 1.4% year-over- year to $3 billion, vs. our prior estimate of up 7% year-over-year.”
While the sequel to Walt Disney’s (DIS) animated blockbuster, as well as “Joker” from AT&T’s (T) Warner Bros. Pictures, have proven dominant in the US box office this quarter, other releases haven’t done as well.
Still, the period ending Dec. 31 will be bolstered by the releases of the newest “Star Wars” release from Disney and a sequel to “Jumanji” from Sony (SNE), Wedbush said.
“In spite of a handful of major titles driving higher box office than comparable titles last year (‘Joker,’ ‘Frozen II,’ likely ‘Star Wars’), the concentration at the top of the box office is substantially higher year-over-year,” the analysts said. “We think this is largely driven by the increasing availability of compelling content on SVOD platforms, which allows moviegoers to watch more niche films (i.e. titles in the bottom 80% of quarterly box office) at home instead of in the theater.”
Streaming video on demand, or SVOD, is seen contributing to a projection for the 2020 box office to slide 2% to $11.2 billion, as more of the bottom 80% of movies get picked up by the online platforms, Wedbush said.