Early 2024 box office concerns have been validated. Blockbuster postponements, holiday movie fatigue, and a general lagging period for big releases have resulted in the lowest January totals in the last 25 years (other than the COVID-era, of course). February looks to be more of the same.
Predictions before the new year accurately foresaw a challenging period for the box office in the first two months of 2024, primarily due to a scarcity of new Hollywood studio titles. This scarcity stemmed from production delays caused by strikes in the previous year, compounded by lackluster holiday holdovers from the end of the year.
Data for January 1 to February 4 reveals a significant decrease in domestic box office revenue compared to the same period in 2016-19, amounting to a whopping 43 percent downtrend. The absence of new wide studio releases during certain weekends exacerbated the situation, culminating in the underperformance of Apple’s high-budget release Argylle, which only garnered $17.5 million domestically during its opening weekend in early February.
Solid performers in January included carryover films like the Timothée Chalamet-starring holiday musical Wonka and Mean Girls. However, February’s lineup appears similarly challenging, lacking significant releases akin to the previous year’s offerings.
Industry analysts anticipate a potential upturn in March with the release of highly anticipated films like Dune: Part Two, Kung Fu Panda 4, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.
Meanwhile, there’s been scrutiny over Apple Original Films’ ability to evade criticism for underperforming releases compared to traditional studios. Despite lackluster box office returns for films like Argylle, Killers of the Flower Moon, and Napoleon, Apple’s deep pockets and broader strategy, including bolstering Apple TV+ subscriptions and entering the Oscar race, have insulated it from harsh scrutiny. This discrepancy in media treatment is accepted by rival studio executives, who relish Apple’s contributions to the industry during challenging times.