Still Slow Going For Most U.S. Theatrical Movies, TV Ad Spend

Although there have been recent gains, the U.S. theatrical business has a long way to go in terms of box-office revenues and national TV ad spending to promote those films.

For example, in the last two months, an estimated $107.1 million was spent by all movie studios in national TV advertising, according to -- producing some 12.8 billion impressions for 45,634 airings.

This is less than half of what was spent in the comparable two-month pre-pandemic period of 2019 -- $239.2 million, yielding 28.7 billion impressions from 89,534 airings.

Even with industry expectations of pent-up consumer demand, MoffettNathanson Research estimates box-office revenue won’t be returning to near 2019 levels until the fourth quarter.

For the current second-quarter period, which will end in a few days, its analysis is the U.S. theatrical market will see $795 million in box-office revenue, that's down 76% from $3.26 billion in 2019. The third quarter will see continued improvement --- $1.98 billion, down 30% from $2.8 million in 2019.



It expects the fourth quarter to finally realize an uptick -- posting $2.96 billion, up 3% from 2019’s $2.89 billion.

Key here will be the return of expected big exclusive franchise movies, says MoffettNathanson: “We note tentpoles remain the biggest driver of the domestic box office, as mid-budget movies have mostly disappeared.”

The share of those mid-level movies -- producing $50 million to $100 million in box office -- have dropped to 16% in 2019 from 30% in 2010. At the same time, bigger $100 million plus movies have grown to represent 60% of the market from 50%.

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