Cinema's Crisis: November Box Office Hits a New Low


Cinema's Crisis: November Box Office Hits a New Low
© Getty Images Entertainment/Kevin Winter

November, typically a month synonymous with blockbuster releases and robust box office sales, has witnessed a notable slump this year. Dubbed "Slow-vember" by industry analysts, the month saw a significant decrease in revenue for domestic theaters.

According to Comscore, a research firm specializing in box office data, theaters grossed approximately $553.6 million in November 2023. This figure represents a 12% drop from the previous year and is markedly short of the pre-pandemic levels, which often neared the billion-dollar mark.

The decline is particularly evident when comparing this year's Thanksgiving holiday corridor – a period spanning from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after – which grossed $173 million. While this is an improvement over last year's figures, it falls short of the $270 million average typical before 2020.

Underperforming Titles and Contributing Factors

Several highly anticipated movies failed to meet expectations at the box office, contributing to the overall downturn. Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, pointed out the underwhelming performance of "The Marvels" and "Wish." "Based on the impressive historical track record of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Disney animated films during the Thanksgiving period, these films were expected to generate much bigger box office than was realized by both films," he explained.

Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, also noted that the simultaneous release of films like “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” and “Trolls Band Together” might have led to a cannibalization of the potential female audience.

Other factors contributing to the disappointing turnout included the SAG-AFTRA strike, which hindered actors from promoting their movies, and the delay of the expected sci-fi blockbuster “Dune: Part Two” to March 2024.

Robbins summed up the situation, observing that no movie achieved the "event-level, must-see status" that often characterizes holiday season releases. In comparison, last year's Marvel release, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” opened with a strong $181 million domestically, showcasing the stark contrast in audience engagement.

Despite these setbacks, the year's overall domestic box office stands at $8.26 billion, just shy of the expected $9 billion. Dergarabedian remains optimistic, emphasizing the importance of upcoming releases to maintain industry momentum into 2024.

"The good news for theaters is that there is a fantastic selection of movies from all genres, budgets big and small, and awards contenders as well as mainstream blockbusters in the mix," he concluded.