Anxiety is building over a widely projected downturn in the box office for 2024. Financial analyst Eric Wold from B. Riley Financial has been consistent in advocating for exhibitor stocks including AMC, Cinemark, and IMAX, even during the dark days of the pandemic.
However, this week he pumped the breaks on that optimism, publishing his outlook for the year in which he believes that most exhibitor stocks will “remain lackluster.” A key factor is the reality that approximately $1 billion in box office was pushed out of 2024 and into 2025, due to the impact of Hollywood’s labor strikes.
As recently as November, Wold was anticipating a quicker recovery in the pace of major studio releases, estimating the 2024 domestic gross to come in at $8.6 billion. He now sees his earlier forecast as “too optimistic” and has reduced the 2024 gross to between $8 billion and $8.4 billion. On the bright side, he expects 2025 to be a bumper year, with as much as $10 billion in domestic box office.
Wold believes that one reason why the recovery is taking longer is that consumer moviegoing habits were interrupted by the pandemic. He points to the truism among exhibitors that “moviegoing begets more moviegoing.” This may limit the upside for 2024 releases because audiences are not as accustomed to spending a night out at the movies.