After COVID lockdowns, the true test of a country’s re-opening is how willing movie-lovers are to return to the cinema. After all, would you sit in a dark room packed with strangers if you were panicked about the pandemic? So, the movie box office could provide a useful barometer of economic normalcy. And in recent weeks, cinemas have re-opened in most countries with some big releases, notably the sequel to the wildly successful The Quiet Place, inventively called The Quiet Place 2, and Disney’s Cruella.
Box office data shows people are returning to the cinema – at least compared with the same period last year when attendance was tiny or cinemas were closed. A better comparison would be with the pre-pandemic 2019. On that score, recent box office numbers are unimpressive. In the US, box office grosses for the last three weeks are 67% lower than the same period in 2019. They are 48% lower in the UK, 50% in France, and a staggering 99% lower in Germany (Charts 1 to 4).
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