The ongoing impacts of the pandemic saw the independent film market endure a torrid 2021. According to new analysis from Indy Film Library, while the global box office doubled its takings, Indy Films struggled to gain public support.
A year on from Indy Film Library’s initial analysis of the Indy Film segment’s performance at the box office during the pandemic, the situation does not seem to have improved.
As cinemas re-opened, the huge advertising budgets of studios helped draw vast crowds for blockbusters of note. Spider-Man: No Way Home for example raked in more than $1.5 billion worldwide, while No Time to Die took an impressive $774 million. Without the same ability to catch attention, however, even the best performing Indy Films struggled to make the same impact they have in previous years.
The 10 highest grossing independent pictures of 2021 brought in a collective haul of just over $160 million. While this was a 2.6% improvement on the 10 best performing Indy Films of 2020, it paled in comparison to the wider box office. As a result, it is clear that Indy Film’s share of the overall box office has tumbled significantly amid the pandemic.
Though it was estimated that independent cinema took a share of around 11% of the global box office in 2019, this share fell to just over 10% in 2020. But that was when both segments were heavily impacted by the closure of theatres.
In the last 12 months, revenues for the global box office rose by more than 75%. With the reopening of cinemas, independents have not recouped anywhere near as much value as studios though. If the income of the 10 highest grossing independent films in 2021 was reflected across the Indy Film Industry as a whole, revenues for the last year languished at around $1.28 billion.
According to Indy Film Library’s estimates, this means the Indy Film Industry accounted for just 5.98% of the overall box office. As noted previously, while the pandemic’s early phases were a disaster for the studio system, the world’s wealthiest companies were always likely to bounce back in the near future. The same was always going to be a tougher ask for the Indy Film segment.
However, these figures do not include the film festival circuit. As more events re-open to the public over the coming 12 months, or find new digital and hybrid models to supply viewers with independent content, these events could well provide a lifeline to the ailing Indy Film sector.