The pandemic wiped out over 2,000 movie screens

March 10, 2023, 4:36 PM UTC
Movie theater ticket prices were 15% higher last year than 2019.
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As audiences stayed away from movie theaters during the worst days of the pandemic and the months that followed, theater owners warned that their business was in danger. Now we’re getting a better idea of the impact of the shutdown.

The National Cinema Foundation, a non-profit group that promotes the movie theater industry, says the U.S. lost just over 2,000 screens between 2019 and 2022, a 5.3% drop.

In that same time frame, the price of going to the movies has jumped 15%, with average ticket prices climbing from $9.16 in 2019 to $10.53 last year. (The group notes that when adjusted for inflation, the 2022 price is actually less than three years ago.)

Figures for those categories were not given for 2020 or 2021.

While the U.S. has seen a contraction in screens, the worldwide total continues to expand. Globally, there were 212,590 screens last year, a 5.8% increase over 2019’s 200,949.

The release of Top Gun: Maverick and other big hits last year were a welcome sight to theater owners. Last year’s total box office receipts hit $7.53 billion, more than triple the 2020 totals and a 64% improvement over 2021.

Last year’s National Cinema Day promotion, where tickets to see virtually any movie cost just $3, was a rousing success as well. The group says an estimated 8.1 million people went to the movies that day. And 59% of the people who went that day say they have been going to films more often since then.

The promotion, which was held worldwide, is expected to be repeated again this year.

There should be lots of choices for cinema-goers to choose from The Cinema Foundation says 107 movies will be released in 2,000 or more theaters this year, compared to just 71 in 2022.

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