Editor's take: The film industry has mostly recovered from the pandemic-induced downturn, coming out on the other side with a bit of a different look. As pandemic restrictions ease (barring another variant outbreak), it'll be interesting to see if theaters recover further in 2022 or if consumers prefer to watch from the comfort of their home via digital delivery.
The Motion Picture Association in its 2021 Theatrical and Home Entertainment Market Environment (THEME) report said the combined global theatrical and home / mobile entertainment market generated $99.7 billion in 2021. That's up from just $80.5 billion in 2020, and eclipses the $98.1 billion in revenue from 2019 / pre-pandemic levels.
It's the breakdown of revenue, however, that is especially interesting.
Last year, a full 72 percent of the aforementioned $99.7 billion in revenue - or $71.9 billion - was generated by digital delivery. Before the pandemic in 2019, digital markets generated just $45.5 billion.
Theatrical revenue dipped accordingly, from $42.3 billion in 2019 to $21.3 billion last year. In 2020 during the height of the pandemic, the theatrical market turned out just $11.8 billion in revenue as many theaters were forced to temporarily close over local Covid-19 guidelines.
The shift to digital content consumption is in line with similar trends we've seen as it relates to consumer spending in subscription-based apps over the last couple of years and is largely a byproduct of the pandemic. Faced with shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, content creators and distributors had to find new ways to reach audiences, and digital delivery was the answer.
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