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1 July 2021

Covid-19 and the decline of the cinema blockbuster

F9 has become the most successful film since the start of the pandemic but it falls far short of previous benchmarks. 

By Patrick Scott

The ninth installation of the Fast & Furious franchise made headlines earlier this week for breaking the pandemic-era opening weekend box office record in the US. However, this does not signify a return to normality for the film industry.

According to Box Office Mojo, F9: The Fast Saga, brought in $70m in the US over its opening weekend, a significant improvement on flagship releases from last year (Christopher Nolan’s Tenet achieved just $9.3m in its opening weekend last August) but still far off pre-pandemic benchmarks.

The box office’s biggest hits are severely diminished in the pandemic era
Films with the highest grossing opening weekends per year, US box office

Until the pandemic, the money brought in by the biggest film of the year on its opening weekend had been steadily trending upwards. Avengers: Endgame broke the all-time opening weekend record in the US in 2019 with $357m, beating the previous record of $257m achieved by Avengers: Infinity War in 2018.

However, as our chart shows, Covid-19 has hit the film industry particularly hard. US Box Office revenues fell by around 80 per cent in 2020 as restrictions prevented people from attending cinemas and fewer films were released. While there may be signs of improvement this year, it’s far too soon to assume the film industry will bounce back.

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