The news couldn’t have been worse for the film business as 2014 closed out. North American box office revenue saw the biggest decline in nine years as revenue tumbled 5 percent over 2013 as a slew of tentpoles failed to do monster business.
Fast-forward to June 24, 2015: Domestic box office revenue for 2015 has hit $5.303 billion year-to-date, an all-time high, according to Rentrak. (The previous best for the same time period was $5.153 billion in 2012.) And the year is up 12 percent over 2013.
The boom is due to a eclectic diet of hits, beginning in January with American Sniper ($350.1 million) and followed by Furious 7 ($351 million), Cinderella ($199.8 million), Pitch Perfect 2 ($179.2 million), Home ($174.3 million) and Universal’s Fifty Shades of Grey ($166.2 million).
Avengers: Age of Ultron ($450.5 million) and San Andreas ($135.8 million) kicked off summer in high style, although things started to look grim over Memorial Day when Tomorrowland quickly fizzled.
But summer revenue has made T. Rex-like strides — thanks to Jurassic World and Inside Out — hitting $2.049 billion on June 24, second only to the $2.157 billion grossed during the same time time period in 2013. Jurassic World has smashed numerous records and will surpass Ultron sometime on Friday to become the top-grossing domestic title of the year.
Considering what’s still waiting in the wings, including December’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many are predicting a record year at the box office, eclipsing the $10.9 billion earned in 2013. And they’re also optimistic that summer 2015 will also set a new record, besting the $4.76 grossed in 2013.
“The bedrock truth is that when you have movies opening so big and generating such huge ticket sales, the more people are interested in seeing other films,” said Nicholas Carpou, president of domestic distribution for Universal. “It keeps them optimistic about the next movie coming up.”
Universal is enjoying the best year in its history, and is No. 1 in marketshare. Two of its films, Furious 7 and Jurassic World, have already grossed north of $1 billion globally, or $1.51 billion and $1.02 billion, respectively. (It is also home to Fifty Shades of Grey and Pitch Perfect 2.) Disney is also prospering, with Ultron earning $1.38 billion globally.
“We have been breaking records in almost every single month, and that’s how you build a record year,” said Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.