The 2023 Box Office Exit Survey: Our Biggest Takeaways From A Wild Year At The Movies

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Written By Sedoso Feb

One thing that remains true: Hollywood studios are releasing fewer movies than they did before the pandemic began. Box Office Mojo tallied 910 movies released when the domestic box office hit a record $11.3 billion in 2019. In 2023, the number they have tallied sits at just 584. So we’ve still got some ground to make up, but part of what has helped to close the gap this year is specialty programming. From faith-based films to concert documentaries and even Japanese animation, we’ve seen these titles succeed week in and week out.

By far the biggest example of this was “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.” Distributed directly by AMC Theatres and announced just weeks before it dropped, Swift’s film allowed audiences to experience her blockbuster tour affordably — and man did it pay off. It made $250 million worldwide, including a monster $179 million domestically. AMC did something similar with “Renaissance: A Film by Beyonce” ($42 million worldwide) mere weeks later. This is revenue theaters sorely needed due to movies like “The Marvels” underperforming.

But those are just the tip of the iceberg. We can also look at “Godzilla Minus One” and “The Boy and the Heron” vastly overperforming against modest expectations. “Godzilla” has made $40 million and counting, while “Heron” is over $30 million. On the faith-based side, we’ve got “Sound of Freedom” ($248 million), “Jesus Revolution” ($54 million), and “His Only Son” ($13 million). These are all low-risk/high-reward prospects that helped put butts in seats all year long.

In 2024 and beyond, theater chains and Hollywood studios alike should aspire to build on these sorts of programming offerings to help bring in audiences who might not otherwise bother to go to theaters regularly. Serving underserved audiences (surprise!) is very good for business, it turns out.

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