Due to the slow, vaccine-fueled recovery of the theater industry, 2021 has been a very unusual year for the Hollywood box office. Even the biggest films’ ticket sales are still a fraction of what they would have been in 2019.
The battle for the most successful Hollywood film of the year is being fought between F9 and the long-awaited James Bond sequel No Time To Die (waged in the $700 million range, rather than the post-billion range that the industry has become accustomed to). The fact that Marvel and Disney, which dominated these debates in the years leading up to the epidemic, aren’t even in the running, with Shang-Chi, the studio’s highest performer, grossing only $431 million globally.
Bond is expected to overtake Dom and the Family as the most profitable studio film of the year thus far.
It’s possible that West Side Story or No Way Home can overthrow No Time To Die before the end of the year, but both December releases will only have a short window to try to displace Cary Joji Fukunaga’s film.
Both of these franchises have one important similarity – they do exceptionally well outside of the domestic box office. If we only include the United States, the two films would come in fourth (F9) and sixth (No Time To Die), considerably below Shang-Chi.
According to Box Office Mojo, No Time To Die grossed $124 million in Bond’s home country of the United Kingdom, $69 million in Germany, and $57.9 million in China. F9, predictably, went all-in on the Chinese market, grossing $203.8 million there, outperforming its US and UK box office totals combined.
Neither of these films will even come close to being the top-grossing film on the earth in 2021. That honor will probably go to Chinese blockbuster The Battle At Lake Changjin, which has grossed $882 million since its October premiere.