Hits like ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ may have helped boost box office sales in 2022, but did not rescue the industry from a lackluster year.
New estimates show the domestic box office is set to finish right around $7.35 billion for 2022, down 33 percent from 2019 when ticket sales raked in over $11 billion.
While the number is still up 68 percent from 2021, many Americans once again turned to their streaming services to avoid having to leave their home.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may be to blame for a portion of the low profits, many within the entertainment industry seem to believe the lack of desirable output is the biggest cause for concern.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ was one of the year’s biggest blockbusters, raking in more than $420 million domestically for the Walt Disney Company
Margot Robbie’s ‘Babylon’ opened Christmas weekend to less than $5 million
Movie ticket sales over the Christmas weekend came in at $86 million from Friday to Sunday according to ComScore, down nearly 70 percent from 2021 when ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ swung to the top of the charts.
‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ managed to come out a winner over the weekend, however, raking in $56 million during the holiday weekend.
Even the production company behind the year’s biggest domestic film, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ ($718M), had their struggles.
‘We’re still coming out of the COVID haze,’ said Brian Robbins, chief executive of Paramount Pictures in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
‘There are a couple of films that we barely got to the finish line,’ Robbins said.
The studio still managed to claim five of the top 25 spots on the domestic box office list for 2025 with ‘Maverick,’ ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ ($190M), ‘Smile’ ($105M), ‘The Lost City’ ($105M), and ‘Scream’ ($81M).
Despite those numbers, the Paramount exec said he believes the current output has yet to bring back the full scope of potential customers in the post-pandemic world.
‘Outside of the big tentpoles, genre films and some family films, I don’t think we’ve seen audiences fully come back,’ Robbins said.
‘Top Gun: Maverick’ grossed more than $718 million domestically in 2022
Tom Cruise led Paramount pictures to their biggest film of all time with ‘Top Gun: Maverick’
The film brought in more than $1.4 billion at the global box office
Robbins may also have been weighing in on the uninspiring performances from some non-legacy films with star-power that floundered.
Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, and John David Washington’s ‘Amsterdam’ ($14M), directed by David O’Russell, lost millions after costing more than $80 million to make and in spite of the litany of costars including Rami Malek, Robert De Niro, Anya Taylor-Joy, Taylor Swift, Michael Shannon.
Similarly, Robbie’s ‘Babylon,’ directed by Damien Chazelle, made a shockingly low $3.5 million in its debut weekend over the Christmas holiday.
Brad Pitt, Jean Smart, and Tobey McGuire star alongside Robbie in the film from the ‘La La Land’ director which cost $110 million to make.
Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt star in Damien Chazelle’s ‘Babylon’ which made just $3.5 million in its opening weekend. The film cost $110 million to make
One of the major winners of the year was the Walt Disney Company who made $1.7 billion domestically thanks to ‘Wakanda Forever’ ($427M), ‘The Way of Water’ ($279M), and ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ ($411M).
The same company however, also encountered major losses on the animation sign with ‘Strange World’ ($35M) which lost an estimated $100 million, and ‘Lightyear’ ($226M) which had a $200 million production budget.
Box office numbers for ‘Lightyear’ may have impaled after the film found itself in the middle of controversy surrounding Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
The film originally featured a kiss between two female characters which was briefly removed and then reinstated by Disney execs.
Disney’s ‘Strange World’ made just $35 million and released on Disney+ one month after it’s theatrical debut
Disney and Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ which was a spin-off of the ‘Toy Story’ franchise managed to recoup its production budget but only made back $26 million
The film became embroiled in the middle of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law and was criticized for featuring, removing, and then reinstating a kiss between two female characters
Just behind Disney in the box office winners category was Universal Pictures who made $1.6 billion domestically thanks to sequels ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ ($376M), ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ ($369M).
Jordan Peele’s latest foray into the horror-suspense category, ‘NOPE,’ claimed the number 14 spot on the list of highest grossing movies with $114 million.
Alternatively, Billy Eichner’s gay comedy ‘Bros’ made Universal just $11 million domestically after costing $22 million.
Paramount Pictures took the third spot on the list with $1.3 billion, followed by Warner Bros. Pictures with $934 million, and Sony with $854 million.
A disappointing year for Warner Bros. which saw more than half of its domestic box office profits from ‘The Batman’ ($369M) and ‘Black Adam’ ($168M).
Warner Bros. also released ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ in April to just $95 million, a far fall from previous films in the Harry Potter universe.
HIT: Disney’s ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ brought in $411M domestically
FLOP: ‘Lightyear’ just barely made a profit after it cost more than $200 million to make
HIT: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ has made $279 million as of Christmas Day
FLOP: Universal Pictures’ ‘Bros’ made just $11 million
HIT: ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ made just over $340 million after its July release
FLOP: Despite costing more than $80 million to make, ‘Amsterdam’ made just $14 million
HIT: ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ had the best of both worlds with a limited release in theaters and a wide release on Netflix in December
FLOP: Sony’s ‘Morbius’ made just $74 million domestically
In total, only 71 movies were given a full ‘wide release’ in North America in 2022.
The average domestic box office gross for a film in 2022 was just over $100 million, according to ComScore.
Netflix and Rian Johnson’s ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ received the ‘best of both worlds’ in 2022 after a limited theatrical release in November and a streaming service debut in December.
The film, starring Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, and Edward Norton, was released in theaters for just one week in less than 700 theaters but managed to make $13 million.
Other studios skipped the limited release and went straight to the streaming services.
Hulu’s released ‘Prey,’ the latest installment in the ‘Predator’ franchise while and Pixar and Disney debuted ‘Turning Red’ directly on Disney+ in March.
Netflix’s ‘Glass Onion’ made $13 million after being released in theaters for just one week
The film made its debut in just 696 theaters nationwide before making its way onto Netflix on December 23