Universal Topples Disney Off The Top Spot In A Bumper Year For Cinema

Universal Topples Disney Off The Top Spot In A Bumper Year For Cinema

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you would have noticed that 2023 was a very strong year for cinema with titles like Barbie and Oppenheimer dominating the cultural landscape.

The Australian box office earned almost $AU1 billion last year as it benefited from the long line of blockbusters and it was an especially good year for Universal which toppled Disney from the top spot as the global leader.

According to cinema reporting platform Numero, the Australian gross box office increased 4.4 per cent in 2023 coming in at $AU986m. This was 62 per cent more than in 2021 when the country was in the grips of the pandemic. 

Globally it was a good year for Universal who took the number one spot from Disney – a position it has held since 2016.

The 24 movies dropped by Universal pulled in a total of $US4.91 billion ($AU7.31 billion) in worldwide ticket sales – compared to the $US4.83 billion ($AU7.19 billion) pulled in by the 17 titles put out by Disney. Both Barbie and Oppenheimer were released by Universal.

Oppenheimer

Universal’s total included $US1.94 billion ($AU2.89 billion) from the US’s domestic market, compared to $US1.9 billion ($AU2.83 billion) from Disney.

Internationally, meanwhile, Universal pulled in $US2.97 billion ($AU4.42 billion) compared to Disney’s $US2.92 billion ($AU4.35 billion).

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the results are a big win for Donna Langley, chairperson of Universal Pictures. Langley reportedly lured legendary filmmaker Christopher Nolan to Universal after he became upset with Warner Bros over its plans to release its 2021 slate day-and-date on streaming.

Nolan’s Oppenheimer brought in a total of $US952 million ($AU1.4 billion) in global ticket sales, making it a record-breaker for biographical drama. It is also Nolan’s top film out of the Dark Knight franchise

Marketing strategy is everything.

For Stephanie Mills, director – sales, marketing and content at HOYTS Group, marketing was key to the cinema success of 2023.

“Even the greatest movie in the world won’t do well if people don’t know about it”.

“Marketing strategy is everything. Barbie is one of the best-executed marketing campaigns I have ever seen – they started seeding photos from set more than a year before the movie released and the campaign just built from there. Same has been happening with Joker: Folie A Deux where photos, particularly those of Lady Gaga in character, have received huge attention”.

Stephanie Mills

“One thing that can obviously help a movie become successful is when people find a way to make it their own. What started out as a potential dating disaster became the love story of the year in Barbenheimer. Watching the fan-created memes, seeing viewers flock to unofficial double features of Barbie and Oppenheimer – the buzz around these two movies releasing on the same date turned out to be box office magic”.

What Will Be Big in 2024?

Can we expect the same this year? Mills gives her view on the movies that are likely to make it big this year.

Mean Girls– releasing this Thursday is going to be big. Matthew Vaughn (Kingsmen: The Secret Service) had a new movie coming out called Argylle (1 Feb) – definitely one to watch out for. Force of Nature: The Dry 2 opens 8 Feb and Bob Marley One Love on the 14th February.

“A bit further down the track – Joker Folie A Deux (sequel to The Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix) brings Lady Gaga into the casting mix (3 October). This could be the biggest movie of the year.”




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