Australian box office records 70 per cent drop in 2020

Sales declined from an average of $1.2billion annually to just $401million

The Australian box office experienced an almost 70 per cent decline in 2020 as a result of cinemas closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the nation’s trade body for theatrical film distributors.

In an announcement made by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia today (January 28), box office earnings amounted to just $401million last year, a stark contrast to the $1.2billion in average annual earnings recorded for the five years prior.

Of the 39 films released in Australia in 2020, Jumanji: The Next Level recorded the most box office revenue with $28million. Trailing behind were 1917 ($23.3million), Bad Boys for Life ($19.6million), Tenet ($15.9million), and Little Women ($15.6million).


Cinemas were among the first spaces to close during the early stage of the pandemic. They have since reopened in all Australian states and territories, with varying capacities permitted.

Despite the severe drop in box office sales, the MPDAA said the normal interest in cinemas hadn’t waned prior to the pandemic, pointing to a nine per cent growth in revenue in January 2020 compared to the previous year.

“The death of cinema has been heralded each time a new technology shifted traditional business models. However the unquestionable enhancement of seeing a film on the big screen as well as the sentimental attachment to the communal experience of going to the movies with family and friends has proven to be robust and durable,” association chair Brian Pritchett said in a statement.

Already this year, more than $15million in sales has been recorded, thanks to the release of The Dry starring Eric Bana and Penguin Bloom with Naomi Watts, among other films.