What Will the Box Office Trends of the Future Be?

My last four posts have seen me look at the top five highest grossing movies of the past four decades. It stands to reason that looking at the trends in terms of genres, critical reception and so on should allow us to predict what the future will look like.

To do this, it is first useful to bring ourselves right up to date by looking at the past three years (2010-2012) and seeing if anything else has emerged we might have missed by stopping in 2009.

Rather than producing lots of fancy graphs and charts, here’s the raw table of results for you to mull over:

BoxOfficeStats - 2010s Table

So what does this tell us?

1) Over the next 10 years 75%+ of the Top Five Movies each year will be sequels, or at the very least part of a franchise.

Look at the table above. Inception is the sole movie which could be described as being wholly original. After the success of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Twilight studios are constantly on the look-out for films that will have 4/5/6 installments for people to get involved in. The success of Iron Man 3 and Fast and Furious 6 this year will only add to that.

2) Over the next ten years a maximum of 10% of the Top Five movies each year will be R-Rated.

Were Inception made in 1990, it would have been R-Rated. It has an adult tone similar to Terminator 2 or The Matrix. The fact it is not reflects the fact R-Rated movies will not get the kind of budget they need to be Top Five movies. There may be a sprinkling of R-Rated comedies that manage to claw their way through, but it’s also possible my 10% estimate will look very high come the end of 2019.

3) By 2020 the American market will only account for around 25% of box office takings worldwide

In 2012, US takings accounted for an average of 32% of takings worldwide for the Top Five Films. This is down from an average of 38% in 1992. American audiences are starting to matter less and less to Hollywood. This brings us nicely onto our next prediction:

4) Between 2017-2019, over 50% of the Top Five movies each year will have a “Chinese” connection.

As America starts to matter less, China is starting to matter more. How will this impact films? As this fascinating article shows, it already does. Expect to see a lot more Chinese locations, actors and directors in Hollywood films as they do their best to bypass the Chinese authorities’ restrictions on foreign films, and ultimately make as much money as possible from this emerging “super power”.

5) 100% the Top Five films in 2019 will have been filmed for IMAX.

This is a given. Audiences will stop caring about 3D, and cinemas will probably stop charging extra for those films. However, multiple IMAX screens will be in every multiplex across the developed world. Will 3D survive? Probably, but possibly only if they don’t require the use of glasses, a hurdle 3D will need to overcome to become the norm in the television market.


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