Our second year of pandemic is dying. Despite the gradual advance of preventive vaccination coverage against Covid-19, new uncertainties due to the emergence of variants, precautionary measures and intermittent capacity restrictions in closed spaces dictate the growth or decrease of cultural industries according to their ability to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the health emergency.
In the case of the film industry, particularly in the exhibition link, at the eagle’s eye, results are still favorable compared to the previous year, but not very encouraging compared to the numbers prior to the pandemic.
According to the preliminary annual report of the National Chamber of the Cinematographic Industry (Canacine), with data from Comscore and cut to December 5, the exhibition channels in Mexico have billed 5,836 million pesos for box office income that, compared to the 3,512 million pesos of income in the same period of 2020, represent an improvement of 66 percent.
This means that the general conditions for exhibitors this year have improved compared to a 2020 that had a first quarter free of Covid-19, but a rest of the year conditioned by prolonged and intermittent restrictions. Now, if the current figures are compared with what was billed at the box office at the same time in 2019, the recovery distance is still diametrical.
In 2019, billing from ticket sales at this point was 17,820 million pesos, which, compared to the 5,836 million pesos reported so far, show that the current year still carries a deficit of 67% compared to the conditions that had been favoring the exhibitors until the months prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.
It will be interesting to see how much Mexican box offices are able to collect three weeks before the end of the year and with at least a couple of blockbusters to premiere in our country during the Christmas season: Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Matrix Resurrections.
The return of the public to the rooms is still low
In this equation, it is necessary to consider that the average ticket price has increased by 13% in one year and practically 20% since the start of the health destabilization. According to Comscore, the price for a movie ticket in Mexico went from 54.2 pesos in 2019 to 57.2 pesos in 2020 and 64.9 pesos this year.
This factor to consider reveals that yes, the theaters recovered part of their spectators, but still far from desirable conditions, and that the billing figures do not fully reflect the still evident lack of confidence of the public to return to their seats. While in 2019 the rounded attendance figure closed at about 328 million tickets sold, so far in 2021 there are about 90 million, meaning that net attendance at shopping complexes is still 72% lower than two years ago.
Exhibition of Mexican cinema, in a tailspin
The panorama of the exhibition of national films in shopping complexes three weeks before the end of the year is the most unfavorable of, at least, the last decade when it comes to income. While in 2019 the commercial box office reported a turnover of 1,673 million pesos for tickets to Mexican films, the unfortunate 2020 delivered 409 million pesos, that is, 75% less. As if that were not enough, so far in 2021 the national commercial box office has only reported revenues of 273 million pesos, that is, 83% less than 2019 and 33% less than 2020.
It seems incredible that this year, however, more Mexican films have been released than in 2020: 59 so far this year against 40 last year. But there is an additional factor to consider: the first quarter of 2020, even without a pandemic, was the one that most favored the sum of money at the box office that year.
But the definitive factor for the drop in income for national films, despite the fact that more were released in 2021, is that in the current year, Hollywood production houses reactivated their distribution in cinemas and once again prevailed in commercial preference. According to the Canacine and Comscore report, the 40 Mexican films of 2020 weighed 11.6% of the 3,512 million pesos per ticket, while the 59 national films of 2021 only represent 4% of the 5,836 million pesos of the entire box office up to now.