The United States is the world’s largest film market. That may change in the coming years, as markets like China, or India and Russia mature – and as data from those sources becomes standardised. However, following a tough couple of years amid the pandemic, the American market is already rebounding strongly, meaning this is still a distant prospect.
Annual box office takings from 2021 have already been matched by ticket sales in 2022 – suggesting that the market is set to recover the majority of revenue that it lost during the lockdown months. Unfortunately, the independent box office is not matching the studio system’s rate of recovery.
That may be to some extent predictable: independents cannot match the scale of Hollywood’s marketing budgets – and with footfall still lower than pre-pandemic, word of mouth will not work the way it did in 2019. Then, the Indy film segment accounted for more than 11% of the US box office.
Now, however, with blockbuster hits like Dune and Spiderman: No Way Home bringing in huge hauls, Hollywood cinema is accelerating away from it’s lower-budget competitor. Looking at the best performing independent films as an indicator, while the segment has seen revenues grow a little on a disastrous 2020, the improvement is minimal in comparison to studio films. As a result, it is estimated that in 2021, Indy film accounted for just over 7% of the US box office.
In the coming period, it is likely Indy films will steadily grow their own revenues again – but not at anything close to the rate of the industry’s biggest players.