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A significant May

Results above 40 million euros for this month, with three explosive titles such as Guardians of the Galaxy – Vol. 3, Fast X, and The Little Mermaid. But…

For once, let’s start with a slightly different infographic:

As you may have guessed, for each ‘May’, I focused on the debuts that performed the best, to see if there has ever been a trio of titles in this month that have performed as well as Guardians of the Galaxy – Vol. 3, Fast X, and The Little Mermaid. No, because even if we take the richest May of the last 13 years, that of 2010 (49.1M), we find among the best new releases Robin Hood (9.2M in the month and 11.1M in total), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, respectively (4M and 6.7M), and Final Destination (2.4M and 3.6M). And even in 2019, which had the most significant debuts so far, we are almost 9M less for the top three compared to those of 2023.

So, it is evident that there have never been three debuts so rich in May, and this is really fundamental for evaluations. At this point, you might say, May 2023 was a champion of box office records, right? Let’s see the results for this month since 2010:

All in all, as can be seen, it’s the sixth best result since 2010, which considering that it’s probably better not to think about the 2020-2022 results, doesn’t seem too exciting. So, should we be happy that the overall figures were higher than those of the years like 2017 (32.7M) and 2018 (34.3M)? Or should we think that, given the wealth of blockbusters we had and the amazing scores of these three debuts, could have done even better? Or, third hypothesis (which seems to me the most correct in absolute), the blockbusters did their part and very well, but almost none of the other recent movies even existed? Indeed, in the 4-10 positions of May, only three movies actually came out in the month, the others were sequels from April. As far as I’m concerned, I’m very happy with how May 2023 went, because it wasn’t at all certain that those three blockbusters would work so well. After all, in the article dedicated to April’s results, I had said that it would be great to get 35-40 million from May, but it wouldn’t be easy. But it confirms that there are problems in the general offer that don’t allow us to return to (almost) normality.

Let’s take a closer look at the top ten highest grossing films of May 2023:

Comparing with those of May 2022:

May 2019:

And May 2018:

There’s little to say about May 2022, in which there was the excellent result of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (13.2M) and the already significant debut of Top Gun: Maverick (4.5M, but would improve a lot in the following months, with great stability), but little else. After all, it’s enough to say that only three titles had exceeded 800,000 euros.

Very different story in 2019. After all, in May 2019 (total revenue, 48.2M), there were four titles between 2 and 3 million (in May of this year, there is only one, and it has not even been released in the month, since we are talking about Super Mario Bros. – The Movie with 2.1M).

It must be said that the three highest box office results had generated 23.5M (Avengers: Endgame had obviously not been released in May but provided an excellent contribution, which did not come this year from the titles released at the end of April 2023, as was evident). And the tenth title obtained 1.3M.

In May 2018, the results were terrible (34.3M total), so almost 6 million less than May 2023. But as we can see in the infographic of the top three debuts of the month, the difference was more than 14M, so compared to that occasion, even that year there were some average titles that worked. In fact, after the top three, there were three titles in the 2-3M range, as well as three in the 1-2M range. In May 2023, on the other hand, as many as five titles did not exceed 900,000 euros, and three of these did not even reach 600,000 euros.

And let’s move on to the Italian cinema offer. As we saw above, there were three Italian titles in the top ten in May, namely Il sol dell’avvenire (1,402,149 euros), La quattordicesima domenica del tempo ordinario (829,679 euros), and Rapito (610,480 euros). Of course, three out of ten would be a positive result, but we must always remember that the top three films (all american ones) alone obtained 65% of this month’s box office. As often happens in May, Italian titles that are screened at Cannes arrive, and this allows our production not to disappear from the charts as summer approaches. It is worth noting that, apart from the top three indicated, the highest Italian revenues come from two events, Tutti su! Buon compleanno Claudio (373,541 euros) and Borromini e Bernini – Sfida alla perfezione (207,014 euros).

Anyway, we are at 4.4M obtained by our production and a share of 11.1%. It may not seem like an extraordinary figure (and it is not in absolute terms), but it is worth remembering that in May 2022 we were at around 2.2 million and a share of just over 8.5%. And even in 2019, despite the excellent start of Il traditore (2.2M in its first nine days), we were at 5.9M and 12.4%. So, let’s not beat around the bush, the spring/early summer is not an extraordinary time for Italian cinema.

As for the distributors, there was a good fight this May for both the first and third places. At the top, Walt Disney takes the lead (after all, it has two of the three strongest films) with 16.1M and 40.1%, surpassing Universal (12.8M and 32.1%). The third place goes to 01 Distribution (2.2M and 5.5%), which narrowly beats Warner Bros. (2.1M and 5.3%).

And we end with the infographic on box office revenues from January to May:

So, as you can see, if we take the average of the 2017-2019 triennium, we are about 30% behind. But it is important to remember that those years ended very differently: 2017 with 584M, 2018 with 555M, and 2019 with 635M.

And what can we expect in June? Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is here today and will take advantage of the entire month. It is worth remembering that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had earned 2.7M in 2018, but we can definitely expect more from this title (however, I would say that if it achieves a result between 4 and 5 million, we would be happy). We could hope for a similar result (but it won’t be easy) for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (June 7), given that the last chapter of the saga, Transformers: The Last Knight, had earned 4.8M in 2017.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis seems to be the strongest title coming in June, if only because the fourth film in the saga, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, had earned 11.4M in 2008. However, being released on June 28th, it will only have three days available, so whatever result it achieves will mainly go towards July.

The big question mark comes from Elemental (June 21), especially since the June date has not been very favorable for Pixar cartoons lately (like Lightyear – The True Story of Buzz, which closed at only 2,580,733 euros). A tracking that talks about a debut of less than 40 million dollars domestically doesn’t help either. Finally, we should not underestimate The Boogeyman, which is also coming out today and, like all horror movies, could provide an interesting contribution…

Robert Bernocchi
E' stato Head of productions a Onemore Pictures e Data and Business Analyst at & BoxOffice.Ninja. In passato, responsabile marketing e acquisizioni presso Microcinema Distribuzione, marketing e acquisizioni presso MyMovies.
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