Bad news, good news. The pandemic devastated many businesses, and the film industry was hit hard. The 2020 domestic box office fell 80% to $2.3 billion, behind China’s haul of $2.7 billion. This is the first time China beat North America’s totals. In another first, a Chinese film, The Eight Hundred, topped the box office with $440 million. Hollywood’s biggest earner was Sony’s Bad Boys for Life, which opened in mid-January and brought in $413 million. Next up was Sam Mendes’ 1917, which took in $385 million after opening on January 10th.
The first tentpole released post-pandemic, Christopher Nolan‘s Tenet, starring Robert Pattinson, brought in $362 million worldwide.
2019 brought in $11.4 billion; this year’s receipts were the lowest in 40 years as many cinemas faced shutdowns for nine+ months in the U.S. Globally, movie ticket sales are expected to bring in $11.5-$12 billion, down from 2019’s $42.5 billion.
Now, for the good news. Women directed a record number of films last year, according to a study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. Women comprised 16% of directors who helmed the 100 highest-grossing films in 2020, up from 12% in 2019 and 4% in 2018.
High-budget efforts include Chloe Zhao‘s Nomadland, Cathy Yan‘s Birds of Prey and Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman 1984. Others, including Zhao’s The Eternals and Cate Shortland‘s Black Widow were pushed to 2021 due to the pandemic.